Could You Survive a (Social) Media Blackout?

Could you live without social media? I’m talking about ALL conduits to social media, including mobile devices, cell phones, MP3 players and television – a total media blackout. That’s the question 200 students from the University of Maryland recently attempted to answer during a 24-hour stretch of social media abstinence termed 24 Hours: Unplugged.

Organized by the university’s International Center for Media & the Public Agenda, each participant was asked to blog privately about the experience after its completion. Writing an average of 500 words, students articulated sensations not dissimilar to that of a true addict. “In withdrawal. Frantically craving. Very anxious. Extremely antsy. Miserable. Jittery. Crazy,” were among the reported feelings.

Also reinforced was the fact that new technology is almost impossible to avoid. The deluge of information we’re all surrounded by made it difficult for students to abstain, even when making a cognizant effort.

Many students reported feeling alone, jarred by being separated from friends and family.

Other key findings include:

– Students felt most bereft without their cell phones
– Being disconnected from personal music players left students disconcerted
– Facebook is used to alleviate boredom (both in-class and out)
– Many student’s type faster than they can write by hand
– Students rely on mobile devices for time in lieu of a watch
– Participants found it relatively easy to part with TV

Are you addicted to social media? Put yourself to the test and see if you suffer from cold sweats and nervous shakes.