Unfortunately, my week before finals was rather hectic having multiple class projects, a paper, and a few other assignments due before Friday. While I wasn’t able to focus much time on the binge portion of this assignment, I do feel that I have an interesting perspective on media bingeing. For much of my high school and college career, I have struggled to avoid social media and YouTube when I need to work on something important. I will close whatever window has some distraction open and I will say that I am going to start my homework. Not 30 seconds later, I have opened some new distraction. I would say that I am a procrastinator but I feel it’s more severe than that. It’s gotten to the point where I am actually considering seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist. Internet Addiction is a real disorder and I think I may have it, or at least some form of it.
This semester has been a non-stop media binge. I will often find myself opening several YouTube videos in separate tabs and watching them all, one-by-one for hours on end. I do this all while scrolling through Facebook and Twitter on my second monitor and/or holding conversations with my friends via text on my phone. The reason I think my perspective is interesting is because I am so used to this behavior. My eyes don’t get tired from screen time and I don’t feel like a sloth (However, I do when I look back and examine my behavior). Beyond that, it would be nearly impossible for me to actually binge relative to my normal media intake.
Throughout high school and my first semester of college, I somehow managed to maintain high grades. However, this semester, I wasn’t able to continue that. My media bingeing probably contributed to this. I would spend a majority of my time after classes checking up on social media until late at night. Often I wouldn’t begin my homework until 11:00 or 12:00 in the morning so I would stay up quite late working on it. Other times, I would procrastinate until I fell asleep, but I would make sure I set an alarm to wake up early and finish whatever I had to do. This cycle didn’t use to be this late at night. In high school, I wouldn’t start my homework until 9:00 or 10:00 and I would get to bed by midnight. However, over time, the cycle shifted later and later at night. I’m worried I will continue to let it shift to the point where I am not even doing homework. I have no idea why I can’t control myself but I do have confidence that if I see a specialist, I can learn more about my problem and figure out a way to combat it.
Again, I wasn’t able to devote the entire three days to this portion because I needed my laptop for various projects. However, I had to spend nearly all my time on the projects so I wasn’t able to spend time on social media or YouTube anyway. I did manage to fast for a day and a half and, looking back, I really wish I would have been able to devote the whole time to it because I made some incredibly interesting discoveries. After turning in my last assignment for the semester, I went back to my room and began my fast. I turned off my phone and didn’t open my laptop. I sat doing nothing for about 60 seconds. Then I saw all of the things I needed to pack up before I went home so I started doing that. Before long, I had to leave to go to a banquet with my curling team. We ate and played board games for a few hours. It was pretty easy to avoid digital media here because I had something by which to be distracted. When it was over, I went back to my dorm.
Knowing how little I could trust myself, I walked upstairs to a friend’s room. She knew I was on a media fast so she didn’t question why I showed up unannounced. I helped her pack for an hour or so. Her roommate, my other friend, asked us if we wanted to watch Bob’s Burgers in the other room. My first friend forgot about my fast and started heading out, but I reminded her and she stayed with me. She pulled out her colored pencils and we drew for a little bit. She lazily drew a picture of me, purposely drawn poorly. As I was bored, I spent some time trying to make her drawing look less like a child drew it. It didn’t work. We got bored with that and we just started talking. The discussion became very deep. We talked about life and the butterfly effect and how every little thing affects something else. I told her how if Hitler hadn’t done his horrible deeds, my Grandparents would not have met and I wouldn’t be here. We also talked about my problem with media addiction and what I could do to overcome it. The discussion became rather meta when I pointed out how insanely beneficial the media fast was and how I was able to think (and think deeply) about so many things. The media just distracts me from using my brain to its fullest potential. It was quite interesting to make this realization as it gave me more of a reason to look in to my media bingeing problem. I went to bed at around three in the morning.
I slept until 1:00 which was nice because I hadn’t gotten much sleep in previous nights. I spent basically the whole day organizing, packing, and cleaning my room. Previously, I didn’t foresee myself getting any of that done until after my final exams. So it’s definitely quite nice to be ahead of schedule there. Halfway through packing, I, without thinking, put on some Pandora to listen to while packing. I didn’t realize until much later what I had done. I guess my brain didn’t consider music to be digital media. I’m kind of disappointed in myself because I wonder what I would have thought about while packing instead of singing along to the music. I finished packing and went up to my friends room to see if she wanted to eat supper. We ate with her friends and I came back to my dorm. I spent the rest of tonight looking over my chemistry notes and writing this reflection. I got so bored with chemistry at one point. Knowing I couldn’t use my computer, I leaned back in my chair and looked at the ceiling for what felt like 5 minutes. I almost fell asleep but I caught myself and kept looking (or staring blankly) at my notes. I used the time to figure out what things I need to brush up on tomorrow when I can use the internet again.
Overall, I managed to avoid digital media for most of the fast. It felt really good to accomplish this and I want to try doing it more often. Maybe finding a way to have a “Media Sabbath” would be a possible approach to solving my media bingeing problem. I was surprised at how enlightening the experience was. I was expecting to learn some things about myself but certainly not to the degree that I did. Not being able to use my phone forced me to have conversations I would not have otherwise and I realized the merit behind the idea that young people are too absorbed in their phones that they won’t even acknowledge the world around them. I highly recommend everyone try a media fast at least once in their life (if not every month). I learned a lot and I am now more motivated to talk to a professional about my daily media binge.