Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg. Ever since I became exposed to your social-networking leviathan, Facebook, in early 2009, I’ve been hooked on it. I feel compelled to visit the site at least five times a day to satisfy my entertaining needs, and to post popular, witty statuses on a regular basis. SO many times, in fact, that my friends refer to me as the “Facebook Queen”. But lately I feel like I, and some of my peers may agree, have been so consumed with being online and sharing news, that I seem to have been caught off-guard by the purpose of truly living. Often I’d sit and wonder why I don’t do as many exciting things as my Facebook “friends” do, but I realized that now is the time to act on it, not complain. From this conflict, I have issued a proposition to be cut off from the popular website for one whole week. That’s right, seven days. As I chronicle each day without it, I hope that this challenge re-teaches me the lesson of time, how it should be spent wisely during finals week. On top of that, I aspire for it to provide me with a new insight of the heavily-technological world our society lives in.
Day One- Monday, January 10, 2011:
Waking up has never felt so boring. On a regular basis, I awake to the sound of my iTouch blasting MGMT through my iHome’s speakers. Instinctively, I grab my favorite gadget and suppress my thumb on the familiar blue and white app sitting on the home screen. But this morning was different. There, my iTouch stood playing music, and I laid in bed with a sense of frustration. No Facebook in the morning? What am I putting myself through? Arising and preparing for school just didn’t feel normal; I felt like part of myself was missing.
When I first took this challenge, I acknowledged the struggles of temptation to visit the site once I arrived at school. It’s kind of hard to imagine nowadays a high school student, let alone teacher, who doesn’t have a Facebook account. With constant overheard conversations such as “Did you see what she posted last night?”, to “They’re dating. It’s FBO, haven’t you heard?”, I found myself struggling to not to tune in and continue talking about my favorite website.
Most of the afternoon was peaceful, since my iTouch can’t connect to Facebook through the school wireless, and I was engaged in what any high school student should be doing during finals week: studying. Lunch, however, didn’t ease my debacle. My eccentric yet lovable lunch buddies taped videos of our adventures to eventually be posted onto the website. Joy. Yearbook didn’t seem to be any better, as much as I love being in the class. Our editor-in-chief, senior Anne-Marie Coffee, insisted on yearbook promotion this week through the continuous postings concerning yearbook purchases on Facebook. Everyone on staff had to take part. Brilliant. Guess who became the only exception to that rule? Yeah, I thought so.
I returned home from school all weary and drained, with never-ending thoughts about exams swirling through my head. Because my usual routine of resting with Facebook was postponed, I resorted to continue studying for all of my tests, Calculus AB, in particular. Looking at paper instead of a screen made me sick. If I wanted to stare at paper all day, I would’ve stayed at school. This so-called “Facebook-fast” couldn’t end any faster.
Day Two- Tuesday, January 11, 2011
After barely surviving yesterday’s obstacles, I was amazed by how long I resisted visiting Facebook. It seemed like this day was a bit more bearable, to say the least. I am notorious for writing about the crazy dreams I have the night before, and they’re usually really popular in status “likes”. Today was no different, as I dreamt of tango-ing to a very popular, yet totally wacky choice of song (not revealed due to potential explicit content). As silly as my imagination was, I shared this odd news to my lunch buddies, and admitted my desires to post it. It wasn’t until my friend, senior Julia Guerra, poked an imaginary “Like” button in the air that I went totally ballistic. Another reminder. Aghhh!!! Luckily, I was able to hold it off. After school ended, I conversed with another good friend, senior Michael Zaiontz, about my “social-networking diet”. After blaming me for getting him addicted to Facebook in the first place, he praised my attempts to stay away from the site, and encouraged me to keep going. I love my friends.
When I got home, I found myself straying from my laptop sitting cunningly on my desk. My future of using it was drawing near; I was bound to type up last-minute thesis statements and study for Mr. Davidson’s English final the next day. Turns out, studying without distractions wasn’t as bad as I thought. Okay, so I watched the Spurs defeat Minnesota. Who else in San Antonio wasn’t watching it? But shortly afterwards, I wrapped up my study time to go get ready for bed. Hello, seven hours of sleep.
