Forgoing Facebook? Taking a timeout from Twitter? The prospect of a social media sabbatical may seem unthinkable to some millennials.
But on the fourth floor of Moffitt Library on Monday morning, a throng of students were lined up to surrender their smartphones — voluntarily — for a social media blackout.
A collaboration between the REST Zones Project and the Office of the Academic Affairs Vice President, the Blackout Challenge encourages students to fork over their phones in exchange for prizes, depending on how long they participate. One hour will get you a sleep mask. Two hours, and you’ll get a stuffed bear. Three hours will earn you a pillow. And if you last four hours, you’ll get a blanket. While supplies last, of course.
“We hope to enhance the productivity of students during Dead Week,” said Genevieve Slosberg, an intern for the Office of the AAVP, who was working the event Monday morning. “We also hope to be a part of creating a culture where social media is not as prevalent.”
How do UC Berkeley students feel about giving up social media?
“It’s probably going to make me study more,” said Cameron Chee, a sophomore majoring in chemistry.
“I cannot last longer than three hours,” said Anna Mazur, who is studying Environmental Economics and Policy, citing a review session she was attending later.
Some students were in it for the long haul. Joseph Sahyoun, a grad student studying mechanical engineering, said he was aiming to participate for the full four hours — at least.
“I support it,” he said of the effort to unplug from social media. Plus, he said, “I love sleep gear.”
Turnout Monday morning was “extremely high,” Slosberg said. About 25 minutes in, 30 people had surrendered their phones — a rate of more than one phone per minute.
How did so many students find out about the event?
“Facebook,” said Chee, echoing other students’ replies. “Which is kind of ironic.”
The Blackout Challenge started at 10 a.m. at Moffitt Library and lasts until 10 p.m.