May we have your attention please

Our Hoofprint Opinion editor deleted her social media for two weeks in order to test their effects on her attention span. Below are the results.


Cathy Li, Copy editor-in-chief and Opinion editor

Day 1

I’m sad to say that I fit the stereotype of the phone-addicted teenager way too much. It seems I can’t just exist anymore. Whenever there’s the slightest lull in my life, I feel the urge to immediately start scrolling Instagram reels. I don’t exactly know why; maybe this semi-mandated break from social media will help me find out!

Day 7

The first thing I realized is just how inconvenient it is to not have social media. Even during this testing period, I had to (shamefully) log on to the web version of Instagram for a club or respond to a friend’s message. After these practical things, I found it ever so tempting to click a button and resume the gloriously mindless scrolling. 

Day 14

Even after two weeks, I still find myself picking up my phone to open an app that’s no longer there. The resulting realization that it’s just me and my thoughts was quite terrifying in the beginning, but I became more okay with it as time went on. I wouldn’t say this experience has dramatically altered the course of my life, but it was nice to take a break from the fuzziness that normally accompanies too much time on social media.

Final Reflections

At the end of the day, I’m not sure if the purported increase in my attention span is just a placebo effect. My screen time did decrease and I was able to read more books, but that could just be the additional time I got by deleting social media. 

In terms of intangible benefits, I did feel a certain freedom after a while. Social media, especially short-form content, is so addictive that I often felt compelled to open it and scroll through, sometimes for hours on end. Though I enjoyed the cute cats and cooking videos, courtesy of the all-mighty algorithm, I also misused it as a way to procrastinate. Deleting these apps forced me to stop this avoidance and start using my time in other ways, perhaps the reason why I felt my attention span increased. 

 I will be reinstalling my social media apps because they’re an important tool I use to communicate, but I’ll also be more intentional in the future of setting my phone aside in favor of something non-digital.