Day Three- Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I woke up this morning with a trembling fear. Surprisingly, it wasn’t from experiencing Facebook withdrawals, but rather, the extensive English exam that awaited for me in the upcoming hours of my day. Knowing that this particular assessment was my hardest out of the four I’m required to take, I spent a majority of my morning in the school library, preparing for last-minute details for my English review.
For the rest of the school day, I breezed through classes, and confidently confronted Mr. Davidson’s final. Maybe it wasn’t a complete cake-walk, but it was sure pretty easy. I give myself credit for the nearly distraction-free setting I composed yesterday. With my lunch period being extended to 90 minutes for 5th period exams, I found my reward in my hard work by spending a majority of [lunch] playing a hilarious game of Catchphrase. For those of you that aren’t aware of what that is, look it up and BUY IT. So maybe I don’t know what’s going on in the Facebook world at the moment, but hey, I felt more satisfaction communicating and playing games like Catchphrase with others face-to-face. Mission almost complete, right?
The latter part of my day seemed as mellow as ever, as I continued working on both Newspaper and Yearbook duties at my second home, the Publications room of the school. Even after I attended my softball meeting, I felt the need to study for my macroeconomics exam, and then attempt to go to bed early. Here’s to trying.
Day Four- Thursday, January 13, 2011
Just one more day of macroeconomics. Just one more day. These words kept circling through my head as I hastily got ready for school. I was also lucky to have my younger sister, Miranda, help me study for my first period final the night before; I went to bed last night feeling nervous. Nervous, but confident. Still, I aspired to continue studying from the get-go before I entered Room B214. From the time I sat on the bus on the way to school, to the time I stepped foot on campus, I glanced at all of my notes and review for the semester. Hooray for having a photographic memory! I walked into my classroom of stressed classmates, and approached my exam with the greatest tool I could ever possess: my intelligence.
Walking out of the classroom 90 minutes later, I felt relieved. I did it. I’m DONE. Brain dead as I was, I knew that as soon as I turned in my test, I succeeded. Not to say the test was easy; it was crazy difficult. All those graphs and policies, is SO much to take in such a small time frame. Nevertheless, I remained assured that I performed well, because if I didn’t, I would’ve been SO SCREWED. And being screwed on the last semester that counts towards final rank and GPA isn’t idealistic for a student like me, isn’t it? I walked to calculus knowing that [that test] was the only one I had to take for the rest of the day, and that school would be released at 1:30 PM. YES.
The next few classes swept through really fast, in preparation for the semester exam in seventh period. After a test like that, all I really wanted to do was go home and nap. With seventh [period] being a student aide to English teacher and NHS sponsor Ms. Williams, I hoped for my mom to come and pick me up early so I could SLEEP. It made sense, because there is no exam being an assistant. And as much as I love being in such a wonderful learning environment like Ms. Williams’s classroom, I was dead tired. Mommy, please come.
It looked like my hints of me leaving school early worked. After picking something up from the printer for Ms. Williams, senior David Eberwine handed me the coveted “golden ticket of freedom”. Hallelujah. As soon as I returned to the classroom, I got all of my things and headed out the door. Nap time, here I come.
My mom and my youngest sister, Sabrina, sat in the attendance office waiting. Smiling as I approached them, we all departed. My plans of napping were postponed, however, due to a necessary trip to HEB to buy groceries. Brilliant. Surprisingly, it only took a matter of thirty minutes to get everything we needed. Now that’s record timing. The two short stops of picking up Miranda from her school and having Whataburger for lunch sufficed. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
It’s best to say that I could not recollect the next 2-3 hours. I reluctantly glanced at my iHome to find the time marking “5:30 PM”. Sudden reminders to study for the devious Biology final I was to take the next day, along with writing my yearbook story about the Brahmadoras, flashed across my face. Holy hot sauce. Tonight was going to be a doozy.
