Do you think you could give up all social media for 24 hours? To clarify, this means no Internet, reading, television, cell phone, music, movies and video games for 24 hours.
DON’T PANIC. Stay calm and read on.
For one of my mass media classes at Hofstra University, my teacher, Professor Paul Mihailidis, challenged my class to going without media. Of course, when Mihailidis presented this assignment to the class, everyone had a thousand questions and worries. Everyone was terrified.
My initial reaction to the assignment was anxiety. I had to pick a day to complete the 24 hours, and that alone was hard enough, since I need my computer for work and the television for Entourage on Sunday nights. Just thinking about what 24 hours without social media would be like, I imagined a very lonely day, and knew I would have to prearrange activities for the day so that I would avoid my beloved Blackberry.
Here was the layout for the day: play with puppies at the Northshore Animal League for at least a few hours, have a nice, long dinner with my boyfriend, and attend a college kegger at night. The rest of the 24 hours I allotted to the necessary sleep I needed to catch up on.
Since I opened up my laptop the second I announced I was beginning the assignment, I initially failed. Ugh. I restarted the assignment after my boyfriend pointed out my failed attempted to me, and for the next nine hours I did successfully avoid all media. I have to admit, however, that I did use my boyfriend and my friends to make calls for me, since not using my cell phone really was my biggest concern for the day. I mean, can most people, especially smart phone users, honestly say their phone isn’t some source of comfort and security for them? I know I’m not the only one out their who will admit to this, especially since some of my classmates claimed they failed the assignment in under ten minutes because they just could not live without their phones. What does this say about our culture and our ties to media?
In this day and age, as far as I know, it is almost unheard of for anyone over the age of 16 not to have a phone. I got my first phone at 13 and I have been an addict ever since. My elementary school introduced me to the Internet at the tender age of five, and I rely on it for most of my work and to stay connected to friends and family here and abroad. At this point, I need to say a big thank you to Facebook, Wikiepdia and Sparknotes.
Most of my classmates claimed to have felt psychological effects from the absence of media in their lives, and even my teacher admitted to having failed the assignment miserably. This makes me wonder how those in society who are not connected get by, and having once been to Tanzania, I have a general idea. Tanzanians do not spend quality family time sitting in front of the television, nor do they BBM their friends during school to tell them how boring class is. Media has become a key part in our lives in our society, and maybe we need to think about some of the things we’re missing out on; closer ties with friends and family, deeper conversations, more productivity, and much needed sleep.
But let’s be real, once you go Blackberry, you never go back, and sorry, but Entourage is on. I got to watch!
Although we know the web connects the whole world, most of us end up connecting mainly with people similar to ourselves. In this video, blogger and geek Ethan Zuckerman shares his desire to link the whole of the wider world, using smart tactics to open up your Twitter world and read news in various languages.
Ethan Zuckerman is an activist and blogger, living in Western Massachusetts and working in Cambridge as a research fellow at the Berkman Center. As co-founder of Global Voices, Zuckerman says, "I'm interested in ways that citizen's media can address longstanding biases in the news media."
Rebecca MacKinnon and Zuckerman founded Global Voices in 2005 when they were both fellows at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. "Initially," says Zuckerman, "we'd planned to build an aggregator of blogs from around the developing world, based on my interest in Africa and her focus on China. As more people got involved with the project, it's become something much larger and more exciting: a global community of citizen media authors, an advocacy group that works to preserve freedom of speech online, a media development organization that promotes participatory media in developing nations, a vast and distributed translation project, and a crazy set of friends from every corner of the world. It's been a joy to be involved with and is one of the projects I'm proudest of."