About a week ago, our class was asked to participate in a Media Fast and Media Binge. This seemed intriguing to me because I have never partaken in anything like this before to the extreme. I thought this would be easy for me since I’d like to consider myself a minimalist pertaining to media but this proposition made me think again. It was an interesting and extremely necessary cleansing for me to (attempt) to success at.
The media fast was fairly overwhelming. I was texting and snapping people that I don’t usually do just to engage in more conversation therefore increasing my usage. These efforts lead to greater connection to my phone, constantly checking my homescreen to see new messages and notifications from people. Although some conversations were short lived, the effort brought me close and closer to my phone. I checked Snapchat a lot more than I already do (which is a lot), tried tweeting more but decided against it so I continued scrolling through my homepage more frequently than before. I texted and FaceTimed with people I’ve needed to over the past months of not having an iPhone. I engaged more time in the pointless apps I have (like Tinder and Twitter), using the explore bar in Instagram that I never really use but found that helpful in binging.
In regards to using my computer (when I’m home) I looked at Facebook twice as much as usual and it made me almost confirm my dislike for it since it’s beyond pointless. I also saw most things twice from Twitter and Instagram since people post a picture on multiple media sites. Additionally, I tried to engage myself in reading news, Buzzfeed, and other “news” related sites and witnessed the overlaps again. Sometimes I checked Twitter and Instagram on my computer during the day along with my phone to strengthen my usage. I felt that my binging was very successful and it heightened my need for a break.
The fast was a lot harder than I expected. I was experiencing withdrawal from constantly checking my phone prior, which created a lot of temptation. The first day was the easiest because I was so sick of media that I completely cut off all connections to my phone. I only used it as an alarm for the morning, I turned off my WiFi/data during the day which prevented me from getting notifications for almost all of my apps. I didn’t bring my phone to class with me, which lead to engaging in more conversations with people. I take the bus to and from classes so I tried to talk to more people but most people sitting next to me were on their phones the whole time, which made it difficult. Regardless, it made me even more appreciative of how beautiful our campus is and the world in general because I observed my surroundings more even though I usually do that all the time. Coachella was this weekend so it helped me stay away from media considering that almost all of my friends went. There’s only so many crop tops and indie pictures I can handle…
The transition from binging to fasting was easy at first. However, the final day was really tricky because it felt like months I haven’t been on my phone even though it was only 48 hours. I wanted to check my Snapchat the most because that’s how feel in touch with my friends and it was extremely hard to continue to stay away from it. My withdrawal took over because I gave in the last day since I felt like I had a great deal of FOMO when in reality I only missed a few texts and snaps. This made me realize how many people I talk to via phone and how underwhelming my life is at times. It feels like people always want and need to talk to you even more when you give up using your phone especially when you don’t tell them. It’s as if people knew that so they would want to talk to you more but that wasn’t the case. It was actually depressing to me and it made me frustrated I gave into self-inflicted pressure.
Thinking about the binge and fast made me realize that media is beneficial, in moderation. Excessively checking your phone tunes you out of the real world because you’re so tuned into your own world. Although media seems inevitable, challenging yourself on binges and fasts like these puts your self-control to the test. It made me realize that sometimes it's not all that it's made out to be. Normally I try to stay off my phone when I can but after this experience I will put more of an effort to engage in human interactions. This was greatly needed although I was somewhat defeated because I gave in, it’s something people in today’s world have grown such strong connections to and need to challenge themselves to taking breaks from media. I have developed some bad habits pertaining to excessively checking but I’m trying to minimize them and it seems to be working.