Off the Grid: My relationship with social media


Though the Blackboard and the Common App sites may be up, my go-to sites are Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Yena Seo

My first profile picture was of a cat donning a party hat.

Whoever allowed my 12-year-old self to create a Facebook was clearly out of their mind—then again, I was the one who lied about my age in order to make one.

The creation of my Facebook profile in 2010 was just the first of many social media profiles to come. Freshman year came the creation of my Tumblr, with sophomore year came Twitter and with junior year came Instagram. Getting my first iPhone the summer before senior year didn’t help my social media addiction, either—every hour, I end up checking my phone or the computer at least five to six times.

My addiction to social media and communication via the Internet started in my late elementary school years, however. I signed up for my first Yahoo! Mail account in the fourth grade, and instantly became hooked. Remember those chain emails that you had to send to at least 15 people or you wouldn’t get a boyfriend for the rest of your life, or you would be brutally murdered while you were in the shower? I sent those without any hesitation, not willing to take that risk.

Social media allows me to stay in the loop about almost everything, from my base school friends’ college admittance statuses to my daily homework assignments to how my relatives in Korea are doing. It also allows me to get updates from The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Associated Press within seconds of an event, and keeps me entertained through hilarious six-second Vine clips, Words With Friends and Candy Crush Saga.

I’m stuck in a love-hate relationship with my Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram accounts. Doing my homework takes so much longer, with 30-minute assignments dragging on for hours. Let’s be honest, who wants to work on college essays when new, beautiful base school Homecoming pictures are being posted every day? Social media is like my own personal abusive boyfriend that won’t let me go, because every time I try closing Google Chrome to just do my homework, my phone will vibrate with a million different texts and notifications. And don’t even think about turning off the phone completely, because you’ll wind up with a ridiculous number of texts, emails and Facebook messages, and your friends start freaking out when you don’t respond to their messages after a while.

When I was approached with the idea of going 24 hours without any kind of electronic communication—no texting, no email, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, no Tumblr, no phone calls—I freaked out. While it seems like a short period of time, I receive around 20-30 Facebook messages daily, and being the Secretary-General of the Model United Nations club really does not help at all. And don’t forget about emails from colleges—what if my dream school decides to email me about my scheduled personal interview during my dark hours? How am I supposed to text my parents when to pick me up from school? What am I supposed to do when slacking off on college essays?

As the fateful day approaches (Oct. 23), I’m pretty excited. I’ll be documenting this experience, with blog posts prior to D-day, and will be writing more updates during the actual day on paper as my fellow tjTODAY editors post them online. Will the social media editor of the school newspaper be able to go 24 hours completely in the dark, or will she panic and fall? Who knows?

But fasten your seatbelts, because you’re in for a bumpy ride.