The Discomfort Zone – A Week Without Facebook

Kate Hicks

Day One: Kate feels like a heroin addict quitting cold turkey.

Luckily, Monday’s schedule doesn’t allow me to get on my computer for class. This is because I am, without fail, late for my 9:20 stats class every day I have it. As I’m always racing to get there, I can’t check my email or Facebook, and then I have a full day of classes until 2:35. So almost half the day has gone by before I’m back in my room and I wake up my computer. As it beeps and buzzes to life, I think “I can do this. It’s not like I’m addicted to Facebook. I don’t have to…oh shoot. That girl from my core class might have friended me, and I can’t ignore her. That would be rude. Maybe I should…” It’s been all of thirty seconds and I’m already making excuses for myself to cheat. For a moment, I let my cursor hover over the Facebook shortcut on my bookmark bar before I recover my control and click on the link to my email. I have a few unremarkable messages, and nothing that allows me to procrastinate for long.

Bored after five minutes of rereading these emails, I slam my laptop closed and survey my options: clean the room or study. I make up a few chores for myself, go running, eat and then face the inevitable: I have to study. I head to Case around 8p.m. with a pile of books, no computer, and start working. Without even realizing my high level of productivity, I look up at the clock at about midnight and discover I have worked my way through all the work I had to do. This is a first. Usually, I just give up trying to work at about one, and go to bed. This time, I literally have nothing to do but sleep. Cool. For the first time since school began, I go to bed at 12:30. But just to be sure I don’t get up later to cheat, I take a Tylenol PM.

Day Two: Kate has discovered the Drudge Report in a desperate attempt to avoid studying.

It’s Tuesday, which is the most boring day of the week. My three roommates are gone all day (the price you pay when living with three girls who take labs), and I have nothing to do but surf Facebook or study. The first is a non-option, and I can’t bring myself to work just yet. So instead, I turn to my father’s favorite method of distraction: The Drudge Report, a site of news articles compiled from all over the Internet.

As I peruse the dozens of links kindly provided for my procrastination, I find a veil of shame slowly lowering over my consciousness. I have neglected to keep up with world affairs in favor of — that’s right — Facebook. I spend the next few hours reading copious articles on the tanking economy and election scandals. Sufficiently depressed thanks to the state of the world, I then head off to the gym where a friend from last year’s FSEM soundly defeats me eight out of eight times in squash. I meet her and another FSEM friend for dinner, then head off to a class movie. When I get back to my room at eleven, I am tired enough to fall asleep, so I do, and I don’t even need a Tylenol PM to keep me off Facebook.

Day Three: Kate changed her homepage to Drudge, went eight whole hours without thinking about Facebook, and is super sore from squash.

Wednesday’s schedule mirrors Monday’s, in that I wake up late, race across campus to my 9:20, and don’t go home until after my 1:20. When I get home today, the first thing I do is check Drudge, which is quickly replacing Facebook as my new Internet addiction. Then, I do homework. Seriously, I spend the next three and a half hours catching up on reading I didn’t have time to do last week. Then I go to dinner, and then I spend the next four hours at the library, sans computer, starting next week’s English and political science reading. By the end of the day, I have been more productive than I was the entire previous week.

Day Four: Kate is making a list.

Things I Have Done Instead of Facebook:

RunWash dishesClean my roomChange my sheets/do laundry for the first time in three weeksSee friendsRead the newsDo last week’s core readingDo this week’s core readingStart this columnDo actual work in the libraryGo to bed at a reasonable hourLearn a new sport (and form sixteen new bruises in the process)Speak with my motherShowerSo far, this week is working out well.

Day Five: Kate returns to Facebook.

Curiosity gets the better of my by seven this evening (I have spent my day in the library working, because that’s what you do when you’re not tethered to a computer). I have a theory: we only say we use Facebook to keep in touch with friends. In reality, that’s a side effect of our hours of clicking around and noticing a change in someone’s relationship status or some ridiculous picture of our friends from high school. So in returning to Facebook, I guess that I won’t have too many notifications, because I’m with everyone at school and they can just call me, and my friends at other schools are too busy to bother with me. I’m surprised, therefore, to find that I have 27 notifications, two messages, three event invitations and two friend requests (one of whom is, yes, the girl from my CORE class).

Then I discover that only three of those notices are from people writing on my wall; the rest are all thanks to my roommate, who decided to exploit my absence from Facebook by posting pictures she found on the web and claiming they are me (so FYI, if you’re Facebook stalking me and notice various ridiculous pictures of people falling, nuns or gorillas running a 5k, that’s not actually me, for the record). I answer the wall posts, grant the friend requests, RSVP to the invites, stare blankly at my homepage, and realize that this bores me. Without another thought, I quit my browser and go talk to my roommates instead of stalk them on the Internet. Reality is so underrated.