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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