Paying Attention & Participating beyond Social Media

Paying Attention & Participating Beyond Social Media


To successfully and adequately capture through daily vlogging reflection and blog posts how ‘signing off’ or how being ‘signed off’  from social media networking sites (SNS) such as Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram strongly affect a persons’ attention and participatory structures, along with the effects it has our wants, needs, and interpretations of people, persons, and things. All of which will be justified and supported through research of willing individuals and attestable written resources. The end-result will be presented in the form of a digital diary blog hosted on a separated WordPress site which will be linked to my e-portfolio site under the child page *Signed off  Digital Diary**


Throughout the semester we have covered a wide range of topics but in all of them we always seemed to return the topic of availability. We question time and time again that in this day in age is it possible to be unavailable? And what does it actually mean to be unavailable in a world where not being able to reach someone is a sign of tardiness and carelessness. A key component to understanding this project will be understanding that unavailability in this aspect means to not to be connected to an SNS—as in being signed off or disconnected. For all purposes these terms in this project are interchangeable.

To return to focus, when thinking of this project idea I drew upon three main topics that are of interest:

  1. Availability
  2. Attention structures
  3. Participation

After focusing in on these three topics the realization came that they each play a part in tackling the question of, “How does signing off completely from a social networking site affect us?” First of all, availability is by far one of the biggest affordances and constraints of the internet. SNS’s have allowed us to constantly be in touch. We can tag, track, and see when we’ve read each other’s messages. All of these affordances have in a way lead us to always be online even when we aren’t. Being available online means you are expected to participate in conversation both personal and global oriented.

As an individual of an online community you have the responsibility to share, comment and create and if you do not you are therefore doing that community a disservice. Your participation is always needed and wanted on both your and your audiences’ end. This want and need to participate ultimately allows us to choose whether we are or are not available.  It also means that you are aware of what is going on around you and you are in a way forced to take part or else you are “creeping”. Being available has also had an impact in the way we divide our attention. What we focus on and how we focus on these things ultimately affects our participation and our availability. These three concepts all interact and interfere with our ability to actually disconnect and become unavailable in a world that demands availability.


This project proposes an experiment in which I will purposely disconnect or sign off myself from all social media networking sites (such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr) which I participate in for two weeks.

In those two weeks I will vlog, blog, and capture photographs daily about how I am dealing with not being available or signed into these SNS. Since a large portion of the project will be reflections I plan to capture this by doing daily blogs that give detailed descriptions as to how I am dealing with the disconnect.

In tracking this I want to highlight the shift in myself and the transition from an avid online user to someone who has become “signed off”, “disconnected”, or “unavailable”:

  1. Test subject will research how other people have dealt with taking breaks from social networking sites ( 7 Important Reasons to Unplug and Find Space Get Off The Internet: A Challenge to Reconnect With Yourself ).
  2. By conducting research that almost entirely embarks on the premise of availability and the affordances and constraints it entails, student will try to also highlight the psychological effects this disconnect has upon an individual such as anxiety, worry, detachment etc. Also with the hopes that this project demonstrates that availability has changed our wants, needs, and interpretations of people, persons, and things. (Facebook effects on social distress: Priming with online social networking thoughts can alter the perceived distress due to social exclusion, When Your Smartphone Is Too Smart for Your Own Good: How Social Media Alters Human Relationships)
  3. Lastly, in this project the student wishes to prove that there is a way by which we can become unavailable in a world that desires for everyone to constantly be signed in and involved. (Measuring Emotional Contagion in Social Media, Generation Z: Technology and Social Interest)


As the nature of this project is to produce multimodal aspects I hope to:

  1. Capture daily videos reflection that track my changes in behavior (participation & attention), needs, wants, interpretations, and emotions.
  2. Photographs that highlight how I spend my time in being ‘unavailable’. Which will be accompanied with short captions/posts as to explain the thoughts and noticed changes. **all which will include hyperlinks to sources that either support or argue against points** 
  3. PowerPoint presentation at the end of experiment to showcase learnt experiences, changes, and understandings of how unavailability effects more than what we think it does.
  4. In its entirety, answer what I have found the answer to be for the question: “What does it mean to be signed off?”


In order for this project to be achieve as much success as possible:

  1. Student will only be signed off from SNS such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat, and Instagram.
  2. Student will still be allowed to read email, text, and news both print and web, but only relating to worldly events.
  3. Student is not allowed to engage in trending social media videos, memes, treads, or profiles by either search engine or from shared sources.
  4. It is to be understood that even in the event that it arises in a verbal conversation student can only inquire through that conversation and not engage in outside research.
  5. Student is to be completely signed off and apps are to be deleted from any or all smart devices.
  6. Student is not allowed to check or engage in activity on other users smart devices.

Projected Timeline:

Initial starting date- November 20th

  • First two weeks from Nov20th – Dec4th – document and capture the ‘signed off’ time period. Keep detailed records in reflections that will allow myself to compile an archive as to which draw information from completed diary blog.
  • After initial steps are taken, next step will be to begin the editing process as to allow enough time to properly capture essence of project. Adding outside sources that confute or support theories presented.
  • By week 4 (December 6th-12th) the final editing stages will begin. As well as the creation of final project progress post, project reflection as well as project presentation.
  • December 14th – Finalize Presentation for in class presentation.

Research Materials:

  1. What Does Profile Unavailable Mean on Facebook?
  2. 7 Important Reasons to Unplug and Find Space
  3. Get Off The Internet: A Challenge to Reconnect With Yourself
  4. Facebook effects on social distress: Priming with online social networking thoughts can alter the perceived distress due to social exclusion
  5. When Your Smartphone Is Too Smart for Your Own Good: How Social Media Alters Human Relationships
  6. Measuring Emotional Contagion in Social Media
  7. Generation Z: Technology and Social Interest

Resources to be Used:

WordPress, OpenLab, PowerPoint, iMovie, Vsco,