Mountain Don’t

     ImageWhile perusing the Internet recently, I was prompted to watch an advertisement for Mountain Dew before being directed to a YouTube video I was hoping to watch. I usually ignore these pesky ads, so I thought nothing of this particular annoyance—until I was jolted out of my absentmindedness by the outright offensiveness of the ad.

            The ad for this popular soda drink features a battered-looking woman choosing her attacker out of a police lineup. The lineup features several men and one surprising suspect: a goat. The menacing goat mutters at the woman, threatening her not to tell the police who it was that beat her. The ad was found so offensive that it can no longer be found anywhere online in its entirety.

            As if the fact that a battered woman is being scared into not ratting out her attackerImage isn’t bad enough, aside from the goat, the lineup of suspects she had to choose from was made up entirely of African American males. Not only was this commercial horrendously offensive in the way that it downplayed domestic violence towards women but also in it’s blatant racism.

            I immediately was prompted to write a strongly worded letter to the CEO of PepsiCo (the company that owns Mountain Dew) who- to my surprise- was a woman herself!

Dear Indra Nooyi,

            I was terribly disappointed with a recent ad for Mountain Dew that I viewed online. It is your responsibility as a CEO to oversee any and all publicity that your company produces and the fact that you allowed a commercial that was so offensive to be put out on the Internet is a terrifying oversight. Either- which I hope is the case- you did not approve this ad before it was made public or you saw it fit for public viewing and knowingly allowed it to be made public, either of which are disappointing explanations.

            I found this commercial offensive on two levels: first of all, the depiction of a battered woman being scared into not turning her attacker into the police is a terrible message to be sent out not only to women who are of victims of domestic abuse, but to their attackers and all men and women alike as well. Secondly, the fact that the entire lineup of suspects was comprised of solely African American men was sadly racist and narrow-minded.

            If you want to continue receiving support from your consumers, you must be far more insightful and respectful in your future advertisements. I hope to see any and all traces of your ad removed from the Internet at once.

Your Concerned Customer,

Alana Mercante

      You can watch as much of the clip as possible and see for yourself how Mountain Dew’s irrelevant and insulting advertisement was completely inappropriate for public viewing.

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Smirnoff Creates a Buzz Among Drinkers

     ImageWhether you personally partake in the consumption of alcoholic beverages or not, we can all agree that it is pretty impossible to avoid being surrounded by advertisements for alcohol. Promotions for alcohol can be seen on television commercials, in magazine print ads, outdoor ads on buses, billboards and sports complexes and a constant presence on social media. 

     One of the companies that is most successful in grabbing public attention through the use Imageof multiple mediums is Smirnoff vodka. In their recent $2.5 million ad campaign, Smirnoff utilizes every facet of advertising in order to saturate the market with their name and their products. In order to stay relevant in such a competitive field, Smirnoff has been introducing new and exciting vodka flavors such as their light sorbet flavors in Raspberry Pomegranate, Mango Passion Fruit and Lemon.

     Another tactic that Smirnoff employs to gain popularity when promoting their products is the usage of a “naughty-and-nice” theme, with supermodel Amber Rose as the face of this campaign for their Fluffed Marshmallow and Whipped Cream flavored vodka. This popular new campaign is featured on television commercials as well as in print ads in magazines. This ad approach is featured during prime-time television (7pm to 11pm) on channels such as ESPN, MTV, and main broadcast networks such as FOX and NBC. The time and channels on which these ads air is no coincidence; Smirnoff understands who their target audience is and exposes them to their products at the most opportune times.

     Young, hip socialites between the ages of 21 and 35 are the ideal demographic as consumers of Smirnoff. In order to appeal to this group of people, Smirnoff remains current by advertising their products on social media platforms such as Twitter. Smirnoff ads also employ the usage of attractive models, trendy and catchy music and popular flavors to entice their consumers. 

     Smirnoff, as well as other alcohol brands, are immensely successful in attracting their desired fan base by identifying what will entice their consumers and applying those strategies in several different forms. By using multiple different media platforms to promote their products, they frequently remind their consumers of their products without bombarding them with the product repeatedly in the same manner, which will successfully keep the consumer’s interest without turning them off from the product.

