Room 20

Here are a few words from Room 20, where one of many residents living out a typical Residence Hall life experience at UWI, St. Augustine.

Ten Things You Should Know Before You Move Onto A Residence Hall (Part Two: The Final Five) — April 4, 2015

Ten Things You Should Know Before You Move Onto A Residence Hall (Part Two: The Final Five)

6. Bullying doesn’t go away after high school.

Neither do cliques. Or peer pressure.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that you’re not in high school now. You are no longer a confused little caterpillar struggling to make your cocoon as warm and comforting as possible, hoping you survive the transformational teenage years. Your cocoon is broken and you’ve emerged, a beautiful butterfly, with more composure and assuredness than you ever had before. You’re a university student now. Whether or not you know exactly what you want in life or you are still figuring it out, you’ve made a commitment to work towards excellence in your life. You may not know exactly your goal or even exactly the steps it will take to get there but you’re moving forward. It’s an exciting time in your life and you have the power to make your own choices (pending your/your parents’ budgeting). You have the power to say no.

Here’s the thing about bullies in university: you can laugh at them.

They’ll try to intimidate you in uncountable subtle and not-so-subtle ways, try to win your favour, try to threaten you into compliance but you can’t be bought, can you? You are a beautiful butterfly governed by your own free wings – I mean, will! And your/your parents’ budget.

7. Adapt or die.

That being said, it’s important to know that adaptation is key to survival in the real world. In adult life. In university life. And definitely in residence life. It’s a fine line, but you’ve got to learn to walk between rolling with the punches and not giving in to things you aren’t comfortable with.

Your high school studying habits may have worked wonders for you through your younger years. A structured schedule, a clean, tidy work environment, a well-stocked kitchen and a helpful teacher’s speedy reply just a “send” button away via e-mail, these are all luxuries to the average resident. Class schedules are ideally stable and consistent but in my experience, have a habit of cancellations, make-ups and re-scheduling that doesn’t exactly create the ideal regular student cycle days. The library spot you claimed and have diligently occupied since the beginning of the semester may suddenly become re-colonized around midterms or finals time when hundreds of delinquents suddenly discover the library. You may have made some poor financial decisions and have nothing but ramen to eat for the next week. Your roommate may suddenly come down with a two-month case of PMS during a particularly stressful patch of the year. You’re going to have to make use of those young, flexible muscles you build your body and mind out of and make the best out of what you have.

8. Class time is negotiable.

When you live on a residence hall, the notion of “8AM class” easily becomes the more rationalized idea of “okay, the lecturer will spend about ten minutes setting up and getting warmed up, about twenty minutes recapping, about ten minutes yapping and I guess that leaves me until 8:40AM until I realllllllllllly need to be there”.

Getting into the habit of staying in bed until 7:55 when you have an 8 o’ clock class is a terrible thing but so pervasive a phenomenon on hall that it borders on cliche. Sitting at the entrance of your hall with a group, remarking on the class that you have which started twenty minutes ago isn’t all that uncommon either. There’s just something about living almost in the classroom that makes residents “forget” that they aren’t actually in the classroom.

Do your best not to fall into this trap by managing your time beforehand to get enough sleep and leave enough time for getting ready and small talk if you must have it before you leave for class.

9. R.A.’s don’t know everything.

.They’re young, but not as young as you are. They have that put-together look of someone with all the savoir-faire you wish you had and only hope to possess when you get to that age. It’s easy to let your mind trick you into thinking you have a cool new older brother or sister to look to for advice and to answer all of the questions bubbling up in your mind as you try to navigate your way through the first taste of university and residence life.

Here’s the thing though: while they are in fact, older and more experienced than you are, for the most part, they’re just as confused as you and just know how to hide it better. The university experience is specially designed to have everyone constantly in a state of dynamic development. If you’re not confused at least 50% of the time, you’re not challenging yourself enough. Resident advisers are no different. They carry the authority of their position with quiet disquiet and silent hope that no one true crises take place for them to deal with. They will offer you their advice and the benefit of their experience in matters of academia and adjusting to residence life but remember that everyone’s experience is different. Your R.A.’s will (ideally) be indispensable wealths of knowledge but they won’t be God. They won’t know everything. Their solutions to their problems might not be your solutions to your problems.

