The first day of the binge I didn't feel like I was doing anything differently- listening to music constantly and checking my emails, grades, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts obsessively. It felt like a normal day, just a little bit turned up. I went to bed that night-after hours of scrolling-feeling like this assignment would be a breeze. It wasn't until the night of the second day that I realized the physical and social changes that being glued to a screen for 48 hours had caused.
My eyes were heavy and tender, I was tired all day, and I ate poorly because I was so distracted. Because the point of this assignment is to be aware of these changes, I did the thing that any social media driven millennial would do- Googled it. Some of the scary results from this website include brain restructuring and vulnerability to eye strain. I can't say whether or not I could feel my brain creating new paths, but I can definitely vouch for the eye pressure. I also found out that my phone screen emits a light that halts melatonin production- very literally making it harder to fall asleep and altering your sleep cycle.
At a first glance, I felt more connected than I normally do. I knew what was happening in everyone's lives and had a good sense of who was doing what. At a second glance I didn't socialize any more than I normally do. The surplus of online conversation and interaction was balanced by the lack of face to face interactions I had. I also noticed that Snapchat had me feeling envious of people I wouldn't normally be envious of. It is one of social media's greatest paradoxes that because I was on my phone more and in reality less, I was more envious of people who were doing fun things in reality and on their phones less. Anytime I saw someone at a concert or hanging out with friends I got jealous, and then continued sitting alone in my dorm drowning in other people's interactions. Being glued to Twitter also had me analyzing and judging other people pretty heavily. I even put the people that I follow into 4 categories:
"Can anyone give me 80$"
"Not trying to wish away this time of my life, but oh my GOD I cannot wait until I'm happily married with my own little babies :) <3"
"Your all will never be enough to the wrong person, but to the right person, it'll be plenty."
3. The Rant
"I'm sorry dude im so sorry but ontop of the world by imagine dragons should be burnt in hell that song is so horrible"
"Like a gender reveal but instead of eating pink or blue cake you smash a piggy bank to reveal 1$ if it's a boy or 78 cents if it's a girl"
After two days of binging, I called it quits due to a lack of academic motivation, poor eating habits, and negative feelings of envy.
The media fast had its positives and negatives. At first I was happy to be away from my phone and its friends and felt more energetic, motivated, and focused. After the second day I began to miss the people and things that I could only connect with through the internet and the fast began to take its toll.
During the entire fast I ate more consciously and got a lot more homework done. When I had to use my computer for assignments I stuck to only what I needed and didn't look at any other accounts. I felt more awake, went to bed right when my head hit the pillow, and woke up without feeling groggy.
The first day I felt more in touch than I normally do- I socialized with the people I recognized, watched passersby, and overall was more connected to what was going on around me. I didn't mind not having my phone or social media accounts because I could have those same interactions, but more deeply and intimately, in real life.
The second day I gave in for two reasons:
1. Three of the most important people in my life live in Omaha and I communicate with them every day through texting, social media, and phone calls. One of the greatest parts about technology (and its original purpose if you ask me) is that it helps you maintain relationships with the people you care about no matter where they are. This aspect of my phone isn't something that I'm willing to give up very easily.
2. I get my news updates and health tips from apps on my phone. Staying in touch with big events happening in the world and monitoring what I eat are both positive parts of my life.
The day after my media binge and fast ended, I was scrolling through Facebook. Of the countless videos and links that caught my attention, two retained it and I have since shared them with other people and thought of them often. The first is the Tale of the Two Wolves. In this story there are two wolves, one represents good and the other, evil. The grandfather tells his son that the wolf that wins is the one you feed. Taken out of context I think this can be a good metaphor for this concept- the internet is what you make of it. We can choose to spend our days binging on pointless material, obsessing over the lives of people that aren't relevant to us, and having surface level interactions with a false reality. We can also choose to make the internet a positive and cultured experience. We can broaden our horizons, meet new people, and learn new perspectives at the tips of our fingers. After completing this assignment, I am going to consciously focus on making my media environment look like the latter. The other video that I watched on Facebook has enhanced this decision. I have always believed that we each have something to bring to the table and I think the internet can be a beautiful platform to see what other people are bringing and to get a clearer sense of what I might someday bring. This assignment has shown me that all experiences in life are positive in moderation and I think that media is going to be a continuous example of why I believe that is true.