Saturday, April 30, 2016

Media Binge/Fast Reflection

I thought it would be easy. I thought I had the will-power of God himself. I thought I could binge all day long and then suddenly cut myself off and not even touch my phone. But, unfortunately, I thought wrong...

I will say, this was a wonderful and eye-opening experience for me. I learned a lot about my social media habits and what happens when you don't use it in moderation. I also learned that I depend on my devices a heck of a lot more than I ever would have imagined.

The first three days (Monday through Wednesday), I went on my media binge. I was honestly super excited for this! On Sunday night, I was like a kid before Christmas because I knew that I would have an excuse to look up all the funny memes, watch all the puppy videos, and like all the Instagram posts my little heart desired. Normally, I am very good about rewarding myself with media only after I have completed a few things that I needed to do that day. But when Monday rolled around, all that discipline walked right out the door.

I woke up on Monday at 8:30 a.m. On a normal Monday, I wake up around 9:30 a.m. because I do not have class until 10:30 a.m. However, this was no normal Monday. This was my first day of media freedom, and I just couldn't wait to get it started! For the first hour of my day, I caught up on all the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posts. I became completely consumed with this, and by 10:15, I was scrambling to get myself ready and head out the door. I quickly poured myself a cup of coffee, threw on some clean clothes, and tossed my hair into a ponytail, all while tapping and scrolling through snapchat stories. If you ask me, my first morning of the binge was quite impressive, but that's not where it stopped.

Once I sat down in my communication class, I look out my laptop and pulled up the lecture slides for that day. After a few slides and several yawns, I decided that it was time to continue my binge. I very rarely get on my phone or the internet during class, but I rationalized it by telling myself that this was for school - it was a required assignment (and I always do my best on my assignments, so why not now, right?). Since I had put my phone on pocket points (yay free stuff!), I decided to get onto Pinterest on my laptop. As I scrolled, I began daydreaming about all the plans I was making via my Pinterest boards. My mind drifted off to warm summer days in the garden, tiresome nights traveling around the U.S., and laughing until my ribs got sore with my best friends. The next two weeks could not pass quickly enough!

Before I knew it, it was time to leave class and head to my next one. Since my next class was astronomy and I am not very skilled in science, I decided to pause my fast for my GPA's sake. But you can bet that when 12:20 rolled around, I was already intrigued with a Facebook post!

The rest of the day was free for me, so I literally just say in my room and watched YouTube videos all day long. I had 52 videos in my "watch later" queue, and I watched every. Single. One. And let me tell you, these were not short, two-minute videos! Most were 10 minutes or longer. One was even a half hour long! By the time I was finished with them, it was already past the time I usually go eat some dinner, so I headed to the dining hall as I caught up on the latest snapchat stories. When I got back, I got back on YouTube and added 13 more videos to my watch later list for the next day. Then, I binge-watched "Making a Murderer" with my boyfriend (we watched half the season that day, and planned to watch the next half the next day).

This was all fun and games until it was 5 a.m. and I hadn't slept a wink. My brain was so wired from the blue lights on my phone and my laptop that I had developed temporary insomnia. I tried drinking a relaxing tea, I tried stretching and doing some nighttime yoga, and I even tried taking melatonin, but to no avail. I was wide awake, and yet I was absolutely exhausted. No matter what I did, I absolutely could not keep my eyes closed long enough to fall asleep.

At 7:30 a.m., I was in tears. Actually, that's an understatement - I was bawling. It was time for me to wake up for the day, and I hadn't gotten one single second of sleep. I attempted to go on a run as I am training for the half marathon, but I barely made it two miles before I had to turn around and run back. I felt like I was going to trip and fall asleep on the sidewalk with every step I took! Let me tell you, I was absolutely miserable.

Since Tuesdays and Thursdays are my busiest days, I needed something to wake me up and prepare me for the tough hours ahead. I made the strongest coffee I own, got dressed, and slowly dragged myself to class. I made it through my first class without falling asleep, and finally the caffeine was starting to kick in. As soon as I got back to my dorm room, I logged onto my Facebook account and started back on my binge once again. The rest of the day consisted of two classes and more media (really, nothing to note).

By Wednesday night, I was so ready for the media fast. I was exhausted, crabby, and I hadn't really interacted with anyone for three days straight. I thought that the binge would be easy and fun, but since I actually went as hard as I could, it ended up being detrimental. It was dead week, and I had never truly felt so dead in my life.

On Thursday morning, my first instinct was to pick up my phone and check all of my social media. I had a few notifications on each app, and I very badly wanted to see what they were, but I refrained. I told myself that I was going to really focus on fasting and studying since I had studied exactly 0 seconds so far that week, and this was my first temptation that I needed to curb.

Honestly, the next three days were extremely hard for me. I thought it would be easy after wearing myself out before, but it ended up just sucking regardless. I definitely didn't realize how much I depended on social media for my news, for an outlet when I am emotional, or for a distraction when I am bored. I was forced to actually interact with people, and sometimes that wasn't so fun. However, I got a ton of stuff done, and I had some really wonderful conversations with some people in my life. After hearing what Damien said about the "media sabbath" in class, I decided to adopt that idea into my own life. So tomorrow (Sunday), I will be fasting once again, and I plan to repeat that weekly.

Overall, I found this assignment to be extremely eye-opening. I not only got to talk to people that I hadn't spoken with for a very long time, but I also learned that media in moderation is the best way to get that stimulation without overloading your system. I believed that I had a pretty good system before this assignment on when and for how long I could be on social media, watch Netflix, etc., but now I think I need to tone it down even more than I originally thought. I think that this assignment would be good for all millennials to complete - we don't realize how much media affects us until we live without it.

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