10. Appreciate your home and family.

If you are the typical pre-resident life student, you are coming from a warm home clad with love and a fully-stocked kitchen, a structural support system and the least amount of worries you’ll have for a while. Enjoy the comfort of having your parents close by for consultation and advice. Indulge in the luxury of home-cooked food, or at least food you don’t necessarily have to pay for yourself. Appreciate that taking the step to residence life is going to take you on a journey of isolation, uncertainty, cultural mixing, blending, belonging, existing and living. Life among your contemporaries will be great and you should approach every day with an expectation that your mind will be blown in some way or another. But for the moment, you’re allowed to feel the pinch of nostalgia as you look around your bedroom, think back on all the childhood memories you’ll be leaving behind enclosed in these physical walls and cringe when you think of the new ones that your family will be creating while you’re away. Life is sweet now, but you’re off to bigger and better things.

Peace, love and adventure!

M.

Ten Things You Should Know Before You Move Onto A Residence Hall (Part One: The First Five) — April 1, 2015

Ten Things You Should Know Before You Move Onto A Residence Hall (Part One: The First Five)

1. Roommates are people.

Let’s start with something easy. A point so easy, it often slips past the consciousness of the unsuspecting bright-eyed and bushy-tailed fresh resident. Your roommate is not going to be a non-entity or a mould that fits to your convenience. There will be things that will astound and appall you. Your roommate is going to annoy you at times, regardless of how adorable and un-annoying they initially seem. You musical tastes will diverge. Your hygiene tastes may also diverge. The point I’m trying to make is that you should not expect sharing your living space to be a walk in the park.

People are messy, unpredictable, and inconvenient. Given the right combination of variables, they can also be fabulous additions to your life whom you are glad to accept wholeheartedly with their quirks and inconveniences. Oftentimes, taking the time to get to know them will reveal something mind-blowingly cool that you’ll be grateful to have in your life. A cooking hobby, for example. Indispensable. You hit the jackpot if this is your roommate. Immediately befriend.

 

2. Be very cautious with your expectations of privacy.

Residence halls (particularly mine) are known for being uncomfortably close quarters for upwards of a hundred residents. Walls are often thin and traffic is usually relentless. Your conversations behind your locked door should take these factors into account. Skyping home, phoning your friends, or having your significant other visit for some quality time, remember to try to keep it down. Be considerate of those around you – they might be listening in on your conversations but often, it’s not like they have a choice. Consider also that residence hall culture is likely to have knocks on your door for some reason or other all the time, and when you get settled in enough, it’s not uncommon for friends who live close by to follow their knock with poking their head through your door to check if you’re there. If you know you are the type that won’t be comfortable with such, chances are, you’ll quickly learn to subdue  your “inside voice” and keep your door locked.

 

3. Learn to share.

Groan. Sharing. The pre-school skill none of us ever quite master but all of us are called to practise at some point or another in our adult lives.

Residence life regards sharing with a certain reverence that is hard to describe to those unfamiliar with the phenomenon. Class notes, academic resources, Netflix accounts, video games, food, culture, clothes, food, music, shoes, rides, jewellery, food and did I mention food? I’ve been woken up with a knock at my door and a curt “come for your breakfast” at eight in the morning with no request or expectation of breakfast before.

Residence life puts students in a unique opportunity where a level of cultural exhibition and exchange is possible, where the bonds of sisterhood and brotherhood knit communities together over clothes and music and games and stories. If by the end of the year, your floor mates can barely remember whose kitchen wares originally belonged to whom and whose language has rubbed off the most, you’re doing residence life very, very right.

4. Act like a child and you’ll be treated as a child.

Most younglings on their first entry into residence life are getting their first taste of adulthood. It’s understandable. We’ll all be a bit excited, a bit indulgent, we may stumble and trip over our new-found independence but the shared living experience of residence life demands a certain level of maturity in conducting your affairs.

