This past week we were assigned a media binge from Monday to Wednesday and then starting on Thursday we began our media fast. No big deal, right?
Well, some people freaked out about it in class. Me on the other hand, didn't think it was that big of a deal. Monday to Wednesday was a breeze, but then Thursday came around and I realized how much media had control over my life.
Every morning I wake up and check my phone. It's almost instantaneous at this point. One thing I noticed during the binge was how much time I spent in my bed looking through my social media apps, text messages and games on my phone.
Being so focused on media caused me to not pay attention in class and while studying and doing homework, even though I know we were told not to do that. I'd find myself scrolling through Facebook over and over again and constantly refreshing my emails because I'd get so bored of the media I'd be exposed to.
One lesson I took from this binge assignment is that we don't really realize how much time we spend focused on media. If I'm being completely honest, I don't feel like I acted much differently then I do on a day to day basis. We as a society are so obsessed with social media and constantly need to have a screen in our face. I remember when I broke my phone Sophomore year and had to go a week without it. It was terrible.
Which brings me to the second part of the assignment, the media fast. I'll be completely honest and say I sucked at fasting from media. For starters, there were Snapchat streaks I was not allowed to break so that wen out the window almost immediately. But also, training my brain to not constantly be checking my phone or social media websites was incredibly difficult.
It was very easy for me to fast from media while at work, mostly because it looks bad when I have my phone out. On Thursday I did decide to leave my phone at home when I went to class and out for dinner, and even though it was awkward and frustrating, it was kind of nice. I turned on my do not disturb on my laptop and was able to take decent notes without having banners flashing in my face about a Facebook post or an email. Going to go pick up my food from Noodle's was a different story.
Thank God I only had to wait like 5 minutes for my food because I've never felt more uncomfortable in my life. Usually when I go out to eat with someone I bring my phone but leave it in my bag because I think it's rude to have it out, but when I'm picking up or ordering take-out I feel like I need my phone to look at while I wait. I didn't realize how much I used my phone as a time buffer for when I'm waiting for something, and I wish I didn't need it as much as I use it.
Just last night I went out with some friends, and the only time I really used my phone was to try and find where someone was. That's pretty normal for me when we go out, and not bringing my phone was not going to fly because honestly that would've just been dangerous.
One thing about me is that I like to people watch. When we were in the fast phase of our assignment I liked to look around and see how many people were using media. In class, most people weren't even taking notes - they were just scrolling through websites or working on homework for another class. When I'd be out, I'd notice a difference in tables and their moods. When I was waiting for my food, I noticed a couple who were both scrolling through their phones, barely speaking a word to one another. When I was out last night, I'd notice that at tables of friends too. But what i also noticed were the groups of people who didn't have their phones out and who were enjoying their time with their company.
I know I get annoyed when I'm with someone and their scrolling through their phones. When me and my roommates went out for brunch this morning I literally yelled at one of them for liking one of my tweets while I was talking to her. I know some people claim they can "multi-task" while listening to someone but honestly you can't. I know I lose track of what people are saying to me and I always feel like I'm being rude.
Overall, this was an interesting experience. It was difficult and annoying at times, but it really made me realize how much we need to focus on the world around us versus the world on our screens. Communication is important in our daily lives and in our relationships, and when we actually interact with each other in the physical world we learn and appreciate each other more then when we do in the virtual world.
So, if I've learned anything from this assignment it's that we need to start putting our phones away, shutting our laptops and turning off our televisions and enjoy the people and life that we have in front of us.