Social Media Hiatus (Creative Project)

Social media hiatuses are something myself and many of my friends have always utilized when we have a big task coming up. The rationale behind these breaks is that we’re taking a step back from social media because we acknowledge it as something that may not necessarily be beneficial. When there is no heavy workload it is pretty easy to dedicate so much time to social media and still stay on par but with tests or big tasks ahead that changes.

For my project, I tapped into this and reached out to four friends between 17 and 26 to explore breaks from social media and look out for the impacts it has on their productivity in the time frame they are away. The time spent away and the apps given up were all left to the discretion of the participants and some took as little as two days off to assist with studying for exams while some took as long as a month off as it allowed them to navigate much more important points in their life. The decision to allow them choose the social media platforms was inspired by the idea that what may some may refer to as social media may be an essential app for another especially in relation to jobs and the like.

Following the hiatus, each participant sent in a video answering questions about their break, the changes it led to in their productivity, their opinions on the impact of social media in their lives and whether or not they are acquainted with the Apple screen time feature which has inspired many to rethink how much time they are spending on social media.

The consensus seemed to be that social media has its positives and if navigated well, can be a great tool but in the same vein, has the ability to be harmful to one’s productivity and prevent its users from living in the moment. 

My final paper will look at social media’s impact on productivity and so I thought this creative project fit in almost perfectly. I think in terms of topics we looked at in class, this project related most to the modules on social media and the procrastination economy. On a larger scale, I feel it helped everyone involved think critically of the impact of their choices in relation to the internet which is a huge part of what this class has been about.

In creating my project, I made use of Premiere Pro to edit videos that were recorded by iPhones.

Research Paper Draft

Technology has become a central part of the lives of many. Young and old today clutch to the internet in the quest for new information and devices that have only come about in the past twenty years. Despite the obvious advantages that can be named, conversations about how much of an impact the time we spend on our devices has on how much work we manage to get done these days are rife.

While a huge part of it comes down to personal traits, there is no doubt that there are ways that technology and particularly social media manages to retain its users often at the cost of actually working towards a particular goal. According to Eileen Brown, these distractions go beyond simply preventing workers in a workplace from losing because it leads to less work but also has an impact as it creates an environment for security threats to thrive which in turn leads to an even bigger fall off in productivity.

As such, many companies institute policies around social media that aim to maximize productivity. While online dating sites and the like are on one end of the spectrum of banned websites, commonplace social media networks like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat are also restricted because of the impact they are perceived to have. The limiting of access in workplaces could spell the beginning of an era where there is more caution about consumer behavior. This year for instance, Apple and Facebook have introduced Screen Time features. With Facebook and Instagram, the feature allows users determine how much time they’ve spent on both apps and also receive warnings when they’ve come close to any limits they set. With Apple, the feature allows users to gauge how much time they have spent on different applications on their phone in general. The introduction of such a feature is an attempt to redirect the attention of users to their habits relating to technology. It may not necessarily appear to be in Facebook or Instagram’s best interests to introduce these features but perhaps it is in their best interest from a business standpoint. By introducing these features, the expectation is that users like myself become more conscious about their use of social media and technology and by doing so perhaps create rules of engagement for themselves which in turn up productivity and lead to businesses easing off on their policies restricting its use on their networks.

Final Website Self Assessment

Since it’s initial inception, my website has not changed much but instead has become populated with more content. I always dreamt of this as a portfolio for my work and while it is not yet at the level I hope it is someday with the type of content on it, I am happy it exists and happy that I finally took the step to do it in its rawest form.

Creating the website was a lot easier than I thought it would be and because I was the only eye that needed to be satisfied with it, I felt it was easier to create than normal.

I intend on keeping the website as my portfolio and delving into creating similar websites for different individuals as I go forward.

Creative Project Rough Draft

My creative project will take a look at the points of view of myself and my peers on the impact of social media on productivity after a period away from social media.

I have reached out to about 5 different friends, dominantly students and some in the professional world who have agreed to give up social media or a certain network for varying amounts of time in the next two weeks.

