I hate to be one of those people who goes on a semester away and then continues to talk about it for the next half of their time on Earth, but my time away has awakened me to a realization. It seems that the increasingly prevalent the ways in which we procrastinate are built with worst intentions in mind. Social media and streaming services are hindering our relationship with time, more specifically our attention spans and abilities to stop procrastinating. Here is why. 

I went away for the semester and my livelihood—my phone—was snatched away from me on a mini-bus so lovingly called, Turtle. Before the High Mountain Institute I had a difficult relationship with my phone and technology, which is to say, I was online constantly. This was before the days of thinking about if or not there was some Maia Learning survey or supplemental essay I had to fill out, when still most of my time out of school was spent… on my phone. It was just so easy. Too easy. Maybe, that day I had spent a lot of time with friends so I needed some alone time to unwind. How? Usually by watching TikToks or whatever TV series I was into at the time.

Instant social gratification was at the palm of my hands without even trying. I did not have to actually do anything to be social or be entertained. This lifestyle was slowly numbing the way I thought about entertainment. When I would take a break from my schoolwork, that break consisted of going on my phone or watching a few more minutes of a show. To read the book I was reading or to go outside for a walk would have been just as strenuous in my brain as having kept on working. This phenomenon was a major contributor to my increasing procrastination. 

The nature of social media has made it so that, before you can even think to stop scrolling, there is new content for you to view. You could procrastinate with a book, sure, but eventually, reading will end, and unless you are reading Thomas Piketty’s, Capital in the 21st Century, that end will probably come soon. Walks can lead you back to where you started, and a cup of coffee or tea have a bottom, but TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and really all social media, is a never-ending pit of content whose function is to keep you scrolling. It is an exhausting idea. The only way to stop such an addiction is self-discipline and telling yourself you will refrain from going on them. Then of course, like me, you can also stop by signing yourself up for five months of wilderness therapy available to you with a short trip to Leadville, Colorado.This struggle is not an individual one. A recent poll of 93 current CA students found that 74.3 percent of students with social media were self-described student procrastinators, as opposed to 27.3 percent of students without social media—noting that over eighty percent of respondents reported having some kind of social media. In English teacher Nick Hiebert’s Thoreau and Kindreds class, students read Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, which discusses romanticism’s value in the natural world. The natural world creates a different sense of procrastination than modern day procrastination because, while “procrastination” through nature effectively de-stresses the body, constant media input only results in one feeling more drained.