You’ll learn very quickly that the simple things your mom (ideally) would have taught you: to say good morning, wash your dishes when you’re done with them, make your bed, comb your hair, will go a long way in factoring into how persons view you and your maturity level as an individual. When you fail to do some of these simple things like keeping yourself tidy or washing up, others around you may perceive you as childish and act accordingly towards you.

5. If you are going to absolutely need WiFi, you should probably make other arrangements.

Especially on my residence hall. Definitely have a backup plan. Campus WiFi isn’t exactly known for its reliability in the first place and some rooms (mine) in some residence halls (mine) may not even get a strong enough signal during the day for functional Internet usage.

Scout your university, which should (ideally) have numerous computer labs – try your faculty or department computer labs, the Student Activity Centre, some residence halls even have separate computer labs for this reason and find a space you’re comfortable working in. It’s also a good idea to find a space off-campus but still closeby to be used as a plan ‘C’ for when campus WiFi is defunct.

 

 

 

Roommate Wars: The Food, the Trash and the Ugly. — March 31, 2015

Roommate Wars: The Food, the Trash and the Ugly.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m probably not the best roommate.

I’ll be the second to admit that I’m probably not the second or third-best either.

If you made a list of everyone at UWI, in order of good-roommate-ness, I would probably not even cut the top hundred.

My roommate and I

Here is the thing, though.

My roommate is probably just as bad as I am.

We chose each other. We deserve each other. We hate each other. We love each other. We are very complex individuals. We started off with the idea that we would formulate our agreements regarding the running of our shared environment before our arrival on hall, however, mid-negotiation, my roommate decided that she would rather work things out in the moment as they come, which, I, personally, blame for why we tend to more often than not, live in a state of disarray.

Consequently, we are both seldom actually physically in room 20 because we’re both disgusted by it. I will also admit that she tidies more often than I do. I also maintain that she is simply never present in that sliver of time between me tidying and me needing to find a particular item where my side of the room is clean.

Interesting background story about the “my side of the room” bit:

When I first arrived on Trinity Hall, D. was not my roommate. My roommate was a very tidy, very taciturn and very academic engineer named N. She lived on the side of the room furthest from the door and closest to the window. The following academic year when I returned and she didn’t, being the “grass is greener on the other side” type of person that I am, I commandeered that side of the room before the arrival of my roommate-to-be, D. I made my bed, I put my things where I needed them to be, I occupied the closet and desk space – I marked my territory, essentially. Considering my work done, I left room 20 for a reunion with dearly missed friends whom I had not been able to see for the three months of break.

When I returned later that night, opened the door to room 20 and stepped inside, the string of expletives which flew through my mind was too quick to verbalize in the moment but the individual constituents of that string made their way into verbalization over the course of the next twenty or so minutes. She had moved my bed, replaced it with her bed and added her things to my side of the room. This would not do. This is not how it was supposed to work. The configuration of this room was not something I was aware was up for debate. I lifted her mattress, tossed it aside and dragged her bed-frame back to where it belonged. I replaced her mattress. I went about re-configuring my belongings on my side of the room. She, and two mutual friends gaped at my insanity.

To this day, I cannot get her to stay on her own bed.
(But it’s okay, I use it as an excuse to sleep on hers sometimes. When it is tidy which is seldom is.)

Of late, our food situation has been getting a bit ridiculous, as evidenced below:

she ate the bread 11156776_10206427813563763_1414666247_n

Every UWI student knows that weekends are for going home and having your parents/guardians/benevolent aunties and grannies replenish your food supplies. Not so in room 20. I stopped going home on weekends a long time ago and D’s major and extra-curricular interests rarely allow her such weekend luxuries.

As such, our food situation at times gets ugly. The following, for example is what I prepared in a passive-aggressive attempt to make my roommate jealous after she asked me while I was sick if to also make me something for breakfast/lunch (brunch?), then couldn’t find a pot, then decided to only make herself something.

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Spaghetti, vegetable sauce and coconut breaded shrimp

Because I was sick, I could only manage to eat about two bites. She ate the rest of it.

It is a daily struggle to live with me and no easy feat to be my roommate. I applaud you, you Egg.