Following this social media hiatus, they will all send me one minute videos answering certain question which will then be combined and put together for a short video on the impact of social media on our productivity and why we continue to return to these apps that we could argue aren’t necessarily the best for our output.

Extra Credit #2: Turner Studios Visit

On the 9th of November, I was a part of a group of about 25 Emory Film and Media students who visited the office of Turner Studios in Atlanta between 9am and 1pm.

The visit covered everything from production to post-production and put me and my peers in conversation with media industry professionals. It started off with an introduction from an Emory alum who now heads content creation and moved into a tour of the facility. We started off at the NBA on TNT studios and moved to control rooms where we learned. a little bit about the production process. We then experienced an editing suite which covered the elements of the post-production process including sound design. We quickly moved on and heard from a group of animators and designers who spoke about 3D, design and color correction before interrogating a panel on the course of action we should be taking today as we look to hopefully enter the industry.

A particularly interesting part of the trip for me was getting to see the NBA on TNT studio and heard from editors on the process of creating a March Madness advert featuring Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith this past year.

It was also important to hear about some of the skills needed if interested in someday working in television. 

Annotated Bibliography

Al-Hariri MT, Al-Hattami AA.Impact of students’ use of technology on their learning achievements in physiology courses at the University of Dammam. J Taibah Univ Med Sc 2017;12(1):82e85.

Al-Hariri and Al-Hattami argue that there is a need for a shift from a today’s situation where technology is sparsely integrated into health education to one where it is at the heart. They design a study to determine if there is a relationship between success in physiology courses and their use of technology as well as the devices most used by students in question.

Attempting to chart the relationship between technology and academic success, they send out a survey to all second year students (231 male students) at the colleges of health at the University of Dammam. The survey involved students ranking certain questions on a scale of strongly disagree to strongly agree and each question carried some weight on the bigger question of their use of technology. The results found that there is a significant relationship between student technology use and their success at the various health colleges. They further found that most students who use technology use laptops with about 52% of the respondents stating so and the minority use desktop computers with only 0.5% stating so.

This source is important because it offers a perspective from outside the US but also because it helps to show the different kinds of technology being used. The methods for collecting data are a worrisome because surveys don’t necessarily indicate reality and perhaps qualitative methods should have been used instead.

Brown, Eileen. “How Website Filtering Affects Workplace Productivity.” ZDNet, ZDNet, 23 July 2018, 18:06, www.zdnet.com/article/how-website-filtering-affects-workplace-productivity/

Brown’s article looks at how the problem of addiction to technology is being combatted by companies in the professional world. Through surveys she shows how almost a month of employees years are spent on completely unrelated websites to their job if given the opportunity. She also looks into how through filtering the websites allowed in the workplace, productivity can be maximised.

While it’s an attempt at limiting the use of technology, Brown raises the point that many employees will still do whatever they need to do to access blocked websites, often using their own personal networks.

Brown’s article is important to my research because it incorporates the means of limiting technology that I have grappled with. It also shows how the future could shape up considering the reliance many members of my generation have with social media.

Pardes, Arielle. “Want to Curb Phone Use? Facebook and Instagram Have an Idea.” Wired, Conde Nast, 1 Aug. 2018, 7:00AM, www.wired.com/story/facebook-instagram-app-time-controls/.

Pardes looks into the different initiatives that have been taken by corporations like Facebook to make users more conscious of their use of the Instagram and Facebook. She articulates the road to implementing the screen time feature and speaks of it as a part of a larger plot from Mark Zuckerberg to get users to best spend their time on the application particularly following the Cambridge Analytica controversies.

This article is important because it serves as a backdrop to the inspiration for the work I hope to do with my research. Without its recency, investigating the role of applications like Instagram and Facebook in our day to day lives is unlikely to be as important as it currently is.

Nduhura, Dominique, and Michael Prieler. “When I Chat Online, I Feel Relaxed and Work Better: Exploring the Use of Social Media in the Public Sector Workplace in Rwanda.” Telecommunications Policy, vol. 41, no. 7/8, Aug. 2017, pp. 708–716. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.telpol.2017.05.008.