Not once did I ever think about Facebook, as I flipped through my notes and chapter reviews, AND wrote the intro to my story due the next day. Fully aware of my study habits, my mom came into my room and took me to Starbucks, my home away from home.
Usually, when I post something on Facebook, it’s about an experience I deal with the day of that post. Several instances have proven to be popular, and this trip to Starbucks definitely added itself on that list. When I ordered my tall, nonfat, decaf latte, the lady that took my order noticed my James Avery treble clef necklace. Smiling with content, she asked if I liked music. I responded by telling her that I loved it (because it is a big part of my life). She then told me that she was a music teacher, which caught me by surprise. After finishing our friendly conversation, I returned on home with a feeling of content. It wasn’t until I carried on studying that I grabbed my coffee and saw the huge smiley face the lady at Starbucks drew. Looking at it immediately reassured me that everything was going to be okay. Maybe there is hope in this world, after all. Right then, I knew I wanted to post something about this little example of happiness and imagine the numerous “likes” I would receive with it, but I just couldn’t. AGHHHH. Once I thought about it, however, I felt like I wasn’t completely restrained. Maybe I can keep this piece of contentment to myself, for once. And so I did.
Day Five- Friday, January 14, 2011
Today concluded the week of final exams. I went to school unsure if I could pass my Biology test; I spent the latter part of last night completing my yearbook story that was due today. Fear stirred inside me as I kept hearing from my friends in other classes of the test’s difficulty, even with studying involved. At this point, I just wanted to get it over with. I already fully dedicated myself into studying for these finals with no distractions whatsoever, and I wasn’t going to stop now.
I’ll admit that purusing through my 99 question test wasn’t so enticing. I knew most of the lessons pretty well, with the exception of cellular respiration. It didn’t help that that particular unit was a big chunk of the exam itself. Why, Biology? Why? As exhausted as I was, I fought through it, and simply went with my instincts. Unsure of my performance, I turned it in with a huge sigh of relief. NO MORE EXAMS.
I spent the rest of my school day in the Publications room. Prior to that, my calculus teacher, Mr. Jennings, informed me of my test results: 93. Score! Earning one of the highest grades in my class was absolutely awesome. I still can’t imagine what my grade would’ve been if I’d been on Facebook that night. Probably lower than a 93, that’s for sure.
Eager of my other test results, I visited Mr. Davidson’s room, where after he “kindly” teased me, informed me of my final exam grade for English: 95. Success!! Knowing that I gave up at least two days of social networking definitely paid off. I was on a roll.
After kicking back and discussing matters in Newspaper, I left school with an indescribable feeling of excitement. Two of my four exams were A’s at the moment, and I anticipated my other results. In the mean time, I let all of my accomplishments soak in, and awaited the trip home.
I sat with my neighbor, Lassie Co-captain and sophomore Dominique Cole, on the bus ride home. We shared a really heartfelt conversation, which involved her mentioning of a house close by recently burning down. Such emotion and sincerity at that moment reinforced the idea that talking face-to-face was, and is more rewarding and memorable than one composed online. It also reminded me that there are more serious situations that are more significant than changing a simple status on Facebook. Mission almost complete.
Home at last. I eagerly waited to spend time with my aunt, and of sleeping in on a three day weekend. To make matters even better, I discovered that I made a 103 on my MacroEco AP exam. After all of the triumphs I made throughout this week without Facebook, all I can say is whoa.
Day Six- Saturday, January 15, 2011
I expected this weekend to be extremely difficult, to say the least. At school, I was at least distracted from the Facebook distraction altogether; but at home, I was doomed. How was I supposed to keep myself from going on the website? The cold and rainy weather outside didn’t ease the situation much either. The prevention of a relapse was imminent.
Luckily my love for Glee assisted in entertaining me a majority of the day. Miranda and I ended up watching all of the current episodes from season 2 on the DVR. How productive of us. Honestly, spending quality time with my sister before college turned out to be wonderful.
