Students without social media share alternatives for connectedness

Abby Hopkins

Although social media encourages connectivity, some students choose to limit their use of these platforms.

Between short-term breaks from social media and longer refrains, students who choose to stay off these platforms are searching for alternatives to maintain relationships.

For marketing sophomore Kyle Brastrom, his fraternity and a recent video from YouTube channel “Yes Theory” inspired a 30-day social media cleanse. Brastrom said he wants to substitute time on social media with old hobbies, such as video editing, reading and strengthening friendships.

“The biggest goal for me is to replace the time I was using on social media with things that actually provide me with genuine human connection as well as improve me as a person,” Brastrom said. 

Giving up social media completely is a challenge for college students who prioritize a social life, Brastrom said. Instead of removing it forever, Brastrom said he wants to learn how to prioritize productive activities, so when he gets back on, he still makes time for what he values.

“You can’t just remove social media, because you’re only going to replace it with other vices,” Brastrom said. “If you want to be successful with any kind of cleanse, you have to go in with the intention of swapping the time you’re putting there (and) filling that with something useful.”

Advertising sophomore Chase Broadfoot said he doesn’t use social media, because he values the deep relationships he is able to form through face-to-face interactions. 

“One thing that’s big about social media to me is this big difference between image versus reality,” Broadfoot said. “If I have people that I know on social media, sometimes I feel like through their social media they portray this different persona than who they actually are.”

Aerospace engineering senior Andrew Forey doesn’t use social media other than a Snapchat account to participate in student groups. He said social media fosters an urge to be self-centered and would be a hindrance to his faith. 

“You can get caught up in comparing people’s lives and really caring about how you promote yourself to the world,” Forey said. “It’s a very individualistic approach.”

While many campus organizations use social media platforms to send announcements and plan events, Forey said he relies on word of mouth and has never missed anything important. The biggest challenge for him is staying up-to-date with world news and culture, he said. 

Keri Stephens, associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies, said complete detoxes from social media can leave students missing out on unique relationships and opportunities. 

“I don’t know that it’s an all-or-nothing kind of an approach,” Stephens said. “Being aware of how much you’re using it is probably the most productive kind of approach.” 

Stephens said a practical way for students to develop healthier relationships with social media is to try putting their phone in another room for an hour, then increase the amount of time with each try. 

“I’m not sure that just looking on your screen and telling you how much screen time you had for the day or the week is going to change your behavior,” Stephens said. “I think people have to want to do it, and I think people have to practice it, play with it and see what works for them.”