     If you haven’t seen the Smirnoff commercials featuring Amber Rose, I suggest you checkImage one out and analyze it for all the successful persuasive techniques it employs. Also, keep your eye out for Smirnoff ad campaigns everywhere else; you may not have noticed before how prevalent they are but I can guarantee that you soon will find them hard to avoid—they’re everywhere! And remember: always drink responsibly.

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Amanda, Please

     If you’re on Twitter, Instagram or Vine these days (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), you’ve probably seen or heard some things recently about Amanda Bynes. Best remembered as a Nickelodeon child star for her roles on television shows such as All That and The Amanda Show, Amanda’s position in the public eye has recently taken a dramatic turn for the worse.

     Several celebrity gossip magazines and websites have voiced their growing concern for ImageAmanda and her “sad spiral of shame.” On various social media sites, Amanda has been posting alarming videos and pictures of herself displaying bizarre behavior. In one such picture, Amanda is posing on a bathroom counter, topless and wearing nothing but hot pants and ripped fishnet stockings. Amanda has spoken out to inTouch magazine, defending her actions and claiming that she is in perfect mental health.

     Despite the increasing worries about Amanda Bynes’ current behavior, there are many ways to take hold of her situation and spin it in a more positive light. Amanda has a following comprised mostly of preteen to teenage girls who were fans of hers back in her All That days. It is important to reach out to these fans and regain their support for a celebrity whom they once idolized. An effective tactic would be to call a press conference where Amanda herself speaks to a crowd of both press and fans and explains her recent actions.

     It is not necessarily important for Amanda to apologize for her actions, just so long as she has decent explanations behind them. It is important for her to rule out any possibility of there being drug or alcohol involvement in her sporadic behavior.

     In order to portray Amanda in a more positive light, it would be immensely beneficial to Imagehave her come out of retirement from acting and get back in to television and film. At the height of her career, Amanda had her own successful television program and starred in several box office hit movies. This presence in the public eye would be enormously helpful in keeping Amanda on track and engaging in positive behaviors that will result in a positive response from the public, her fans and the media.

     This campaign would be risky, especially since Amanda Bynes has recently proven herself to be somewhat unpredictable. In drawing attention to her situation by wanting to make improvements, it could backfire very easily and create even more negative attention for Amanda if she continues her reckless behavior and does not follow her public rehabilitation program.

     Changing the public’s opinion of a celebrity who is being called “crazy” by several online and print tabloid sources is not easy, but with the proper public relations tactics and a dedicated client, anyone is capable of turning their image around.

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A Wondrous World

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“The stories we love best live in us forever.” – J.K. Rowling

     These words, as spoken by the author of my most beloved fictional book series could not hold Imagemore true. It is impossible for me to choose just one novel in the Harry Potter series that is more important to me than the others; the series has has such an incredibly profound impact on my life that I can only discuss it as a whole entity. Now, anybody who knows me knows that I am a die hard Harry Potter fan. I’ve read all seven books in the series at least eleven times each, I prefer a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios over a wild spring break in Panama City Beach and I was taken out of school early as a child on the days that a new movie was released in theaters. I have a Deathly Hallows keychain on my car keys, a Hogwarts banner hanging proudly above my bed and the instrumental scores of the first four movie soundtracks on my iPod. Needless to say, Harry Potter is an extremely prevalent part of my life.

     As an avid reader my entire life, I have always had a special connection with the written word; where other children found entertainment sitting in front of the television for hours at a time, I sought my enjoyment through books. I have knocked over many glasses of water and jugs of milk at the kitchen table because I insist on reading while I eat (I guess those are the occupational hazards of being a bookworm). When I was introduced to the Harry Potter series by my sister at age eight, I had no idea that she was introducing me to seven books that would become a part of who I am today.

