Consider life without devices – Wilmington News Journal
WILMINGTON — A popular meme featuring celebrity Ben Affleck, who appears to look defeated, reads: “When you realize 2022 is also pronounced 2020” has been credited with capturing the essence of the past year. Granted, we’ve returned to some semblance of “normal” since the COVID-19 pandemic-related shutdowns and quarantines eased. And yet, we still find ourselves dealing with the consequences and the apparent increased reliance on technology.
To reflect on this, Dr. Audrey Wagstaff, professor of social sciences and communication arts at Wilmington College, continues to require a 24-hour “media exclusion project” in her course on mass media in a global society. For a period of 24 hours, students are asked to refrain from using the media – or at least the use of mobile phones – to record their experience and write a reflection to connect the important concepts of the course to their observations.
“This is an incredibly poignant time to engage in conscious media exclusion,” Wagstaff said. “In many ways COVID killed Snow Day and it provided alternatives to calling in sick. Now, if the roads are slippery or you have a head cold, forget about staying in bed. You’re supposed to log into Zoom and do your work anyway. Zoom used to be a noun, but now it’s a verb meaning “get back to work”. We are now even more dependent on the media to connect.
“Students need to be all the more careful in planning their exclusion from the media because they have classes to attend and chat room posts to make. There really is no escape,” she added. “It’s no surprise that students are thinking about this.”
Many students chose to exclude the media during the Thanksgiving holiday, thinking it would be easier to pass the time in the company of others and without worrying about homework or exams.
“I played games with my little sister,” wrote one student, while another indulged in a four-hour game of UNO.
However, being the only one without a device on vacation also presented its own challenges. As one student wrote, “It was really hard because I did it on Thanksgiving, and people were trying to show me pictures of their kids, and I was like, ‘No! Get away from me. “
Other students felt increasingly isolated during this time.
“What I found most difficult was that surrounding people continued to use their ability to access media, which is when I craved my technology.” And another said: ‘I noticed how lonely I felt even though I was surrounded by my family because they were all on the phone.
Students also note how the exclusion has allowed them to be more productive and attentive. Many were able to work overtime, deep clean their rooms, and one even re-read the classic novel Fahrenheit 451.
As one student noted, “Even before I started this project, I knew mindfulness would be a challenge for me. Prior to this course, I was familiar with the term from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) counseling… Our DBT manager often emphasized the importance of being singularly focused on one task, that no one is truly capable of multi-tasking at a time and what we can do is move very quickly from one task to another.
Some students also reflected on their own sense of privacy, with some acknowledging how much their [social] the use of the media produces them.
As one student wrote, “As rewarding as YouTube, Instagram and Tik Tok are, I’ve had my share of social media disappointments. I guess that’s where some of my anxiety and stress comes from. Due to people’s ability to comment or share, I have left myself open to some bullying… Unfortunately, you give up certain rights when you put any type of personal information on any social media platform.
Another student pointed out that sharing everything through the media is not necessarily the means to gratification, writing “I am responsible for my own appreciation of myself, and I don’t need an audience hidden behind a screen to make me feel seen.”
Others noted that they felt justified in withholding personal information for a day.
“That ban day was the only day I felt completely deprived in a very long time. Google and Facebook couldn’t capture any analytics of the articles and posts I spent time reading. YouTube didn’t have anything been able to suggest based on my recent viewing history. My thoughts were apparently my own, with no way for apps to access them (yet!). The book I decided to read to pass the time couldn’t tell the editor how many pages I had read, or how many times I fell asleep doing it. At the end of the day, my apps were begging me to come back to it, a point made evident by one of my mobile games sending me a notification that night that said, “Your fleet needs you! I found it somewhat empowering to deprive apps of their precious data: the keystrokes you capture, screen time, engagement with posts and articles s that they think would interest me. At least for a day I made them guess what I was up to instead of being completely transparent to them through my interactions with digital media.
Finally, a universal theme emerged as students considered life with – and without – their devices.
“It’s often the most common and compelling theme that emerges,” Wagstaff said. “Considering life without your device and then going through a day without it is very daunting. And most students come away from the experience with a better understanding of their dependence on their devices, even if they never want to be separated from them again. »
One student wrote: “We depend on our phones for just about everything… Addiction stems from addiction and the more apps that appear to help with daily life tasks, the more we depend on our phones and the addiction is sure to follow. I was researching cell phone addiction, and a message popped up asking if I or someone I know suffered from addiction.
Other students are finding new independence and the confidence that they can live without their devices.
As one student said, “I don’t need technology as much as I think I do. I can do basic math without it.
Another concluded: “Overall I think the media blackout day was easy because I try not to be on my phone all the time. I enjoyed the day, and it really opened my eyes a bit more to the negative effects our phones alone can have on us as humans. If I want us to take anything away from this paper, I want it to be the media that affects us badly, but that’s fine in moderation. Look up and open your eyes.
“From an old soul to you, the world is beautiful, so look at it. Don’t look at the pictures of the world, go out and find where the pictures were taken!
The image of eyes glued to smartphones is a familiar site in today’s society for people of all ages.