Media Depravation Experience

Goal: Go 24 Hours without any media, that includes TV, radio, mp3 player, computer/internet, Video games, texting, facebook, magazines, newspapers and even books.

I knew I was going to cheat on this thing from the minute it was assigned. However when I got up this morning I didn’t turn on the TV, and I didn’t check my email. When I got in the car and turned it on I was greeted by Colin Cowherd (The Herd on ESPN Radio – Sportstalk), at first I decided I would listen to that and then when I got to school (following a 40-50 minute drive from my home to my dorm on campus) I would shut off all media. But since I already knew I’m going to cheat I figured I should at least try and go as long as possible before breaking down. I went until the first commercial break (probably about a mile from my house), and then turned the volume all the way down.

I drive a 95 Tahoe so when I’m driving through neighborhoods and such it is loud as I constantly have to slow down then re-accelerate, so that was the first thing I noticed, but then I got on the highway and things quieted down. I didn’t have any real urge to turn the radio back on (I wanted to listen to something but I wasn’t compelled to abandon the exercise), and I had a nice drive making my way from Lilburn (Go Parkview!) to Kennesaw. I brought my stuff into my dorm and then headed down to the commons. Now this is where I typically get my music and podcasts in, walking to class or to the commons and listening to my Zune (yes I have a Zune). Unless I see someone I know I tend to sit alone and eat listening to my afformentioned Zune, today that wasn’t an option so instead I had to listen to the sounds around me. I only had 30 minutes before class so its not like I was there for long, mid-way through a friend of mine showed up (we used to go to the same church, and became friends through the youth group), this definitely helped the time pass.

He mentioned that he had recently gotten Borderlands (a video game) and had really been enjoying playing it. This was unprovoked but it had been a trend of our recent conversations to mention what video games we were playing at the time. We caught up some and made plans to try and meet for lunch on Mondays and Wednesdays (that’s when our schedules allowed for it).

I arrived at my first class and got out my PC, I opened Internet Explorer but immediately closed the MSN page (the home page for my IE), and only used the web to access GeorgiaView Vista. I did the same thing for my second class which starts almost immediately after my first.

Typically on Mondays and Wednesday I head for the commons following my second class (which ends at 3:15) grab a bite to eat and play on the computer to pass the time between before my last class which starts at 5. Today we don’t have that class so there was a lot less urge to access the various forms of media and instead I had a snack to tide me over until supper and then left. It was a long walk back to my dorm room but it wasn’t too bad, despite not having my usual entertainment in my ears.

When I got back to my dorm, I once again booted up the PC and got online, though it was strictly for school work, I posted some blog entries that I had not yet gotten around to posting and added a post for the Scavenger Hunt assignment (trying to get the numbers to format right was a pain but I eventually got it).

Now I’m just killing time before 8:00 PM, that’s when I end my experience without media, I chose to do this for a number of reasons.

  • First, boredom! I’m all for taking a day to relax and get away from it all every once and awhile but I consider reading a book (occasionally of the comic variety) relaxing, and getting away from it all. I love me some TV and Video Games, but I understand that they aren’t the most active experiences, when I would go to a cabin in the mountains with my family we’d make a point not to have the TV on as much as it is when we are at home, and though we had plenty of magnificent views in the various places we have stayed over the years, they are often enhanced by the addition of a good story. People tend to want to “unplug” themselves for a day and when they do that they tend to read a book. I think we can be more productive by unplugging ourselves from time to time but I feel cutting ourselves from media altogether accomplishes nothing. Obviously this experience is about seeing how much media we consume and are inundated with every day and not about trying to be more productive but there is only so much time I can stand to be without something as enjoyable as a book.
  • Second, I think I’ve already gotten the idea of the experience, I realized how much media plays a role in my life, and realized that there are times when I engage in various forms of media automatically. I turn the TV on and continue to watch it even when there is nothing on that excites me, I listen to music on the way to and from class no matter what (not that I would benefit from hearing the sounds of KSU, but I never even consider that option unless my Zune needs to be charged).
  • Third, Football! Monday Night Football is not a thing for me as it is to some, ESPN and ABC (back when it was on ABC) always billed it as the thing people look forward to all week, and that it was a must see. The problem with that is that I don’t like Mondays, and 75% of the time I could care less about the two teams playing in the game. I watch football on Sundays regardless of the matchup but I won’t do the same on a weekday night unless I care about the teams. This Monday the Broncos and Peyton Manning visit the Falcons, and being a resident of Atlanta I do cheer for the Falcons when it doesn’t conflict with my Packers’ best interests, additionally I think Peyton Manning is a stand-up guy, he is one of the best to ever play the position and it is virtually impossible not to like him as a person (there’s a reason he’s been in so many commercial campaigns). Next week I’ll also watch as the Packers play on Monday night, but after that I will likely be sticking to How I Met Your Mother followed by a schedule of shows yet to be determined.

I don’t think our increasing relationship with media as a society is a bad thing, I do think the content of the media can be a negative thing. TV isn’t bad, it can entertain as well as inform, but it can also be used to watch pointless shows (reality tv). The internet has much upside and if you are responsible very little downside, though one can definitely get into a lot of trouble if they don’t limit their time online. Ultimately it’s about how you approach media not the media itself.

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