I clearly remember the day of December 14, 2012. I was halfway through my sophomore year of high school and everyone was stressing over the impending week of exams and getting excited for winter break. After lunch that day, my friends and I stood by the office waiting for the bell to ring for our next class. The office of my high school has huge glass windows on all sides of it so you can see everything inside. There was a TV on in the center of the room. I hadn't ever noticed that TV before. The students around me kept chattering and laughing, but my friend Emma and I noticed the CNN headline that was splashed across the TV. From what I could tell, some guy went to an elementary school and started shooting. I thought about my brother who was sitting in his fourth grade classroom at that moment and I got really scared. The idea that someone could be so deranged and cruel to kill innocent children sickened me. However, I had no clue that the day of the Sandy Hook shooting would be a pivotal day in the mentality of our nation. It was simply a tragic event that I happened to hear about by glancing at a TV.
Fast forward three years to the first week of December 2015. Mass shootings are a regular occurrence in the US and I have to look no further than the headline of BuzzFeed to find out about the most recent tragedy. The media binge/fast for our class just happened to occur at the same time as the San Bernardino shooting, and my lack of use of media at the time made me really stop and think about how I receive my information and how I search for news.
The media binge was surprisingly easy. I did not realize that my Spotify saturated walks to class and my mindless scrolling through Tumblr are basic parts of my day that keep me constantly connected to media. I was much more affected by the fast. Of course, I was unable to completely cut myself off from all media since that's impossible, but I made a concerted effort to reduce my time online. My productivity in class increased slightly during the fast, but not enough that I would consider continuing the fast. My focus during the fast seemed to be on my lingering feeling of boredom and isolation. On Wednesday December 2nd, the San Bernardino attack occurred and I did not learn about it as immediately as I typically would.
The feeling of being out of the loop was new to me. To be entirely honest, I found out about the attack by cheating my fast and checking BuzzFeed. However, the story was already pretty developed and people were in deep mourning. By jumping into the story late, I realized that I take instant knowledge completely for granted.
I don't necessarily seek out the news (although I probably should as a JOMC student). I let the news come to me. That is an extremely new concept in the world. Up until the existence of Internet, I would've needed to have actively bought and read a newspaper or turned on my TV or radio. Those forms of news are only updated once a day and can't be mindlessly checked whenever I have a disposable moment. Also, people buy newspapers specifically to read the news. I just stumble upon current events in my search for a new YouTube video or quiz.
I realize that this is not an effective way to learn about the events of my community and my world. The media fast made me realize my apathy toward the incredibly fast and thorough news media we are privileged enough to have. The out-of-the-loop feeling I had as I learned about the San Bernardino attacks after most people was my wake up call to appreciate the work of the media a bit more. This does not mean I will spend more time on the Internet, but I now realize how to better use the resources that I have taken for granted.
The world and the media have transformed since the day of the Sandy Hook shooting. I can't help but wonder if the ability to make an instant impression on a nation through media has influenced any of these awful criminals. Since we are now so used to the news just appearing for us, perpetrators can essentially send messages to the whole world without saying a word. The media will deliver their motives and actions right to our screens. It's a strange phenomenon that without our media, we feel uninformed even if we are not going on to the Internet specifically to look at news. Perhaps it makes us more worldly that we have no choice but to be aware of the events of our society, but our knowledge will not change anything unless we actively listen to and participate in the mediated world.