     My adventure began with a tattered and well-read copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone passed down to me by my older sister, Alyssa. She continued to pass on her copies of Imageeach novel to me until I was old enough to join her in camping outside Barnes and Nobles at midnight on the night that a new novel was being released. It was a race between my sister and I to finish the books before the sun rose on the night that we purchased them; I would devour these sometimes-over-700-word-books in under six hours and as soon as I read the last word, I would turn to page one and begin the novel again from the beginning.

     Harry Potter has provided me with an incredible and mystical world in which to immerse myself. As a child I would spend hours pouring over the pages filled with fantastical descriptions of landscapes, creatures, sports, food and clothing that I could never have dreamed possible. As a young adult I am still just as enamored with the characters and the settings as I was over ten years ago. J.K. Rowling has an unprecedented gift of description and imagery and her words allowed me to use my imagination in ways that a book had never challenged me to do before. 

     Not only is the Harry Potter series a fresh and entertaining read, it is written by a truly sharp woman who injects her intelligence into every word she writes. J.K. Rowling is more than a children’s book author, she is an innovator and a genius. The world that she has created in her Harry Potter series is one that I will always remember as a prevalent part of my childhood well into my adult years. The everlasting influence of this series has me automatically reading anything that has Jo Rowling’s name on it–including her new novel Casual Vacancy.

     The Harry Potter series has had more influences on me than I can name. It is without a doubt my favorite and most treasured collection of books that I have ever read and I am proud to say that I am a Muggle who thoroughly enjoys reading about spellcasting, potion-making and Quidditch matches.

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A Disney Culture: The Good, The Bad & The Princess-y

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     It goes without saying that most kids in America grew up with Disney at the center of their childhood. The world that Walt Disney created became our worlds as well, his movies serving as our babysitters when our parents couldn’t get us to take a nap, his characters inspiring countless years of Halloween costumes and his theme parks being the dream destination of every Super Bowl winning quarterback.

     As a mature 20-year-old looking back, I can see all the wonderful things that Disney provided me with as a child but I also am now more aware of some of the issues that people may have with the Disney culture as well. As a little girl, I saw Disney movies as nothing more than 90 minutes of bright, musical entertainment; I never picked up on the parallels throughout the characters and themes of the movies. It wasn’t until I grew older, however, and began to understand more about life and culture that I began to feel slightly perturbed at these movies that I had once been so enamored with. The main subjects of criticism are Disney’s princesses; the stories of these young women may seem romantic and alluring on the surface, but upon deeper investigation these stories can appear to be a modern woman’s worst nightmare.

     After recently re-watching a personal favorite of mine, The Little Mermaid, my eyes were Imageopened to the disturbing idea that the movie presented: Ariel gives up her voice to be with the man whom she loves and must rely solely on her “body language” to woo Prince Eric. Yikes. This wasn’t even veiled in some kind of metaphorical situation; Ariel literally has no voice and has only her body to entice a man into loving her. Now I don’t consider myself a big feminist but c’mon, Disney. You’re killin’ me with this one.

     Another issue I’ve noticed with my reevaluation of Disney movies is that of healthy body images. Just as Barbie provides little girls with an unrealistic (and frankly, unhealthy) image of body weight and type, Disney princesses could easily give young girls the false impression that the only vision of beauty is one of a minuscule waistline, large breasts and hair down to your butt. Princess Jasmine of Aladdin is the quintessential example of unrealistic Disney bodies: she wears a provocative, midriff-baring outfit, exposing her almost nonexistent waist that is drastically contrasted by her large bust and voluptuous hips, her waist-length and cascading hair serving as the cherry on top of the perfect body sundae. Even as a 6-year-old I understood that my Princess Jasmine outfit definitely did not look the same way on me as it did on her. I’m certainly not putting the sole blame on Disney characters for body issue images amongst young girls but I can say with confidence that it doesn’t help our body image issues to grow up watching women with 39-18-33 measurements. 