Yes, it is also a struggle to live with you, as you use my dishes and don’t wash them, sleep on my bed when I ask you not to and eat my stale bread destined for greater things but it’s all worth it to have you, your grandmother’s cooking, access to your wardrobe, and the single greatest perk of living with you: an invaluable improvement to my eyeliner game.

I love you, Egg.

Peace, love, and roommate acceptance,
M.

P.S. it’s your responsibility to take out the trash, now could you please do it? That includes the recycling.

Residence Hall Benefits – Roadblocks? What Roadblocks? — March 23, 2015

Residence Hall Benefits – Roadblocks? What Roadblocks?

This morning’s shocking demonstration of Trinidad and Tobago’s Police Force’s grit and determination when it comes to fighting white collar crime manifested itself in the only way it possibly could in the twin-island paradise: self-interest. After reports that there were stoppages to traffic at almost every major point on the nation’s roadways to the point where there was traffic in Tobago – how could there be traffic in Tobago? – I felt that I must probe the situation further for dissonance in my immediate surroundings. Imagine my surprise to find that on my residence hall, residents, even and especially locals were pleased.

I hesitate to use such a word as ‘pleased’ in such a controversial context. I do not presume to be able to accurately gauge the emotional state of anyone, least of all, myself. However, the smug grins of residents reclining on lounge chairs, at their ease in the lobby, citing traffic as the reason they will not be going to class today, told quite the story. Distressed final year students appeared as if they were smiling for the first time in years when they contrived dramatic excuses for missed midterm deadlines today, naming the streets at which they spent an hour, not moving, when they surely did not leave their residence hall for the day.

These observations drew my attention, once again, to the fact that residence hall students experience university life in a completely different, and arguably, insular environment from those who commute or live close by.

Outlined above is one such example, where, when unaffected by abject circumstances, residence hall students will continue to benefit from the collective compensatory action, such as cancelled classes, extended deadlines and lecturers’ (some) sympathies. Major cultural events manage to diffuse their way onto the campus, where residents may choose to either involve themselves or not, such as Carnival, Divali celebrations and others. Major campus events usually have, as their primary catchment of participants, residence halls, where special invitations are typically issued to events such as:

  • Faculty Weeks, as representatives are known to personally walk the halls and issue invitations;
  • HSU’s many initiatives such as the Walk/Run Against Domestic Violence and De-Stress with Tai-Chi, Zumba and Meditation;
  • The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Guild of Students Election which hosts forums on each residence hall in the week leading up to elections but only one general forum open to all students at the Student Activity Centre.

With a record like that, it’s no wonder voter turnout is so low and residents make it a point to don their hall apparel, arrive together and are expected to vote according to their slate. They are specifically targeted by candidates who regard the support of the halls as invaluable to their campaigns because of their numbers and the surety of their turnout. The marginalization of the general student body can be further emphasized by anecdotal evidence sampled all around the campus expressing a lack of confidence in the Guild; ignorance of Guild events, mainly populated by hall residents and marketed with the futility of gaining the participation of non-residents by lazy public relations officers; and even the damning lack of awareness of the election itself.

To a residence hall student, however, the Guild is working for them. They receive the first tip-off when activities are planned and coordinated such as Operation Hot Chocolate (disclaimer: this is not organised by the Guild, however, the tip will often be traced back to the Guild); the first offers for group discounts, tickets and shuttles to parties, clubs and fetes; and the first offers for on-campus employment.

The perks of being a hall resident span far beyond the sense of belonging to the University community, the time saved commuting, the money saved renting off-campus, the solidarity with your fellow residents and even the opportunity to mix culture with persons from other lands, far and wide. It involves a certain calculated capitalization on local events and current circumstances, an opportunistic outlook and a willingness to profit from simply being in the right place at the right time.

All it costs is roughly $15,000 per academic year.

Politricks and Intimidation — March 11, 2015

Politricks and Intimidation

Don’t you just love the smell of politics in the morning?

Neither do I.

With the Guild elections going on and my involvement on a number of campaigns, I thought it best to distance myself from the politics happening on my residence hall.

Others had alternative plans.