Nduhura and Prieler look at the Rwandan public sector as they delve into the impact that social media can have in the workplace. Being dubbed the best promoter of the ICT sector in 2015 by the World Economic Forum creates an interesting case for observing Rwanda. They briefly touch on the pros and cons of social media highlighting productivity under the cons. Following interviews about whether or not they did use social media and if they did so for non-workplace related work.

The findings revealed that while the employees did utilize social media for non workplace related work, they did so in moderation and understood the importance of only using social media in free time. This article offers some insight into how powerful social media could be when used in moderation and not relied on but also the need for some control.

Orszag, Peter R. “Why Productivity Isn’t Keeping Up With Technology.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 11 July 2018, 11:38AM, www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-07-11/why-productivity-can-t-keep-up-with-advances-in-technology

Peter Orszag articulates how despite the improvements in technology that we continue to experience, productivity may not be rising anywhere near as fast, if at all. Orszag looks at the topic in a much bigger context than just academically or from a more youth-oriented perspective than how I had been thinking about it but it’s extremely relevant to explore because it ties into the larger conversation.

According to Orszag, the topic has become an important one economically and he presents arguments that give some more insight. Orszag hints at the improvements in quality we have seen that are unreflected in actual calculations of productivity. He also writes about the lag between discovering new technologies and seeing their results.

WEST, DARRELL M. “MOBILE TECHNOLOGY.” Going Mobile: How Wireless Technology Is Reshaping Our Lives, Brookings Institution Press, 2015, pp. 1–15. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt7zsvqt.4.

In the opening chapter of West’s book he shows how as a result of technology, the education sector has changed. He suggests that technology has led to a richer social environment for education and cites the use of applications like Facebook as educational tools.

While West does not touch heavily on productivity, he raises points on how we think about the benefits of mobile technology on the lives of students. He writes about how for example a project in Taiwan showed short messaging services to be a more instrumental tool in vocabulary mastery than reading textbooks. This offers an alternative perspective to the skills that using mobile technology equip us with and could come into my research as a different way of looking at the impact of social media and mobile technology.

Personal Essay

I argue that one of the most important stories of my life has been getting to go to schools in three different countries, Nigeria, South Africa, and the US. I have seen first hand the different attitudes to technology and remain grateful for the opportunity to, particularly in relation to the impact that technology has on productivity.

My last school in Nigeria, Corona Secondary School took pride in the title of Africa’s first e-learning school. One would imagine that meant everything we did had technology at its heart. That, however, was very distant from the truth. The school ran from Grade Seven to Grade Twelve but we were only allowed to bring our laptops to the school in Grade Ten. I guess it was a way to ensure that we were well grounded and mature enough to deal with the different challenges that come with productivity when technology comes into the question. In addition to only being allowed laptops at a certain time, we also had to deal with submitting our laptops every evening. We were barely, if ever, allowed to use our laptops in classes and when exams came around, the hours we got our laptops were even more limited than normal. Phones were also not allowed on campus and technology was thought of as a distraction. When we had our devices, the authorities believed we were less productive and if we are being honest, they probably were.

When I moved on to school in South Africa, it was a different attitude. Most of my professors permitted our use of computers in class, however, that may have come as a result of the fact that the African Leadership Academy, is dominantly American run and the fact that those in power understood that would be the norm in college. It was during my time at ALA I believe I became more conscious about my phone habits and how much of an effect it had on my productivity. During particularly tough weeks, I recall going dark and disconnecting from the outside world. I struggled with getting work done many nights in the library and thought establishing some distance from technology put me in a better place to succeed.

Today, in college, I understand myself a bit more and tend to disconnect during the hectic weeks I expect to have a lot of school work, however, the external voices who once stepped in and said you must limit your use of technology are inexistent.