     Disney does a wonderful job of presenting us with unique women; each princess has her own personality and her own story to tell. Often these stories are ones of strength, courage and acceptance. Unfortunately, the redeeming qualities of the princesses (Ariel’s spunky and independent attitude, Belle’s love and appreciation of literature, Mulan’s refusal to accept traditional gender roles) are often completely negated in the end when their stories all end roughly the same way: they live “happily ever after,” with this fairytale ending prompted solely by a man–their “knights in shining armor.” Mulan basically single-handedly wins the war (the war they didn’t even want her in) for her country, but her grandmother’s last concern is that she find herself a husband. Ariel goes through an incredible journey of self-discovery and ends it by leaving her family to marry Eric. Jasmine runs away to avoid getting pushed into a marriage she does not want at her young age but happily marries Aladdin anyway at the end of the movie. Disney often presents us with wonderful themes and stories but their downfall lies in their undermining of these themes and stories by having stereotypical, one-dimensional and sometimes downright offensive female characters.

     I personally never suffered from unrealistic expectations of love or severely lowered self esteem due to what I saw in Disney movies but I can understand why other girls might have. Disney brings childhood stories to life in amazingly poignant and entertaining ways, this I think we can all agree on. Unfortunately, their success in this area does not completely outshine the fact that they often present young girls with unrealistic or anti-feminist visions as well. In the culture we live in today, (one constantly surrounded by and exposed to stick-thin models, pills and drinks promising quick and plentiful weight loss and most women in the public eye wearing sizes no bigger than a 2 or 4) it should definitely be a cause for concern that girls are being exposed to these issues so early. I think it’s important to keep Disney in the lives of these young girls, but also to make the distinction between Disney and reality.

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Social Media: Making Us Less Social?

Image     It’s no secret that social media is an extremely prevalent part of our lives in today’s society. Everywhere you look you can find people accessing social media, whether it be perusing Facebook in class, tweeting while waiting online at the bank or checking into Foursquare at a restaurant. But has all this social media on our computers and cell phones distracted us from social interactions in real life?

     Megan Puglisi discusses how social media sites are “ruining the public communication skills” of American college students in her article for The Daily Athenaeum, West Virginia University’s daily newspaper. According to Puglisi, a 2010 Northern Michigan University study showed that students who accessed Facebook or had it up in the background while studying earned grades that were an average 20% lower than students who kept off the social media site entirely.     While Puglisi praises Facebook for it’s ability to allow college students to “maintain bonds” with their friends and family who they may be separated from while away at school, she

Imagecriticizes the fact that the site also allows students to avoid physical contact with their peers. A public relations professor at West Virginia University, Dr. Kelley Crowley, sees this
reticency in her students. Dr. Crowley notices that her students are “more comfortable sending me an e-mail from behind a computer screen” rather than meeting with her directly.

     I myself have definitely seen this issue in my own classrooms here at Towson. I’ve overheard conversations between other students and spoken to my own friends about how they choose to walk out of the room after class, passing their professor on the way out, to go back to their rooms and e-mail that same teacher with important questions they have. Personally, I relish the relationships I create with my professors by hanging back after class and discussing my questions with them. I also enjoy being known by my professors as “Alana” rather than “amerca3@students.towson.edu,” giving them the chance to put a face to my name instead of remaining just a faceless e-mail address.

Another glaring social media-enduced issue Puglisi covers is the atrocious grammar and spelling that often litters Facebook timelines and Twitter news feeds. She worries that our generation’s constant usage of informal language on social media sites will “dramatically increase and threaten [our] intelligence and productivity.” As a self-proclaimed member of the Grammar Police myself, I can understand aher concerns. My social media feeds are riddled with questions of “r u gonna b their tonite?” and friends telling friends “your so much better then me at math!!” and I can’t help but cringe and worry for our future generations who cannot seem to grasp an understanding of the difference between your and you’re. The informality of communication over social media has students misunderstanding the importance of keeping “texting language” out of their formal class papers or e-mails to professors.

     It is my worry that eventually the people who make careless grammatical mistakes will become the bosses of large corporations and in turn will hire people with similarly bad grammar. Soon after, we will be driving past billboards and reading newspapers filled with mistakes simply because employers are accepting of and perpetuating the usage of improper grammar and terrible spelling. Puglisi includes a reference in her article to After the Deadline, a free web browser plug-in that checks your writing for spelling and grammar mistakes before you submit papers. So, please, for the love of grammar, utilize this website (or simply pay attention to that blaring red squiggly line underneath your misspelled words) and educate yourself before posting things on social media!

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Two Visions of the Future

It’s amazing to think that when my parents were at the age that I am now that they had access to nowhere near the amount of technology that I use today on a very regular basis. I’m sure if you told a teenager in the 1970s that within the next 30 years, 1.06 billion people will be accessing and connecting through a website on their computers, cell phones and
Imagewhere they can share videos and pictures in real time to anyone, anywhere in the world at any time, they would be in (understandable) disbelief. Nowadays, there practically isn’t a soul on Earth who doesn’t use Facebook—or at least know what it is.

That just goes to show how nearly impossible it is to predict where our society will be in 20, 10, or even 5 years from now. In a society so heavily dependent on technology where new and amazing innovations are constantly being released, things could very easily take a dramatic turn for the better or for the worse—depending on how we as a civilization decide to act. On that note, I give you the year 2035. . . . . . .

     I hear the dim sounds of ocean waves, cascading over one another as a bird chirps in the background. The sound gradually crescendos, starting off quietly and getting successively louder over the course of 60 seconds until I am very gently and gradually woken up. Once I am fully awake I think, “alarm off” and the sounds immediately stop. Just one perk of the implantation chip in my brain is not having to get out of bed to shut an alarm off. While the chip is a fairly new addition, I am already beginning to get used to it.

All babies born after 2030 are given the chip on their first day of life, but since I was already 17 when the chip was invented, it is not as familiar to me as those who are essentially born with it. Steve Jobs III is the mastermind behind the BrainWave™, an innovation that has single-handedly changed the way we as a human race live. The chip was first invented and implanted on 5 test subjects for 10 years and after seeing the life-changing effects it had on the test subjects, the U.S. Government passed a law to make the chip mandatory in every American. This law eventually caught on to other countries until every inhabitant of Earth was implanted with a BrainWave device.

Since the globalization of the BrainWave, our world has not seen a single war. There is no more poverty, no disease, and the average life expectancy has soared to 202 years. The BrainWave chip is a multifunctional device that acts as an immune system strengthener, sending hormones and antibodies throughout your body at the first onsite of illness, before Imageyou even know that you are sick. People are healthier and therefore happier. The absence of illness and increase in happiness led to worldwide alliances and cooperation, effectively abolishing all inter-country conflict. The chip improves speed and capability of brain functions, allowing the top innovators of our time to invent amazing revolutions, also improving upon the design and function of the BrainWave.

The BrainWave allows us to change our clothes with a single thought. We can change the color  of our clothes merely by touching an object of the desired color. It also functions almost as a pair of second eyes; if you’re too preoccupied texting to watch where you’re going while crossing the street, the chip will send signals to your muscles to stop yourself if you are put in harm’s way. The BrainWave delivers news, education, information and directions on any subject matter directly into the frontal lobe of the brain. The functions and possibilities of the BrainWave are ever expanding and endless, ranging from simple every day tasks to overall lifestyle improvements.

The BrainWave has made changes to communication technologies that we never before thought possible. Phone and video calls can be made anywhere, at any time; the chip produces a projection suspended in the air up to 12 inches away from your eye level that allows you to see, hear and communicate with another person in real time. This innovation completely changed the face of the communication industry as we know it; movie and television producers use the live streaming video projection as a way to advertise and stream movies and shows and news stations have the ability to cover and share news stories on the spot.

ImageOur society is now one of peace and health. We are constantly innovating and improving upon our technologies and ourselves. Thanks to the invention and mass expansion of the
BrainWave, our amazingly advanced society lives in a healthy harmony while never becoming complacent and always striving to continue making changes to better our world and ourselves.

