[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t was a fateful Monday morning, only the third day of reading break — a week notorious for giving in to all your procrastination temptations — when I pressed the “uninstall” button. “Are you sure you want to delete Chitter?” prompted my phone screen, giving me one last opportunity to stop myself. I thought it over one last time, but only for a second, before I sighed, pressed “yes,” and watched the light blue ribbon twirl away, erasing the squirrel from my phone.
So what was it that finally drove me to uninstall the app that had proven so reliable in all those awkward moments — sitting alone during a lull in lecture or waiting in the doctor’s office?
I have to applaud the makers of Chitter: their app is the holy grail of technological diversions for college students. Chitter provides selective anonymity — perfect not only for those who need to vent or ask for advice in a safe environment, but also those who want to make their responses publicly known — peer validation, a sense of connection with the SFU student body, a never-ending stream of novelty, and even a chance at romantic connection (hello, ‘Chinder’).
And while some may scoff at the idea of a social media app actually creating real-life connections, it seems Chitter has been at least somewhat successful in actually doing so. The ‘Chitter fam’ denotes the new friendship between over a hundred diverse individuals from SFU thanks to the application; and yes, it has even brought together new couples. Additionally, the majority of the posts and comments I myself read on the app were incredibly positive and encouraging.
What led me to uninstall this brilliantly-executed app wasn’t what it couldn’t do, but rather what it was doing too much of. Chitter was simply too addictive, too effective at passing time, too thorough in its aim.
Chitter is the holy grail of technological diversions for college students.
The app quickly integrated itself into my nighttime routine. Right as it seemed that I was ready to call it a night, I’d tap on the little blue box and, before I’d know it, I’d have squirreled away (pun intended) over half an hour just scrolling through the feed. The never-ending posts, comments, and memes were like a stream of consciousness that hinted at no time boundaries or feelings of satiation. Save for a few original or thought-provoking outliers, each post was as mildly entertaining as the last, allowing me to take in one after another without any need to leave the screen for a pause.
And then I picked up the disturbing habit of scrolling through Chitter as I watched television.
It was only a few short years ago all my elders were warning me about the brain-to-goo transformation that watching too much television would have on me. And now I had started craving even more distraction just to follow the plot of a television show, conveniently provided by the neat, blue squirrel. I found myself on the edge of a whole new level of reduced attention span.
What made me reject Chitter as a consumer was clearly not dissatisfaction with the product itself. The app is beautifully designed to capture the hearts, imaginations, funny bones, and tiny attention spans of our student body. Rather, what made me uninstall Chitter was me shying away from this new level of technological immersion.
For today at least, I think I’ll force myself to pay attention to a television plot, thirty minutes at a time, and risk rejection as I let someone know I like them without any protective shroud of anonymity.