At some time of your university life, there will be the awful, looming sensation of a deadline creeping closer. Procrastination often comes in the form of unnecessary laundry runs, spring-cleaning in the summer and organising your CDs in alphabetical order: anything to get away from the deadline that is hovering on the horizon. In today’s world, there is a new danger, and it comes in the form of infamous white writing on a blue background: Facebook.
The social networking site is both mind- bogglingly genius and soul-crushingly addictive. It serves to connect you with your friends and family around the world for free, whilst leaving you constantly plugged in to the lives of people you don’t really know or care about. While I don’t make a habit of adding total strangers, I do have people on my Facebook I would pass by in the street, but on Facebook I can see their photos, wall posts, location updates and even phone numbers.
But the worst thing about it is that it is constantly there. It’s hard to switch off. It’s like a parallel universe co-existing with real life. And because of that, I sit glued to my Facebook page, waiting for a couple to break up or an equally lost soul to ‘like’ the status I posted six hours previously.
Whilst Facebook is excellent for stopping you from watching Loose Women on a lazy afternoon, it’s your worst enemy when you’re actually trying to do something productive, e.g. that important coursework that’s due in next week. The “quick look” always turns in to ten minutes worth of stalking. But worst thing is that it is no longer just on computers – it’s on our phones too. If there’s any activity on my page, my iPhone instantly sends me a notification. Resisting the urge to look is like trying not to sneeze: you’re inevitably going to snot everywhere and see what somebody has said about that drunken photo of you.
Everything that we do nowadays is linked with Facebook. If something interesting happens to us, we put it on Facebook. Our friends do the same and because of this, trying to do anything productive whilst being logged in is like trying to write a dissertation whilst sitting in a large room with all your friends talking over one another. It’s practically impossible.
Although Mark Zuckerberg’s monster is by far the biggest danger to my degree, it is not the only demon. Twitter is also to blame. It’s a bit like diet-Facebook – it doesn’t allow me to plunge into people’s photos and private lives as much, but it does bombard me with updates from musicians, journalists and celebrities. I find myself using Twitter as a break from Facebook, and that really is bad.
What’s more, it’s not even that easy to get off Facebook. It allows you to ‘deactivate’ your account without actually deleting it, meaning that all you have to do to get it back is log in with the same credentials.
So what’s the solution? My advice to you is to change your password to something long and unmemorable, write it down, seal it in an envelope and give it to a trustworthy friend to look after until your work is done. And be strong – the panic attacks will subside after a while.