Of recent, Apple has introduced a new feature known as screen time and I find that I’ve become more concerned about how I’m using my time. In the past, I knew I was spending more time than I should on certain apps or on my phone altogether but I never thought of it as a problem. With the new introduction, however, I am becoming more conscious about the use of technology in my everyday life. Since the introduction of the feature, I have set time limits on how long I use each app and certain categories of apps. I have also seen that Instagram has introduced a similar feature that allows users to track how long they’ve spent on the app daily and also reminders to get off the app. Research suggests that the recent introduction of both features is part of efforts by Apple and Instagram to give users the power to better understand their usage of devices and also assist parents in monitoring the use of technology by their children. This point of view is heavily backed by the fact that on connected Apple devices, for example, parents will now be capable of setting these limits.

Looking back on high school in Nigeria, I am indeed grateful for the early introduction to technology as something that could negatively impact productivity. I believe having the concept reiterated constantly looked silly then because we felt we could handle ourselves, however, after many nights where I’ve scrolled through Instagram behaving like I have nothing important to do, I understand why those actions were taken. My only wish is that a different approach was taken. Living in a country where rules are arbitrarily placed and never really explained despite inquiry doesn’t help particularly with getting young people to understand and buy in. Instead, we all looked at it as something we were fighting against and often found loopholes and ways around the rules. Today, I continue to look for ways to assist in detaching myself from social media and technology in all. I’ve taken to studying without technological aids as I find that I remember much more when I write things down for example.

I am curious about whether my peers feel the impact of their use of technology is as negative as I find mine to be. I believe by looking at others, I can better determine if I am the problem or if this is something a generation struggles with and also learn some of the ways around that they’ve employed to guarantee their productivity. With the increasingly smarter technology we have these days, I’m also wondering how long it’ll be before there are less user triggered means of limiting our use of applications. For example, will we ever get to a point where there is technology we use that can determine whether some application is detrimental or advantageous?

Extra Credit 1: First Man Advanced Screening

On the 2nd of October 2018, I attended an advance screening of to-be-released drama and history movie, First Man. The screening begun at 7.30pm and held in White Hall Room 205 with about 100 people in attendance. The film which looks at the life of Neil Armstrong and the sacrifices made on the journey to becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969 had a run time of about 130 minutes. 

It was an interesting encounter for me considering it was my first ever advanced screening. I found the experience to be closely tied into our class and today’s technology because throughout the advertising of the screening via emails and even before we walked into the room it was being screened from, we were reminded that phones and other recording devices could not be used in the theatre. I think this relates closely with technology because it just shows how easily a well thought out roll out plan could perhaps be sabotaged by a video on a social network or something of the sort and that explained the stance taken on no technology during the screening.

The advance screening of First Man was an important experience for me because it showed me a different way to look at some of the material I’ve interacted with in another Media Studies class over the past few weeks.

Project Proposal

Apple’s latest iOS update, iOS 12 featured many new introductions, however, in the days since its release, I’ve been particularly intrigued by the introduction of screen time, a feature allowing users determine how long they’re spending on their phone as a whole as well as different applications. It builds on what we’d previously seen under the battery section and plays on the widely feared idea of spending too much time on social media. Since its release, like some of my friends, I’ve made a conscious effort to tone down how much I spend on certain apps and largely reflect on my behaviors. Throughout the semester, I’ll like to go further and explore the impact that technology has on student productivity. I hope to look into methods that have been employed at curbing overdependence on social media and technology by people in my communities and the hindrance at successfully detaching from social networks.

Self Assessment

Working on the website for me has been interesting. Over the past few years, I’ve managed a website hosted on WordPress so I’ve managed to get an understanding of the interface and just how it works. Where I was a bit nervous going in was actually setting it up from scratch and making it look a certain way because past experiences have not been as successful as I would have liked.

I hope to use the website as a portfolio going forward so I chose to go with a theme that I thought looked professional and also added my photography and video work. As a member of my generation I spend a lot of the time surfing the internet and I’m particularly disturbed by websites that are too busy. This informed the decision to search for minimalist themes preferably in white because I feel it offers a cleaner look.

Eventually, I might turn it into a blog where I share some of my thoughts on issues I am passionate about and at that point, I will consider changing the theme.

Image credit: Orbit