A luddite campus? How turning off social media could impact college students

By Mikayla Silcox

Elm Staff Writer

What if the one thing that we think can cure our boredom is actually causing it? How many times today have you instinctively taken out your phone and pulled up Instagram?

A group of Brooklyn teens recognized issues stemming from over-dependence on smartphones and decided to rebel against their own generation.

According to The New York Times, they call themselves the Luddite Club. They are trading their smartphones for flip phones and gathering for weekly meetings, freeing themselves from technology. Would Washington College students be able to take on this challenge or have our lives grown too intertwined with stories and streaks to relinquish control?

As college students, ditching technology altogether is not feasible; we need technology to complete academic work and do our jobs. However, if students were looking to walk in the Luddite Club’s footsteps, the first one would be to abandon social media.

Many modern social connections are dependent on using social media to cultivate community. According to Statista, 4.59 billion people worldwide used social networking to connect with others in 2022.

While the interconnectedness that social media provides allows students to learn about events, express their feelings, and develop relationships with their peers, some suggest that it also causes anxiety, stress, and heightened feelings of unworthiness.

“We certainly found that, among the people we interviewed today, they talked about how they felt new and growing pressure to express, celebrate, and brand themselves,” scholar Susan J. Matt, who studies how technology shapes self-perception, said.

For some students it may feel impossible to plan their lives without being in the know. If they decided to give up social media, students would have to rely on three alternative forms of contact: email, phone calls, and word of mouth.

According to The New York Times, young people are increasingly averse to communicating through email as opposed to texting. To make for a more user-friendly experience, students could find workarounds for their email, separating their inboxes by tasks, subjects, or users to stay updated outside of social media.

Using the real world to formulate plans is a seemingly impossible task, but the Luddite Club proved that it can be done. Your future best friend could be five minutes away from sliding into your Instagram DMs, but they could also be right next to you in a line at the dining hall. 

Additionally, there is potential for academic and personal improvement when you put your phone down.

According to the 2021 study “Effect of social media use on learning, social interactions, and sleep duration among university students,” social media inhibits learning, distracting students and cutting sleep schedules short. By putting aside social media and using a timer app, students can give themselves the space they need to truly learn.

Removing phones from the equation can also help students grow their creativity.

“We report that people who think in more creative ways tend to not actively engage in social media and are generally less addicted to their smartphones,” psychologists Joshua Upshaw, Whitney Davis, and Darya Zabelina said in their study, “Translational Issues in Psychological Science.”

By quitting social media, students would have increased time for other activities, like painting, writing, and performing. While the Internet allows for creativity, finding outlets for self expression outside of the validation provided by likes and comments is important to the artistic process.

There would not be time to wallow in self-pity on YikYak, with users bouncing off detrimental posts to one another. Instead, people could be content with the present and could find new ways to entertain themselves.

For many, the Luddite Club’s actions probably seem daunting. While the impact of putting down your phone is yet to be seen on WC’s campus, these teenagers and their impact show that there is a whole new reality that lies just beyond the edge of an iPhone.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Photo Caption: According to a 2016 study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there is a significant correlation between social media use by teenagers and depressive episodes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *