Friday, April 29, 2016

Media Binge and Fast

It's that point in the semester where my brain is numb, my sleep is low, and no amount of caffeine can help.

Luckily for me, our media binge and fast was assigned just in time. When the notion was first announced, I will admit I scoffed at the idea. I am an Advertising and PR major as well as Marketing (aka Social Media) Officer for my sorority and can't simply stop using technology for three days.

But I did try. For the first three days (the binge), I dove into my major head first. I looked up social media strategies, past research, and articles about the newest algorithms in Instagram.

I felt incredibly plugged in during these three days and full of the "latest" knowledge. Everyone knows that one guy who is always saying things like, "Well I was reading this article today and (insert some cool new information here)" but for those three days I was "that guy," and it felt good. But while I felt very connected to the world at large, I was completely disconnected from my friends and those closest to me.

I live in a sorority alongside 66 other women and am usually one to socialize at any chance I get. But I challenged myself to walk away from meaningful conversations and to instead turn to media - whether that be posting on Tri Delta's Instagram, watching Netflix (I started "How To Get Away With Murder and would recommend it), or writing for my own blog.

After these three days I attempted to switch to the media fast.

I attempted to ignore as much media as I could (outside of Marketing Officer duties and school work) and tried to pretend I could not be connected with the social media world in a click of the button.

Although I was not able to fully commit to the fast, I did notice differences in my life, specifically three key realizations.

1. Without media, I felt less frantic and busy. Sure I still had the same amount of work and homework, but without that need to be "checking in" on social media and others lives, or even responding as fast as I can to text messages, I was able to focus solely on what I really needed to get done.

2. I found time to take naps. This probably seems random and small, but since I was able to focus on work, I was able to finish more things and actually let myself unwind and take a little snooze in the middle of the day. I felt more accomplished and was able to reward myself with a short nap.

3. I asked people how they were doing more. Without seeing their latest tweets, posts, or pictures, I actually had no idea what they were up to or how they were. It gave me a chance to truly ask how they were doing without assuming whatever they had tweeted that day is how they are.

Like most things, I think media and social media need to have a happy balance in our life. There were obvious perks and downfalls to both the fast and binge, but my biggest take away was the time media takes out of my life. My social media feeds give me a feeling of always being busy, but busy with the wrong news.

In order to find that happy balance, we need to focus on how media can be beneficial. Less focus on Kim Kardashian's Instagram and more on matters of equality, integrity, and ethics.

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