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By Pascale Richardson-Haughey April 17, 2017

Are you GL.TCHed by Social Media?

Illustrated by Rebecca McFarlane

The word “glitch” is rarely used to describe human behaviour and is commonly thought of in terms of technology. I find it interesting that although we see our technology as glitchy, the ultimate glitch might be the ways in which technology affects us (whether it be our social behaviours, our connections to our environment, etc). Does our excessive use of, or even addiction to, technology create a disconnection, or alienation, from ourselves, our environment, and each other? For instance, I often find myself grabbing my computer when I’m feeling uncomfortable, or not wanting to think about or address something that’s bothering me. Although there are definitely pros to having a computer or phone, I think a lot of us use technology (whether intentionally or not) as a way of dealing with uncomfortable feelings (from boredom, to social anxiety). Our gravitation towards our phones has become almost a glitchy instinct, or maybe an avoidance of things that we think are glitchy (moods and feelings that we feel are out of place, socially awkward reactions or experiences, etc).

To explore these issues, I’m proposing an experiment, one that will hopefully have the added benefit of freeing your schedules a little and using your time to do things that you’re actually into. I want to challenge you (and myself) to leave social media for two weeks, or whatever amount of time you’re comfortable with. I’m hoping that through this experiment we can try to understand what our motivations are when we’re tempted to log into social media. Is it to procrastinate? To avoid an uncomfortable situation? To kill time? I also hope we will notice things about our environment, other people, or ourselves that we were missing when we busied our every free moment with Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever else. Hopefully by the end of the experiment, participants will have a better sense of which aspects of social media are detrimental to them and which are practical.

I invite everyone participating to gradually write about your experience and thoughts during this challenge or afterwards. You can leave comments about your experience in the comments section below this page, and you can also submit longer reflections for SPACE to consider publishing. 

If you accept this challenge, take a break from Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and anything else you suspect might be distracting you from yourself and from life (e.g. solo Netflix binging) including any other form of electronic entertainment that you deem to be nonessential. Try to write down ahead of time the things you’re committing NOT to look at, and carry that paper around with you as a reminder. 

The experiment begins at 12:00 a.m on Wednesday, January 11th, and ends at 11:59 pm on Tuesday, January 24th. We will also be inviting anyone in the entire College who is interested to join in the experiment for a shorter period, from Friday, April 7th at 12:00 am (in other words,Thursday at midnight) until Sunday, April 9th at 11:59 pm, and to share their experiences as well. 

Are you GL.TCHed by Social Media? Am I? If so, how? Let’s find out!

About the illustrator

Rebecca McFarlane is a Montreal based Illustrator. She aims create powerful and direct images utilizing multidisciplinary techniques.

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    March 15, 2017

    I found this article very interesting because it used a different angle to approach a subject that is very current in our modern technology driven society. The article cleverly uses the word “glitch” to describe the way we use technology today. I felt I can easily identify with what the author was saying. It is true that most of the time when I have a bad day, when I’m not feeling good, I find the need to escape from reality.  I retreat into this bubble of social media or lose myself in the life of the fictional characters of a Netflix series. The problem is that it may be comforting in the short term, however, in the long run, it doesn’t explain the cause of my deeper feelings.

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    March 16, 2017

    I always knew that social media was very present in our day to day lives but had never imagined how much it effects our emotions and behaviours. This article truly opened my mind to realizing that social media is our own escape from our problems. After reading this piece, I looked back on how many times I have checked my cell phone to not encounter awkward moments or on how many hours I have spent on social media to beat boredom and came to a conclusion that I have done it more often than I thought I did. I want to change my bad habits concerning my dependence on social media and although the experiment has ended, I will try my best to challenge myself and take a break from social media.

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    Jacques Parizeau

    March 17, 2017

    We, citizens of the 21th century, often think that social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat would bring us humans closer thanks to the omnipresence of Internet around the globe. We think that by having windows into the lives of millions of individuals we would be better communicators. Although, in my personal experience, just as you suggested, social media and intelligent technology alienate us from others instead of connecting us: by being overexposed to the virtual world, our bonds closer to home and our “real” connections tend to be forgotten. Indeed, by having such easy access to communication, we tend to devaluate its importance to our humanity. All in all, I agree with you that we, social media users, should from time to time disconnect from Internet in order to explore our immediate environment and restart to appreciate the true meaning of human connection.

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    Pascale Richardson-Haughey

    April 2, 2017

    Here are some thoughts and experiences I had while away from social media:

    -What ended up being the hardest part wasn’t my inability to contact my friends, but my inability to just sit with myself without having anything distract me.

    -I’m realizing that social media is often, to me, a means of instant (and very temporary) gratification. I’m feeling bored, I’m feeling anxious, I’m feeling lonely, I’m having an existential crisis, so I log into social media for instant gratification, without being able to address what is bothering me and find long-lasting solutions. What is really frightening is that I often don’t even realize that the negative feeling is there in the first place, yet feel the need to be constantly entertained, or distracted from it; I wrongly think the issue is in the fact that I forgot my phone, rather than it being the need to constantly be on that phone.

    -I’m trying my best not to give in every time I have the impulse to check my phone, and am trying to be more aware of the feelings I experience when I have that impulse. It’s pretty challenging, but also very rewarding when I’m able to resist the temptation and sit with whatever I’m feeling, until it passes. I’m hoping that the more I practice that, the easier it will be to overcome the desire for instant gratification, by understanding that I can handle my impulses and that they pass.

    -There is a person who’s text I was expecting and never got. Instead of coming to terms with that, I avoid it by telling myself that they probably messaged me on Facebook and that I’ll receive the message when I’m back online. This is frustrating to me, because it’s just another way of avoiding my emotions-in this case, disappointment-with social media, without even being on it.

    -Although I haven’t learned to master my feelings, I’ve started to learn that they’re nothing to be afraid of. I’ve spent two weeks without my major form of distraction from my emotions, and I survived (with quite a bit of ease at that). I’m a little bit sad that the two weeks are over now because it’ll be harder to resist social media’s temptations without the pressure of the challenge. This project has been especially rewarding for me thanks to the people who participated, because it feels good to know that an idea I had resonated with people who were willing to challenge themselves with me.

    P.S. Thanks for the great comments!

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    Abassi Negina

    April 24, 2017

    After having heard of this experiment, I was immediately interested by it. Being an early adults who was practically born with a cell phone in my hand, I can totally understand why the older generation want us to stop always being on our phone. I was interested to try this experiment because I wanted to know how I could be more productive instead of always being on Instagram, Facebook…
    I tried the experiment for three day (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) and instead of only going without social media, I actually just left my phone at home and didn’t use it for 3 whole days. One thing that I noticed is that whenever I was in a weird or unwanted situation, I would try to reach for my phone to avoid it. Other than that, I think it was not that hard for me to go without my phone for a whole day which probably means that I am not as addicted to social media as I thought I was.

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