The media fast and binge assignment was one of the first things that caught my eye near the beginning of the semester when I was skimming through the syllabus. My initial thoughts about the idea of binging and fasting were primarily concerned with the assignment being given over the week leading up to finals, but this actually turned out as a benefit rather than a burden. Over the course of the past week through experiencing the highs and lows of media indulgence, I was able to draw a number of conclusions about myself and about society as a whole.
One of the first things I noticed as the start of the assignment drew nearer was my hesitant attitude towards beginning the binge and my eager anticipation to start the fast. Experiencing two extremes really forced me to evaluate how I actually feel about the media I indulge in as well as the frequency. Personally, I am a big fan of Instagram and Snapchat, primarily so that I can see pictures and updates of my newborn nephew every hour, but also to have access to quick snippets of other peoples’ lives. Facebook and twitter rank lower on my scale of interest but I still check these occasionally. One thing I recognized through my transition from binging to fasting was the fact that I have a want and a need for media to some extent, but I absolutely hate that I have convinced myself I couldn’t live without it. I became very uncomfortable with how much I truly depend on media outlets to make me feel organized, informed, and able to function.
While the media can be and is used as an incredible resource for so many things, I had never realized how exhausting it is. During the media binge I found myself not only feeling more tired physically, but mentally. Constantly looking into a screen and scrolling through feeds inevitably leads to worn out eyes and headaches, but even more so my mind felt bogged down after filling it with media all day. I noticed that my attention was not only being grasped by the different media outlets I chose to binge on, but by any and every advertisement associated with it. For every media outlet I was consumed by, my mind was also flooded by 2-3 other tangent ideas or links.
On a day-to-day basis I use my cell phone to give me reminders, write down notes, look up friends’ birthdays, calculate my accounting homework, and take pictures. While media does have a number of negative effects on society, it has so much potential to be beneficial in many areas. I found that being active in my media use helped me to feel much more at ease about the future, but more scattered and stressed about the present. When I had full access to Facebook or my notes section or my calendar I could plan and have information about much more than I would be able to without those things, but I had less ability to be present in the now and accomplish the days tasks without being distracted or scatter brained. On the other hand, without my media outlets I felt much more calm and productive in each individual day, but more worried and unprepared about my future.
Throughout the week I thought it would be interesting to take my pulse on different days and analyze the correlation between media involvement and heart rate. Of course, there may have been a number of other factors that affected this, but I did my best to be consistent each time I recorded it. On Monday, when I began my media binge, I recorded the highest heart rate, on Wednesday at the end of my media binge and beginning of my media fast it decreases by 4 beats per minute, and on Friday, near the end of my media fast, it decreased another 2 beats per minute. These results, along with the other observations I made throughout the week, have brought me to the conclusion that media is not a bad thing in and of itself and it certainly does not have to be, but it is absolutely something that must be monitored. It has an overwhelming presence in our world today and in order to avoid letting my life be overcome my media indulgence I have to make an intentional decision each day to find balance between binging and fasting.