Experiment: Go Without Social Media for One Week

Can your family go for a week without social networking activities? In my family we go nuts when our Earthlink DSL goes down, which happens for a few minutes at least once each evening, let along not getting to use some of the most valuable web-based tools for a week.

Harrisburg University, a small college in Pennsylvania asked students and faculty to go without YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and more for one week, not to punish the college community, but to examine why they use these resources and why people need them. The university community is asking questions such as “What part the social networking tools play life and business?” and “What would happen if social networking were not around?”

According to a National Public Radio story, broadcast today (September 18, 2010) on Weekend Edition Saturday, the week-long activity also included invitations to area business leaders and members of the community to meet on campus and discuss the same issues. Read the CNN technology blog story. An ABC news story includes a video interview (Hummm… can this be counted as using social media during the ban?) with Provost Eric Darr, who estimates the percentage of students who upheld the ban and the percentage who felt compelled to go and find other ways to use various social media sites. He also explains that the school’s follow-up activities will include a discussion about why some students felt compelled to cheat by walking to Starbucks or using their smartphones.

Harrisburg University is a private, non-profit institution, founded in 2001 as a school to provide academic training in science, technology, and math. According to its website, “… an independent, self-perpetuating Board of Trustees governs the institution” and includes a wide range of Pennsylvania business leaders. Learn more about Harrisburg University, the only institution of its kind between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The school’s website features a story announcing the end of the “great Harrisburg firewall” experiment.

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