Central to our Influence Project is the examination of how we can use social media to influence others. But another important part of the project is to look at how we're influenced by social media. And that's exactly what Pennsylvania's Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is studying starting today. NPR reports that the university is implementing a week-long ban of social media for all students, which means no Facebook, no tweeting, no checking in on Foursquare. The entire campus will be going cold turkey.
The school hopes its student body will be able to reflect on how social media has impacted our lives. "Often there are behaviors, habits, ways we use technology that we may ourselves not even be able to articulate because we're not aware of them," explained provost Eric Darr, who will have students write essays on their experiences. "If someone feels the need to borrow their friend’s phone to go check Facebook, it’ll be interesting to ask the question at the end of the week: Why did you feel the need to do that? What compelled you to do that?"
The campus-wide blackout won't affect all communications. Harrisburg's students will keep their access to e-mail. Still, that has stopped students from having trouble completing the academic exercise. Several who spoke to NRP have already found the experience challenging.
Has social media become so core and so influential in our lives that we can't live without it? Would you Twitter and Facebook junkies out there be able to kick the habit for a week?