Monday, June 17Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Has Facebook taken over?

Beth Carr explores how we struggle to switch off from social media

Think about the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning. Or the last thing you do at night. Or the thing that comes top of your procrastination list throughout the day. If it starts with ‘F’ and ends with ‘book’ you are not alone, and for some students websites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram take up huge amounts of their time. What makes it worse is that social media is central to many aspects of student life and switching off is something that seems near impossible without extreme fears that you are missing out. Social media is the first port of call for sports, societies and media outlets to post their news and let members know what’s going on, because members are most likely to see it there.

Before the social media boom you would find out about your friend’s new boyfriend or job via a carefully crafted letter, or at least via text. Now there’s no personal touch, just a blanket tweet or status update presented to the world saying “look at me, this is my life”. We present an image on social media and, more often than not, that image is as close to perfection as we can manage. Social media so often obscures the parts of our lives that we’d rather nobody saw. We bury the breakdowns in Bedford, airbrush the bags under our eyes and focus on the good times.

The reliance on technology extends far further than Facebook and onto our phones. Our apps cover social media, games and even email, making it hard to be uncontactable or out of the loop. Some weeks, especially in the midst of deadlines, college emails can fill up with department reminders, meeting arrangements with tutors and spam from various societies you signed up to and then immediately regretted when you realised you had neither the interest not the money to join. Sifting through the emails and notifications become yet another form of unneeded procrastination.

I’ve tried multiple times to switch off from social media. Yet a day at work away from my phone brought sixteen notifications from Facebook alone: posts, messages and events which I would otherwise not know about if I had not checked. But when I went through them, how many did I really care about? Three or four maximum. Gone are the days of Farmville requests, but these are rapidly replaced by a myriad of invitations to launch nights, fundraisers, and reminders of society events. However, amongst information that seems pointless there are the gems of information that make logging on worthwhile: a new opportunity with your favourite society, timings for that show on campus you don’t want to miss, or just the fact that an old friend finally got a boyfriend.

Facebook, and the internet in general, is extensive, we become slaves to the information it provides and obsess over every word, but it has become the backbone of student society. We cannot avoid social media but it should prompt a rethink of how we interact with others. Don’t waste your time scrolling through what life could be like – do something and get back in touch with reality!