* * *

     I sit at my kitchen table, dressed in the government-issued gray jumpsuit and reading the headlines of the Daily Newspaper. Since The New Depression hit, I haven’t read a single newspaper headline that didn’t begin with “death,” “catastrophe,” or some other depressing word. The New Depression came after the 46th President of the United States was pressured by his supporters to keep good on his pre-election promise and approved nationwide free healthcare. Shortly after, our government became completely bankrupt. After several poor correspondences and broken promises with the leaders of other countries, our President completely alienated our country so we received no support during our financial crisis.

     After America fell into a state of financial and personal despair, the rest of the world’s countries followed suit. The artificial intelligence innovations perfected by scientists over the years was thought to be the help the world needed to increase productivity and aimprove the value of life but things took a dramatic turn for the worse. Unfortunately, the scientists did too good of a job creating the AI bots and within 6 months, the robots completely erased the need for human presence. Every industry’s work could be entirely done by machines and unemployment soared to an unprecedented 95%.

     In response to the complete collapse of society, the impressionable President allowed the few wealthy Americans left to run the country through him. Those few people who managed to withhold what was left of the nation’s finances are now entirely in control of what policies get passed in the country. They choose what news reaches the masses and what news is withheld from us.

    I no longer work a part time job but I do still attend school. My classes are taught by TeachBots who are programmed by the President and his affiliates to teach us students only what they deem as important. We have no control over what we learn, what we wear or what awe eat. As a country, we elected a weak man filled with empty promises and now we are paying for it. Our country is poor and run entirely by those few with money who push only their own personal agendas. We are ruled by the technology we ourselves created to help us but ironically were pushed out of our jobs and lives as a result of perfecting those innovations.

***

     The future is a place that holds endless opportunities but it is important to understand that we are in control of which direction our society goes in. I had fun concocting these drastic visions of  myself experiencing the different scenarios that the future could hold, but it also really caused me to reflect on how our behavior now can effect us in the future. That being said, I invite you to ask yourself this: what do you see for our future?

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Media Blackout 2013

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I went into my task of avoiding all forms of media for 24 hours fairly confident, and ended up being surprisingly proud of my ability to avoid most voluntary exposure. Honestly, it’s an experience I would recommend to most people, especially after all the reactions I received when telling people what I was doing.

“Oh my god, I would DIE if I had to go a whole day without Instagram!”
“What are you supposed to do all day if you can’t check Facebook and Twitter…?”
These are verbatim reactions that I received when I told some of my friends that I was attempting to spend an entire day avoiding all forms of media–yes, even social media like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Are we all that addicted to media that we equate not checking Instagram to death?? Unfortunately, I think that might be true.

While I was proud of the true inner strength that I exerted when avoiding social media sites, it was unfortunately much more difficult for me to avoid using my cellphone for e-mails and text messages. Every morning when I wake up, I am bombarded with e-mails; Twitter, Towson University, Victoria’s Secret, Sur La Table, Urban Outfitters: these are just a few of the many senders to which I am subscribed to and receive daily emails from. As a member of a sorority and the club soccer team here at Towson, I am forced to use e-mail to stay in touch and remain aware of when and where I have to attend practices and events.

I knew that avoiding media during my down time was going to be an impossibility, so I settled on making a compromise with myself: I would try to avoid the media that my last blog made me realize I used far too often. Instead of watching TV in between classes and before I went to bed, I instead picked up- and finished- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (a novel that I simply cannot recommend highly enough, by the way).

I struggled to eliminate the music out of my day, and felt oddly vulnerable without my earphones in my ears as I walked to class. This made me realize that I kind of use my music as a security blanket. I could walk to class and pass a hundred faces but not have to feel connected to or judged by any of them; I was in my own little world and didn’t have to hear anything anyone else was saying or- God forbid- interact with them. Ironically enough, the minute I walked into the elevator in the Liberal Arts building, someone struck up a conversation with me– something that never happened when I was shut off in my own bubble of Shermanology and Qulinez. And, hey, it was actually kind of nice to have some human interaction! 

