In the media binge and fast, the class was tasked to have a screen in front of us as much as possible Monday through Wednesday. Then the second half of the week, Thursday through Saturday, we were tasked to avoid digital technology and media whenever possible. It was the final reckoning of the semester. The rapture. The endgame. The media binge and fast was far harder than I thought it would be in both aspects… the splurge and the purge.
The splurge of the first half of the week was harder than I thought. I completely forgot about it until a day or two after it was supposed to have started, and trying to always have a screen was very difficult and hectic. Technology has its limitation and while it is supposed to enhance the quality of our lives, it does not always do so. While it is nice to have the internet at your fingertips, I found that it did not enhance my life like it was supposed to. I am a huge consumer of media as you will almost always see me with my phone, mp3 player, or laptop readily at hand… whether they are charged is another story. Being around technology constantly is very physically and emotionally draining. Having your attention being pulled and pushed every which way takes a toll on one’s psyche. For me, constantly being on technology made me emotionally tired. I constantly was bombarded by news stories, by photos of attractive people on Instagram, and it caused my brain to constantly be in overdrive, trying to catch up with everything in the world around it. But in many cases, those studies that you always hear about self esteem going down because of social media reigned true. Constantly being barraged by people presenting their best selves and the best parts of their lives took a toll on me emotionally. Physically, it made me restless and unable to concentrate on any one particular task for any extended period of time. I usually use media to relax and kind of tune out and mindlessly tune out the world, but when I was tasked to constantly be in that state, it was far more difficult to find the pleasure in the technology I was using. Technology became a source of stress for me rather than a place of solace. I wanted to distance myself as Plato could in the ancient times and lower my ever present busyness, but I could not. It made me realize how practical those philosophies were that Powers presented in his article “Not So Busy: Practical Philosophies for Every Day”.
The purge of technology from my life did not happen as much as I am sure that Jon Carter would have wanted, but in this world… who can blame me for not being able to purge technology from our lives? This world requires us to be infinitely and intimately connected to the world around us, whether we want it or not. The purge was hard to adhere to both personally and contextually, which met my expectations of how the purge would go. I thought it would be mainly annoying and bad, but it was very pleasant coming from the deluge of constant media in my face. The freedom from media allowed me to hunker down and get some stuff done at times, but inevitably my mind would wander. When I did disconnect, it was very short lived as screens are everywhere on campus, and many are in public spaces, so I could not physically escape them. However, for those short moments, it was both blissful and stressful. It was so nice to be able to clear my life of the downpour of media being shoved in my face 24/7 for those short spurts. It allowed me to enjoy the weather (until it got utterly awful) and look at all the cute puppies being brought on campus all of the sudden. The purge allowed me to be more present, which I greatly appreciated as I rarely get to experience things in the moment in my current state and lifestyle (student, worker, etc.). For me though, I use technology in order to not let my mind wander and let me just think about myself, which can be very precarious for some – including me – to let us just sit and think. This is where the stress came from. It cleared my mind and my attention was not being pulled in 100 directions at once, but it also allows my mind to be blank, which is nice when I can attain that in short spans of time. I do want to try and integrate more media free time into my life though as it was calming when I managed to achieve that goal.
I do dearly wish that our world was not so technologically dependent and that we did not push for new technology as much. Yes, it is nice for slow writers such as myself to be able to type up notes, but it also allows me to mindlessly type rather than take the time to physically write with paper and pencil. As with anything, it is all about portion control. Everything in moderation. Technology is truly an amazing advancement and has provided us with some amazing opportunities and development as a society and as individuals, but let’s not forget how to simplify our lives and just take a second… and breathe.
Powers, “Not So Busy: Practical Philosophies for Every Day” and “Disconnectopia: The Internet Sabbath”