As I sat, arguably, in the wrong place at the wrong time, several different persons governed by several different motives approached me regarding several different positions on the Hall Committee. To cut a long story short, I trusted maybe two out of the many and doubted the motives of all. But as the argument was laid before me, my Hall needed me and I embarked on an ambitious, albeit doomed election campaign for myself.

Sticky notes and propaganda everywhere.

I gave it everything I had, and here is what I learned from the experience.

How to Lose an Election on a Residence Hall

  1. Run on a platform of inclusiveness and equality. Where a status quo is well-respected, true believers and newcomers alike like to see it upheld, regardless of ideals of fairness, justice and representation.
  2. Run an entirely clean campaign. Never plant questions in forums, never conspire with candidates running for other positions and never take shots at your opponent.
  3. Tell the truth. At all times, always give those listening to you all the facts of the matter at hand. Do not tell them what they want to hear and do not lie in order to gain popularity points.
  4. Spend time speaking with the members of the electorate, particularly those with concerns regarding the actual issues on the platform upon which you base yourself. Answer questions thoughtfully and take notes to remind yourself of the ideas, suggestions and concerns brought forward to you over the grueling course of the election period.
  5. Always maintain a standard of class, professionalism and preparedness. Never make yourself into an entertainer in order to gain favour with your electorate. You are in the running for an elected position, you are not a clown.
  6. Never suppress criticisms or even the voicing of questionable actions of your opponent – it will be viewed as politicking and drag your stance of professionalism downward.
  7. Never remain committed and steadfast in your belief in the principles you started on – bend in order to win the election.
  8. Never use glitter on your campaign material. 

image source: Joy Christi at Comfy Town Chronicles.

Okay, now that we have those sour grapes out of the way, I’d like to say that the intimidation and desperation tactics brought out during this election has exposed me to a truly discouraging side of residence life that I wish I could report didn’t exist. Optimism, however, eventually runs out when in the presence of several scores of 20-somethings, all with dominance to establish and something to prove.

Repeated assertions that these elections must be staged, slates being worked on tirelessly by persons not even contesting a position and hushed late-night summons to private chambers protected by “the code” all came out during this high-tension period where secrets were revealed, friendships were betrayed, loyalties were endlessly needled to breaking point and the calm after the storm was truly something to behold. An eerie stillness in time where it felt that the building itself was waiting for an exhale, to get the previous rhythm back in order. Or a scream.

Tears, strained silences, clipped greetings and smiles that never quite reach the eyes are quickly becoming the norm on my residence hall. And I want the old rhythm back.

Backpage? — March 1, 2015

Backpage?

25.02.15, A Conversation Occurs:
A longtime friend of mine and fresh hermit contacts me,

“Backpage lime this weekend. Friday. Spread the word please.”

I had heard half-whispers of some plans but I was surprised to receive word on such an event at such short notice, two days before the event. Curious, I asked if the event details were finalised.

“Yup. Girls are $5. Men $20.”

My face immediately contorts into a disdainful expression. I had lived on my residence hall for about a year and never had heard of such a concept as women being charged for admission into one of the infamous Backpage limes. I shook my head.

“No way I’m paying $5.00 to lime on Backpage”, I expressed to one of my friends who was directly linked to the hosting group. Firstly, I lime in the vicinity on a weekend far too often to be expected to suddenly pay for the company and music the likes of which I participate in very regularly, no costs attached. Secondly, it was unheard of in recountable history to charge admission to the females who had decided to grace Backpage with their presence. Thirdly, it was a matter of principle to me, not money.

“You could just come with me and pass through,” my friend replied.

I rolled my eyes in response.

As I said, it was a matter of principle, not penny pinching. I didn’t want to be paid for or snuck in.

What you have to understand in order for my stance to make sense is that the concept of Backpage lime in the past has never been profit. It’s always been a bid to invite the company of the ladies, perhaps even some fresh faces and acquaint the gentlemen with certain opportunities.

To speak plainly, the men are typically trying to get sex.

I did not feel inclined to pay for the opportunity of being evaluated as a possible conquest for any young man.