Later that night, my aunt offered to take me to the movies to see Black Swan, a film I’d been vying to see for weeks. My friends would constantly speak of it at school, and I felt like I was missing out on something spectatcular, a feeling I felt when I first experienced on my Facebook-free experiment. When I left the movie theater, I finally understood all of the hype surrounding the movie. My mind was BLOWN AWAY. For those who haven’t seen this movie, you definitely need to watch it fast. I felt content knowing I found a way to pull myself away from the computer sitting at home.
People often say that if you give up something, you often find something even better. This saying applied to me, as I read my Entertainment Weekly “Must List”. One of the topics on there talked about the viral YouTube video of Josh Groban singing Kanye West’s tweets. Intrigued by this snippet of news, I went online to find myself literally ROTFLing while watching it. As if I didn’t love Josh Groban enough, this sensational gag made me adore him even more. All I can say is “I make awesome decisions in bike stores”.
Day Seven- Sunday, January 16, 2011
Since I spent time going to the movies with my aunt yesterday, [my aunt and I] both agreed that it be my sisters’ day for fun. That being said, the three of them went on to Willies’ for lunch and games while I spent time at home finishing laundry. I know, folding clothes sounds like so much fun, doesn’t it? I honestly didn’t mind, because I needed something to keep me away from visiting Facebook, which was becoming remarkably easier everyday . But since laundry can only take a person like me so far in life, engaging in another activity was necessary. I found myself watching The Secret Life of the American Teenager on ABC Family, which was definitely not as intriguing as Black Swan, but nevertheless, distracting.
Once my aunt and the girls returned, we all rested for a few hours. I ended up catching part of The Golden Globes until my fellow Brahma Tales staffer and best friend, junior Estefania Lamas, called me and invited me to her house. It didn’t take me long to contemplate about it, and sooner than later, I arrived to a night of festivities. Finally, a girl’s night.
The only thing I worried about once I got to Stef’s house was the temptation to break my challenge and log in to my Facebook account. A fellow addict herself, Stef constantly has her page open while working on debate work. Man, does this make my situation any better.
Ironically, resisting the site wasn’t as bad as I thought. We did what every normal girl does when she watches She’s the Man: scream every time Channing Tatum comes on screen. Facials, snacking, talking, singing, and dancing called for another perfectly epic night with one of my wonderful friends. This one’s for you Stef. 🙂
The Day After- Monday, January 17, 2011
12:30 AM hit, and Stef and I were still up talking about who-knows-what. I enjoy that, because no matter how silly our conversations get, I find much more happiness out of them. I guess it’s the emotions that come out of saying such whacky things, or the opinions we have on serious topics, that makes them more memorable. I didn’t even think about Facebook, until she reminded me that I have complete access to the site. I contemplated this scenario, and reflect on the experiences I went through without having it. Wow, one week. I actually did it.
When I first accessed Facebook on Stef’s computer, I anticipated on what I had missed. But as I checked the notifications box, I noticed that there weren’t as many notices as I expected. Weird. I was missed in my poke-wars though, as I saw on the right column of the screen a total of 30 pokes. 30 pokes? Insane, I tell you. Quickly I skimmed through the news feed, occasionally “liking” statuses that I found “like-worthy”. Stef kept remarking that I was indeed an addict; but the more I thought about it, I actually felt like I didn’t miss out on much.I was merely viewing what’d occured over the last week of my absence. So this person did this, no big deal. I wouldn’t have said that last week.
Many of my peers are still unsure as to why I did this experiment. At times, I often wonder myself. Did I seek to accomplish the impossible for our age demographic? Maybe. But what I really wanted was to go beyond the dare of being “Facebook-free” for a week, and rediscover the things outside of mere virtual boundaries. With this week, I found many things. First, I found patience. All that time I wasn’t on Facebook went towards engaging in other activities; keeping myself busy and entertained at the same time. Such patience drove me to a valuable lesson of using time wisely. If I hadn’t of been so driven to do well on my semester exams, I wouldn’t have gotten the scores I earned. Finally, along with the adventures I embarked on during this curious challenge, I found something I thought I lost for good. I found myself.