This past week I engulfed myself in two opposite ways of life. I went through a media binge and a media fast. These are, in fact, ways of life. In my perspective, it is living in an “iCloud” world versus living in the real world.
The media binge was my least part of the week. It involved being connected to the worldwide web 24/7. I had my phone in my hand at all times, several tabs up on my laptop, and my eyes were glued to a glowing screen. I was locked in on the T.V. at the dining halls, keeping current with the news flashing across the screen, and I was disconnected to my surroundings. I found myself not being able to do my homework very well because I had a very divided attention.
According to http://incident-prevention.com/ip-articles/multitasking-vs-switch-tasking-what-s-the-difference there is a difference between multi-tasking and switch-tasking. Switch-tasking is the act of switching back and forth between two things. Your mind can not focus on multiple things at once, but it can go back and forth. The back and forth action, though, causes loss of focus and it extends the amount of time to do the action a much greater length. Several sources declare multi-tasking a myth and say it is really just switch-tasking, but this article does not. This article states that you can multi-task, but both actions must be simple and familiar, and most the time, at least one of the actions is complex and unfamiliar. During the media binge, I found myself switch-tasking a lot. It took me much longer to do my homework and find my train-of-thought. Every time I got on a roll with an assignment, my phone would go off (a text, a snapchat, a news alert, all of the above, etc.) and I would have to immediately pick it up to see what it is about. This would also lead to the dark abyss of the internet we spoke about in class. I would click on one thing, something would catch my eye, and I would click on the next. I then swam through my shallow information bank and became completely distracted from my number one priority, homework.
Another problem I found with the media binge was my disconnection of people physically around me. I was very much connected with the online social world, but I soon realized that the online world doesn’t matter. Very little of it actually transfers to real life because of how shallow everything is on the Internet. I found it hard (and rude) to hold conversations while always checking my phone. People also notice these things and it is a definite turn off. I would not want to talk to someone not paying attention or giving me his or her full attention either!
On the opposite end of the spectrum was the media fast. I connected this earlier with living in the real world. This is because when you go through a media fast you are connected with the physical world around you. You do not have the clutter of things that don’t matter in your face. It is easier to be grateful and think clearly when the noise of materialism doesn’t crowd you on all sides. In class, Damian Pfister stated that your depth experiences are those deep engagements you have in life. Depth experience gives you those memorable and formable engagements and they are what life is all about. Since the Internet is so shallow, it is very rare to have deep experiences through it. It doesn’t touch the deepest desires and feelings that human beings are blessed with. Depth experience can be found through quality time with those you love. If you have your phone or laptop out when you are trying to spend quality time with those you love, you will be more connected with the Internet than you will be with the people you are with. It emotionally and mentally pulls you away from those you are with. You no longer care about what is being said or done in the real world.
The experience of the media fast was a relief after the binge. It gave me room to breathe and focus. This was also the perfect time for self-reflection and prayer. It is easy to get lost in the business of the world, which is why it is important to narrow your life down and focus on what is priority and what is going to truly matter in the future (not how many likes you get on Instagram or Facebook). There have been studies that show “unplugging” from the Internet is important. http://greatist.com/happiness/unplugging-social-media-email talks about some of these reasons and even rage was one of things. We are often impatient if we don’t have the fastest connection around and it brings anger within ourselves.
Overall, I think it is important to have somewhat of a connection to media because it is healthy and knowledgeable to know what is going on in the world, and it is handy when you have friends or family that live far away, but I think we need to live in the real world much more than the online world. A drop of media here and there is good, but always appreciate the physical “here and now” more.