27. 02. 15

10:30PM

After a series of interesting events: a last-minute invitation to the closing dinner of Social Sciences’ faculty week, a commotion caused by some inflamed resident shouting down to someone from the middle floor, a couple awkward conversations to be had because that resident was me…

I ended up going anyway.

I needed a cool out. I was looking forward to the party, forgetting the stress of social lives and residence life politics, staged elections and strange interactions with certain long-standing and respected senior residents. I arrived in a group of about 8 fellow residents. We had some misgivings about whether we should be going in, there was a certain unsettled feeling among the girls, stemming from feelings of being watched, shady figures on the roof of the building directly opposite our residency and a general disquiet among residents.

28. 02. 15

12.30AM

We entered Backpage. There was a total turnout of exactly three, other than us, present.

The party starts up slowly and eventually peters out shortly before sunrise.

.

.

.

Later, I hear grapevine reports of other girls being shamed for trying to make men pay not only admission for them but also their friends.

If you aren’t willing to pay your admission, why turn it into a power struggle though?, I think to myself. Just stay home.

But, of course, as happens in many girl groups, there existed a need to establish and demonstrate power lines and hierarchy. Shame and sullied reputations ensue. One resident falls from grace and social acceptance from her chosen group.

It isn’t me, so I do very little in response and keep my thoughts to myself.

The last thing you want on a residence hall is to start a girl war.

Peace, love and happy compliance,

M.

Discovery by Displacement – Finding My Roots — February 28, 2015

Discovery by Displacement – Finding My Roots

Before my arrival on my residence hall, I had never felt particularly connected to my ancestral background. My family had been a part of the loose-leaf Indian diaspora and I grew up listening to the music, eating and preparing the food, living and participating in the customs and rituals but never truly identifying any of this as mine.

My arrival on Hall, however, placed the mark of ownership on Indian culture squarely on my shoulders as friends and acquaintances from other islands and areas in the world quickly indexed me in their minds as their quick reference encyclopaedia for all things Indian.

“You were cultured into this, yes?” asked a St. Lucian, admiring my first attempts at a mehndi stain on my palms.

I thought about the question, acknowledging that while it was the first time I had personally tried to apply the artwork myself or have it on my person at all, I had, in fact, been cultured into mehndi. I did, after all, spend my early life around those who routinely practised the artwork, design and application as well as told the stories associated with the patterns and stain intensity.

As I stumbled through an explanation to the best of my ability of the meanings of those intricate patterns I decided to stain on my palms, I was, for perhaps the first time, acutely aware of the culture that was at the same time separating me and drawing me closer to my friends of different backgrounds. I related, to the best of my knowledge, the folk wisdom of the intensity of the mehndi stain reflecting that of your husband’s love and the symbolic meanings of fertility and beauty ascribed to the floral buds decorating my body, never before having imagined that I would one day be the one to teach this to someone else. My children, maybe someday, but I had somehow assumed that in the cosmopolitan melting pot that is Trinidad and Tobago, there would always be someone around more qualified than me for the purposes of such explanations and contextualizations. After all, I didn’t even identify as Hindu and far preferred the title of “Trinbagonian” to that of “Indian”.

I considered myself more West Indian than East Indian, and according to my parents, my speech, dress and musical preferences showed it.

It was at this point of self-discovery that my inner Indian kicked into overdrive. As more members of my Hall requested I reproduce some similar artwork on their own body, frequently asking if it would “work on black people”, I found myself being urged more and more to share what (little) I knew.

I was a Caribbean girl caught in an avalanche of cultural diffusion. This was the result:

A cultural mix, featuring India!

Photo credit: Keyon Mitchell

Photo Credit: Keyon Mitchell

Many of the young women pictured above had never donned traditional Indian wear before or had much familiarity with the food, clothing or customs of my normalized lifestyle.

One by one, the elements came together until clothing were sourced for all who desired it, and the sweets and savouries were prepared almost entirely on Hall by those with a vested interest in learning these aspects of the culture.

It was later, on reflection, that I found the conclusion that my identity didn’t embrace the title “Indian” because I was born with it. Rather, my West Indian soul stretched to accommodate my East Indian body and all the questions it would be asked by persons who expect me to know the answers simply because I should. And they’re right. I should know. I should share. I should be.

