Monday, April 16, 2007

Media fast leads to introspection

Each year in my “Visual Communication in the Media” course at Portland Community College, I assign a “media fast” of a day or two to my students and ask them to reflect on the experience in a short paper.

The results are in from this year’s fasts, and, as in the past, they are fascinating.

The biggest change this year is that several students specifically mentioned that the medium they found easiest to let go of was television.

NOT, interestingly enough, newspapers. Not that all of them read newspapers (most get their news on-line), but those that do missed the ritual of reading the morning paper.

So here are some of the more telling comments from the written reflections:

A student who admits “the media are a huge part of everyday life” for him wrote, “I exercised much more when I didn’t have media to entertain me. The fast from media gave me a new outlook on things.”

One student. a golf fan, turned to his father to fill him in on the standings in the forbidden Master’s Tournament. That “resulted in my having a very long talk with my father, who had no such media restrictions, about what was going on in the tournament. This talk led into other areas and soon became one of the nicest I have ever had with my Dad.”

Another student said the media fast “was a chance to remember who you are as a person and (it was) a way to get back to the more important things like family, friendship and the ‘real’ you.”

One student was riding in a car with a friend who went to turn on the radio. My student stopped her, reminding her of the fast. “After that, instead of playing music or turning on the radio, we stated singing in the car.”

Later, this student, her friend and others played board games. “We played for two hours, then we got coffee and cake and we were all talking to each other. It was truly amusing.” The same student wrote, “I felt that I listened to people more than I usually do. I also talked more….”

Another wrote: “I went to the park of at least four hours and played. My senses were amazing. I felt more in touch with nature.”

Yet another wrote, “Spiritually, I started to look at how I spent my time and analyzed it. I thought about how much I am a slave to media and how I could correct the problems.”

That’s enough.

You — and they — get the picture….

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