- Without access to social media, students felt left out of the loop: Students in Chile most missed their connection to social media. To be away, even for one day, meant they would be missing out on important things happening in their networks. “I was desperate to turn on my cell phone or log into Facebook, just to see what my friends were doing on Saturday night,” admitted one student. “I really made an effort and did not log into Facebook or use my cell phone; therefore, I stayed home that night.”
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- Both the logistics of getting together with friends and the emotional fallout of not being able to connect troubled students: Students’ dependence on mobile phones made them wonder how they could cope. As one student explained, “During the day I felt that I was lonely, I didn’t know what my friends or my boyfriend was doing. The next morning I turned my phone back on and realized that I had a lot of missed calls, unanswered emails and texts. I felt more relaxed.”
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- Life unplugged might be more relaxing (but students also felt isolated and abandoned): During their 24 hours without media, some students reported that they felt liberated from the exhausting need to be on media all the time. But even many of those students reflected that there were costs to that freedom. “A day without media is a lonelier day,” mused one student.
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“My D day was Sunday… It was supposed to be a short day, but I could feel that it was going to seem as an eternity. The up side of it was that I got to read an entire book… As I read the first 30 pages, I had urges to turn on my phone and at least check my emails. When I got to the next 50, I had to eat – I felt a little anxious.
As I continued, the need was increasing, my mind went off. My eyes were reading, but my mind was thinking whether someone had emailed me or posted something on my [Facebook] profile. What if someone tagged me on an unflattering picture? It was going to take me at least another 10 hours until I could remove the tag. My nerves were overwhelmed…”
No social media? I’m missing out!: As with many students in other countries, students in Chile were anxious to find out what was happening around them. The fact that they were not able to use social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter made students think that they were missing out on important things that were going on. Students constantly said they missed the interaction with friends or fans on the social network.
- “Last Sunday as I was required, I went on a journey to see how a day without media was. Any kind of media. And since I’m pretty much media-dependent, it wasn’t an easy task. Most of the time I felt the compulsion to just watch the TV, read the newspaper and sometimes I failed miserably to keep me away from media. I am just addicted to it.”
- “I think that it was like 1 hour and I wanted to turn on the computer and see what’s going on in Facebook and Twitter! Between 4 and 6 pm was horrible. I couldn’t focus on my studies.”
- “When I was in her bedroom she had her computer on… That was difficult! All I wanted in that moment was to see my Facebook, my Twitter, my Gmail.”
- “I kind of felt like I was missing something out and because my mates are all really Twitter and Facebook fans.”
- “I tried! I really did! I mean, my whole entire and complete life is connected (in an internet way of been “connected”) from the moment I wake up till the end of my day. Even in my dreams I see myself chatting, using Skype, Twitter, adding people on Facebook.”
“The only chance to avoid media completely is to lock yourself into your room or travel to some remote place. But in the city it’s nearly impossible.”
What if someone is trying to call me?: Like many students in other countries, students in Chile found it extremely difficult to make it through the day without their mobile phones. Many students felt as though people would be trying to reach them with urgent matters.
- “The idea of having the phone off was weird because if one person wanted to locate me (ex: for an emergency) it would be impossible.”
- “I was the designated driver and everyone was trying to contact me to figure out how we would get together and organize the night. I failed here: I just called everyone and told them how it was going to happen.”
- “I can avoid newspapers, radio or even TV for some days, but my cell phone was something that I really felt I needed, and being away from it made me feel desperate.”
- “Nowadays there is a social need of always being connected, of knowing everything that is going on… I looked around inside the metro and most of the people had earphones or were playing with their cell phones. I really wanted to do something like text a friend or play one of my cell phone games; these were one of the longest 15 minutes of my life. Here I realized my second symptom: I really missed my cell phone more than any other of my gadgets.”
“I think this experiment made me realize how I depend on media to entertain myself and to socialize. I realized that just because I was disconnected from my cell phone and Facebook or my email, I had to stay home on Saturday night.”
Music makes you fail: “Failure” was a key word for students from Chile as they spent time with friends and family only to remember that they had been listening to music via the radio or an iPod. Music was either being played around them, or students felt the need to play music in order to survive the 24 hours.
- “The only problem was that, in the middle of the trip, he turned on the radio and then I realized that my mission failed.”
- “Just as I started to tidy up my bedroom, I unconsciously turned on my IPod and started to hear music.”
- “During the experiment I failed several times because I needed to listen to music to have my mind busy on something.”
Rewarding Experience (within limits): Like students across the world, those from Chile also found an up-side in going media-free. Some students saw the day off as an opportunity to spend more time with their friends and family. For those students, the 24 hours without media made them think about how exhausting it actually is to constantly connected to media.
- “It was a good experience and I am thinking that sometimes we have to disconnect from media – to take a break from these technologies, whose use gets us tired.”
- “I can say that I had a great time not being distracted by time- and energy-consuming media. [Going unplugged gave me time] to consciously focus on things like intense thinking about all sorts of thoughts, as well as sharing these with a friend by having time to talk.”
- “I used the free day not to seek the stressful media packed everyday life; I went with a friend outside of Santiago to a natural reserve, where we spent the day hiking, talking and enjoying the wonderful nature on a sunny day.”
- “This ambition to be always up to date with what is going on can also build up a huge pressure and I think life would be much more relaxed if you had less access to the lives of everybody. Probably you would be more concerned with yourself, with what you are going to do this day or what is happening in the real world around you instead of wasting time on pages like Facebook or Twitter, trying to keep up with what everybody else has done today or is still up to. It can be a quite liberating experience not to be concerned about the others for once. At least that is what I felt during my day without media. But in the long run you might get quite lonesome.“
Quotes may have been edited to regularize spelling and grammar.