How Social Media Is Affecting Our Focus

How Social Media Is Affecting Our Focus

Social media is creating a distracted culture.
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During the fall semester of my first year at college, one of my communications professors challenged us with a social media fast. We were able to take as much time off from social media as we needed. Thus, some students lasted two weeks, while others only made it through one day. I actually went through a week of no social media. I was pretty impressed with myself! My results of the fast did not show that social media is directly affecting relationships, but people as individuals. Social media is literally rewiring our brains to multitask, leaving American citizens unable to focus on one topic at a time. Of course, this multitasking mayhem consequently affects our relationships and every other aspect of our lives.

The Internet and social media are transforming the way we learn and remember facts by overloading our memories with useless information. Scientifically, our intelligence is measured by how well our brains convert information from short- term memory to long-term memory. Our working memory, or short-term memory, is only able to retain certain amounts of information at one time. After learning a certain skill, our memories require four to twelve hours to process that information to long-term memory. If another skill is learned within those four to twelve hours, both skills are insufficiently executed. A common source of working memory overload comes from divided attention, which is found when we use social media.

Social media is physically training our brains to multitask and skim reading materials. With suggested videos, advertisements, hyperlinks, notifications, and the immediate access to other’s lives, social media is a haven for confusion and frenzied opinions. Unfortunately, social media seizes our attention only to scatter it. Social media commands our attention at a much faster rate than other media sources, such as newspapers, radio, and even television. Because of our nation’s addiction to social media, our brains are trained to be distracted in other areas of our lives.

As students attempt to fully concentrate and study, our phones are always by our sides, distracting us and breaking our motivation. Even if we turn off our phones, our minds always have a thousand tabs open, as we’re simultaneously thinking about what to eat for dinner, the test next week, and the funny dog video on Facebook. During my social media fast, my intense multitasking became clear. Surprisingly, the fast was not as difficult as I expected. However, I did notice myself picking up my phone or creating a new tab for Facebook whenever my mind wondered. Although, I remembered the fast seconds after opening social media and immediately logged out of my accounts. As I studied for a test, I was highly distracted by other things that I still had to complete or events that occurred that day. Because I did not have social media as a placeholder for when I was distracted, my brain wondered from subject to subject, as it attempted to juggle all of the different topics. I could not focus on one matter at a time and properly retain information. Of course, social media may not a distraction for some people. However, it definitely encourages it in all of us.

Because of social media, the multitasking mayhem happening in our country is consequently affecting our relationships, as people are no longer able to focus on personal, in-depth friendships. Our society values the quantity of friends over the quality of friends, when it should be the opposite. I will admit that I have had trouble building personal relationships while also maintaining social media accounts. People, especially my generation, are more concerned with maintaining their followers on Instagram than the few relationships that will lend a shoulder to cry on in times of desperate need. As we are constantly training our brains to be distracted, our personal relationships suffer. So, put down the phone, close that Facebook tab, and actually spend time with those who matter to you.

Cover Image Credit: Google Pics

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21 Lies College Students Tell Their Parents

I can almost guarantee that you have used at least five of these.

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Let's be honest. College is the best time of your life for a lot of reasons, and maybe you should not tell your mom all of them when she calls. I can almost guarantee that you have used at least five of these, and the others — maybe you should try next time!

1. "I can't talk now, I'm in the library."

Typically used when the student is too hungover to talk.

2. "Gotta go now, I'm walking into class."

Then hit play on Netflix.

3. "I think it might be food poisoning."

Was it the food, or all of that alcohol? Your symptoms sound more like a hangover to me.

4. "No, I didn't just wake up."

It is 4 p.m. and, yes, you did.

5. "I need more money for laundry and food."

Meaning, "I need more money for things I don't think you will give me money for."

6. "I never skip class!"

When we use this one, it usually does not refer to anything before 11 a.m.

7. "I studied all night for that test!"

If by "studied all night" you mean you watched TV shows in the library, then, yes, all night.