All in all, I’d like to give myself a pat on the back for the voluntary media that I managed to avoid (although, OK, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check Facebook once or twice). There are certain things, however, that I just could not get around: I needed to use my phone throughout the day to check e-mails and text certain people. I needed to access books and the Internet to get my homework done. My roommates were watching TV when I entered the apartment, and blasted music from their car radios when we went to Chipotle and the mall.

Media is so interspersed into our everyday lives that it is impossible to avoid, but I don’t think that’s necessarily all bad. I have first-hand understanding of the fact that we rely on media to stay connected to one another. News, books, TV, the Internet, cellphones, all these things are great when used in moderation. Certain types of media, such as social media websites and reality TV shows, however, are accessed (in my opinion) far too often. It felt good to shut off The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and read a book instead of watching Kim get her 3rd nose job. It felt good to have a conversation with that nice girl in the elevator instead of tuning the world out with my music. I wasn’t going through media withdrawals by the end of the day like I had expected. This experience was definitely an eye-opening one, and one I would suggest everyone should try- at least for as long as they can manage, because you’ll never know what’s going on in the world around you if you have your face buried in your Twitter feed all day.

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Turn Off That Damn TV!

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Wake up. Turn alarm off. Groggily grope around tangle of blankets on bed, searching for cell phone. After recovering from temporary blindness, caused by shockingly bright phone screen, check text messages and e-mails… then Facebook… then Twitter… then Instagram.

Sound familiar? This, I unfortunately admit, is the pattern I have fallen into every morning. I sleep with my phone under my pillow, use it as my alarm, and am instantly connected to hundreds of friends before even leaving my bed in the morning.

When getting out of bed, as soon as my feet hit the floor I shuffle over to my TV and turn it on. I get ready for class in the morning with the TV on as background noise and upon returning from class reflexively turn on the television the minute I walk into my room. I even keep the TV on as I read, study, and do homework for class.

Typically, multitasking is considered beneficial behavior. However, I’m not sure if that positivity can be applied in reference to my multitasking as I do homework, have the TV on, listen to music, and constantly check social media sites from my phone and my computer. At this point, I don’t see this so much as a dependence on media rather than a habit–and a bad habit at that.

When going to class, I can almost always be seen with headphones in my ears, my music keeping me company as I make the 15 minute walk to campus. Driving to visit my boyfriend at Stevenson University, the radio was my driving companion and I listened to music through my iPod for the entire ride.

After keeping an hour-by-hour 2-day log of all my media usage, it became very obvious to me how much time was being spent on the Internet (specifically, social media websites), watching television (even if it just served as background noise), listening to music, and corresponding through text messages and e-mails. A shocking portion of my day (about 6-8 hours) is spent mindlessly refreshing Facebook and Twitter, a habitual action meant to entertain me for seconds or minutes at a time.

Another large chunk of my time is devoted to TV- both directly watching it and hearing it in the background as I get ready for class or type an essay. Whether I am watching it or not, television’s influence is present in my life for about 5-7 hours a day… Yikes.

Most of the time when I am walking on campus, I am also listening to music and any time I’m in my car, you can guarantee that the radio is on. Listening to music accounts for about 2-3 hours of my life each and every day.

That being said, a smaller amount of time was devoted to reading books, magazines or newspaper. So small, in fact, that I am slightly embarrassed by the discrepancy and would rather not reveal the drastic difference in my time spent utilizing each form of media. In fact, had it not been for mandatory class assignments that required reading articles from the New York Times and finishing a couple novels, I am afraid to say that almost none of my media usage would have been anything aside from, basically, music and reality TV and Facebook.

I have always prided myself on being an avid reader, reading whatever I can get my hands on, from magazines to newspapers to even the back of cereal boxes. Seeing how little time I spend reading- outside of what is mandatory for class- was startling and has inspired me to try to keep the TV off when I return to my apartment after class and instead reach for a book to entertain myself.

That being said, I think it’s time I got off the computer and picked up that book that I bought on my Nook two months ago and still haven’t finished. . . .

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