My identity is chosen but it should never have chosen to ignore or take for granted the curry leaf too ingrained in my tastebuds for me to realise there are others who have never heard of it or the bindi, now an ornamental splash of colour for someone who has seen it all their life, but with a rich history and ceremonial significance.

It took me a trip to the U.S. to find my Trini accent last year, and it took me a move out of my house to find my family heritage this year.

Peace, love and happy self-discovery,

M.

P.S.: In case you were curious about the Importance of Mehndi in Indian Culture.

Social Media Fast — February 27, 2015

Social Media Fast

Day One, 1.25AM

I’ve been asleep from roughly 10PM to 1AM. I hear the ping of my WhatsApp notification and reach for my phone, unlocking it before remembering.

The stupid assignment.

I grudgingly flip my mobile data off and turn my attention to my computer. A television marathon ensues for the following three and a half hours. At 3.45AM I am tempted to open Facebook. I type the URL into my browser and stare stonily at the login page. Michelle from a few hours ago knew of temptation well and made certain to log me out of my social networks before the fast had begun.

I take the opportunity for introspection as I study the login page of the Social Networking site. The truth bites. I discover that I am in fact lonely. My residence hall is dead silent. I want to peruse the list of online friends at close to four in the morning and feel a little less lonely by simply recognizing that there are others out there, awake, just like me.

I return to my television marathon.

Day Two, 9.50AM

I am sitting in the JFK Lecture Theatre, with my laptop in front of me, open to somewhat dated slides, attempting to follow along with my lecturer and his indecipherable accent. My eyes and mind wander restlessly. I squint at my lecturer’s face intensely, at first trying to focus more closely on the sounds he makes, perhaps to put some measure of meaning to them. After some moments pass, I realise I am only using him as white noise while my thoughts continue to meander down mountains of personal relationships.

My mind itches for a fix of information.

Facebook.

Just a touch, and I’m there, logging in like no one’s business. Relief flows through my consciousness with a surprising poignancy. I notice that my father has messaged me not ten minutes ago. I congratulate myself on having such a strong telepathic connection to the man who gave me life, despite our typical antagonistic relationship, so many miles away and roll my eyes at the waxing poetry in my thoughts.

What a few hours off of social media does to my otherwise completely unromanticised narrative in order to make myself feel better about  my complete lack of willpower.

I converse with my father briefly, being reminded that it is my mother’s birthday and being needled about when next I will visit him convinces me that I’ve cheated enough on this social media fast. I make a hasty exit from Facebook and return to focusing intently on my lecturer’s face.

Day Three: 8:10PM

If ever there was any doubt that a social media break would seriously damage a budding relationship, it was confirmed: it wouldn’t. At least, in my case, it served the exact opposite function. Interest was confirmed with the workarounds to land on more time spent in each other’s physical company rather than on a playground of vague text-based flirtation and emoji and where there was expected to be a frosty halt precipitated by lack of contact, a startling friction was generated by extremely close contact.

Sparks fly.

I appreciate this assignment much more now.

My phone chimes as it inexplicably connects automatically to WiFi despite me being almost sure I had turned WiFi off entirely. I expect that it is my WhatsApp group for work, wondering why I’m not at the Student Activity Center, covering an event, as I should be. I disconnect manually, determined to remain devoted to living clean of social media in tribute to my newfound appreciation for this assigned constant-connectivity-free lifestyle.

The fact that I just gave myself a loosely supported night off (for school!) doesn’t hurt.

Altogether, I found the assignment to be enlightening, with scarily introspective moments, intriguing findings contrary to expectations and laughable justifications that my mind cooks up in order to satisfy my junkie brain’s needs.

I am extremely happy to get this blogging assignment out of the way as well, so that I may focus my blog on what I had originally intended to write about: my residence hall life at university!

I’m quite excited to make my first post to that effect and as such, you might expect to see my next post right here by tomorrow night!

Peace, love and happy Facebooking,

M.

 

Resources on Social Media Addiction: Statistics and Trends
Effects of Social Media Use and Addiction on Relationship Satisfaction