8. "Everyone failed that test."

And by everyone, I mean me and my friend who did not go to sleep until 3 a.m.

9. "I'm walking home from breakfast with my friends."

Yeah, OK. You are just lucky she cannot see last night's outfit and the high heels you are carrying. We know where you have been.

10. "Potbelly's is a restaurant."

I mean, they may sell tacos, but I'm not sure I would call it a restaurant.

11. "I go to Cantina's for the Nachos."

I hope that is not the only reason but, hey, you do you.

12. "The $40 charge on the card from last Saturday? That was for school supplies!"

Yeah, right. It was for a new dress.

13. "Nobody goes out on weeknights, especially not me."

We all know grades come first, right?

14. "I can't remember the last time I went out!"

Literally.

15. "I make my bed regularly"

About as often as I clean the bathroom.

16. "I did not say 'Margarita Monday,' I said I went to 'Margaret's on Monday'!"

Following the use of this lie, do not post any pictures on social media of you with a margarita.

17. "I use my meal plan, and eat in the dining hall all the time."

As you scarf down Chick-fil-A.

18. "I eat healthy!"

For those without a meal plan who have to grocery shop on their own, we all know you spend $2 on a 12-pack of Ramen noodles and the rest on a different kind of 12-pack.

19. "No, I don't have a fake ID."

OK, "John Smith," and where exactly in Wyoming are you from?

20. "I'm doing great in all of my classes."

We use this one because you cannot see our grades online, anymore.

21. "I did not wait until the last minute to start on this."

We all know that if you start a paper before 10 p.m. the night before it is due, you are doing something wrong.

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To Love a Broken Vase — An Ode To Valentine's Day

"To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides." --David Viscott, How to Live with Another Person, 1974

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I remember an anecdote my elementary school teacher told us in the fifth grade. When a mother is pregnant with a child, they feel comfortable in their flesh. Provided with everything they needed to survive, they don't have to worry about anything. It's not until after they are born and the umbilical chord is severed that they realized they were not good enough, and insecurities fester.

I went through a similar process when I was growing up. Contained within my family and books, I felt like I held the world in my hands. It was not until high school where I seriously sought out others for company and wanted to apply myself to the social universe. And I saw myself changing in not only my behaviors, but how I see myself within the world.

With working hard to get good grades, with trying to get my driver's license, and becoming a better person overall, I realized the process involved a lot more effort than I ever had expected. And I found myself unprepared for the slow drudgery of it all. While I once pushed through to get things done, now I find myself giving up on projects while coming up with new ones. I frequently turned to my laptop for solace, as it kept my fantasies alive, but it also stole time away from me.

These behaviors showed in my relationships: I found it hard to meet up with friends, and my parents started worrying about what would my future look like. With the latter, I've had multiple conflicts with them, with me asserting I wanted to be free from everything, including accountability. Of course, that perception was quite unrealistic — to love and be loved, as well as to succeed, there has to a tug to know when you're doing something wrong.

***

A year ago, I wrote an article about how I saw romantic love from somebody who has never been in a relationship. Many things still apply today — I'm better off working towards my educational and career goals than seeking out love, though with Valentine's Day, it still fascinates me on whether or not I could be loved from somebody else.

From what I've heard from others, they would be charmed by my intelligence and kindness, neither fulfilling the stereotype of a nerd nor the perfect angel. However, the naivete would also put someone off, and potentially puts them in danger. I also see myself as the spontaneous type, but to the point where I forget where my priorities are, again making them worse than they really are. I imagine they would be intrigued by me as a friend or a lover, but end up breaking away after a short amount of time.

I don't imagine finding myself loving other people in the short term; however, I find myself open towards others. And that what makes me more afraid about how people view me--will they not be able to see the positives in myself when the time comes? Will they be just as capable of forgiving me the same way my family does?

At the end, I should take my friend's advice for Valentine's Day — love oneself. And take actions to make sure that I can love myself deeper and further.

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