In one of my freshman year classes, we were given a choice. For an assignment, the students could either write a 5-page research paper, or do a 24-hour media fast and write a 2-page paper about the experience instead. I was taken aback when I heard many of my classmates say the same thing: “A media fast? Screw that. I’ll die without my smartphone.” While everyone else slaved away on their 5-page papers, I took a relaxing day off from the Internet, iTunes, TV news, and texting. I felt so productive it freaked me out a little.
Digital media is awesome. I’m a big fan of social media, blogs, and my iPod just like everyone else. But have we really gotten to the point where we’ll “die without our smartphone”? When I commute in the morning, I like to count how many people are absorbed in their technology, be it phones, mp3 players, iPads, or whatever else. Usually the count is 70% – 90% of the commuters (most of the time myself included). Are we all too bored or insecure in our own brains that we need constant distraction with electronic toys?
I challenge you all to a 24-hour media fast. Pick a day (weekend is probably easiest), and unplug from all your digital devices. What will you accomplish when you’re not distracting yourself? Will you tackle the mountain of laundry piled up in the corner? Will you pick up that book on your nightstand that you “always mean to finish” but haven’t? Will you let your thoughts wander and have a delicious daydream about nothing in particular? Only one way to find out!
Think you’re up for it? It’s only 24 hours! And I can guarantee you will not die without your smartphone.
Image courtesy of Flickr user las – initially