Sunday, April 30, 2017

Stop Snapchatting Your Concert Experience: The Media Binge/Fast

            When the class was first introduced to the media binge/fast assignment, I became overcome with dread. Sure, I could do the binge no problem. The fast, on the other hand, was going to be tricky, as I’m unreasonably attached to my smartphone.
I have been called out multiple times by friends and family for having an addiction to my phone. Granted, they’re not necessarily wrong. I enjoy being connected and in the loop. I get a sort of panic whenever I realize I don’t have my phone with me. As terrible as it sounds, I feel almost helpless without my phone nearby.
All this being said, the media binge was no different than a normal day for me. I wrote papers on my computer at the library, checked my social media every 20 minutes, and watched cheesy rom-coms on TV with my roommates. I completely ignored the world around me and spent most of my time staring at a 4.7-inch screen. I couldn’t even eat lunch without pulling up a YouTube video to watch while I ate. However, as the binge went on, I realized how dependent on technology I really am. I became much more self-aware of how much time I spent with my face in front of a screen. When it became time for the media fast, I was surprisingly ready for it.
Luckily, the media fast came after all of my papers had been submitted, so it was a lot easier to stay on track. I spent a lot of the fast studying for upcoming exams using textbooks and written notes rather than the Internet. I got lunch with my sister one day, and we spent the whole time chatting, so I was not even tempted to check my phone. The media fast felt like a breath of fresh air. Of course, there were times when I kept itching for my phone. It took a lot of restraint to keep my phone away, and I did cheat a few times to check Instagram or my email. However, I did a lot better than I expected to. I learned that while media can be a useful tool, it can also hinder us. Our technologies can prevent us from getting the most out of different experiences. It blows my mind what people will do to get the perfect picture for their Instagram or the best angle for a selfie. Concerts crowds today are full of cell phones taking videos for Snapchat stories. What happened to living in the moment? It’s like life has turned into a competition of whose life looks best on social media. Some people place more value on the number of “likes” they get on a photo than the grades they get in school.
Throughout this media binge/fast, I’ve learned that screen exposure should be handled in moderation. William Powers said, “To flourish and grow, that life requires time apart.” I interpret this quote to mean that we must balance our media interactions with our face-to-face ones. It helps to take a step back from the online world and embrace the outside one.

Source: Powers, William. “Disconnectopia: The Internet Sabbath,” in Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age (New York: Harper, 2010)

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