Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Media metaphor list grows

The media metaphor list is growing again.

As reported here, yesterday, my PTA contact at a Portland elementary school decided that my January presentation should carry the title “Restraining Order: Protecting Your Child from Media Abduction.”

But the person preparing the flyer came back today with a lead that introduced a new metaphor, even as the circular retained the old title.

The draft began, “Is Your Child Becoming a Media Junkie?”

Media that invite excessive, indiscriminate use equated with drugs, abductors, “other parents.” We are building quite a list of metaphors.

Like the notion that some media are similar to “the other parent,” the idea of media as an addictive drug has been around a long time. It goes back 25 years to Marie Winn’s “Plug-in Drug,” which referred only to television. The most recent edition includes a discussion of computers.

All of the metaphors are useful in teasing out the nature of an obsessive, thoughtless relationship to media, whether we are parents, teachers or children.

The drug analogy, of course, leads us to applying language of addiction to a pathological relationship with media. It works well.

For instance, among the signs of drug addiction are these:

* Change in friends.
* Hanging out with a new group.
* Reclusive behavior - long periods spent in self-imposed isolation.
* Lying about behavior.
* Deteriorating family relationships.
* Deteriorating health.
* Changes in behavior and attitude.
* Decrease in school performance.

Some others that come to mind are denial, embarrassment, lack of moderation, secretiveness, disinterest in others and real-world responsibilities.

I’m beginning to think that I may get the parents' discussion going by sharing the several metaphors of excessive media consumption with attendees — abduction, addiction, a competing parent.

Which is most apt? Which is most helpful in directing us to solutions? What are those solutions?

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