Slowing down for the media fast
An interview with PHIL 210 students abstaining from TV, movies, social media, and texting...all semester.
MARS’ HILL: What prompted you to commit to the media fast this semester?
LOGAN PAULGAARD: For me, this media fast came to be out of a desire to earn extra marks, a longing for freedom primarily from texting and Facebook, as well as the anxiety that arose from the challenge. To expand on that last point, I realized before the fast that I relied more heavily on media than I wanted to admit. The thought of not having that tool to rely on worried me, which ultimately indicated to me that I needed this fast.
ERIK DELANGE: I am naturally disposed to dislike social media. I was the last of my peers to get a cell phone and when I finally did, I became so anxious with being contactable 24/7, feeling guilty about not texting everyone back immediately, checking it compulsively. Needless to say, I got rid of it soon after. I have a critical eye for things and have rather dystopian ideas about what a technophillic future could hold for us. I’m the type who thinks romantically about new monasticism and feels possessions like weight on my shoulders.
ALLICIA LUCK: Originally I decided to do the fast only because I wanted the bonus marks that we get from doing it for our class. I knew philosophy would be difficult to understand and wanted to make sure I could do as well as possible. I have been so blessed by the experience.
MH: What things have been the most difficult to live without?
LP: It actually hasn’t been all that hard. I came closest to texting someone when I wanted to text Translink, so I could find out when the bus came. Having said that, what’s made it easier is that I’ve set my phone so that it no longer updates me when I receive texts. Probably the most difficult thing has been that my family usually watches a movie together on Sunday nights, so I haven’t been able to be a part of that. This has pushed us to do things where we’re personally engaging with one another.
ED: The most difficult part of the fast to stick with has definitely been Twitter. I have all these amusing and insightful thoughts buzzing about my brain with nowhere to post them. No Facebook or YouTube is a breath of fresh air, lots more free time. Without my time-wasters (ie. Netflix) I’ve been forced to go for a walk or actually deal with my problems, which has proven both difficult and incredibly rewarding. One night, in a fit of sulkiness, with nothing to waste my time with, I channeled all my energy and wrote a play. It was much more than 140 characters, and far more rewarding.
MH: What kind of changes have you noticed, if any?
LP: I now feel better about how I use my time. I also noticed that the pool of people that I have connections with has shrunk, but the interactions are at a deeper level now. I am more comfortable phoning people – you’d be surprised how many people don’t answer their cell phone. That’s what they’re for: phoning. I noticed that now, whenever I turn on the radio, I am more appalled by the hyper-sexual lyrics.
MH: Do you think this will affect how you use media in the future?
LP: I was talking about this with my mentor last night, and I realized that I want to make this fast a more permanent part of my life, but I fear people will be annoyed with me if I do; as though I’m inconveniencing people by not texting.
ED: This fast will definitely affect how I use media in the future. I’ve gained an outside perspective to just how zombie-like it is to sit around and stare at mindless sitcoms for hours on end. I hope to keep off Facebook as much as possible, but I can’t wait to post all of this insight to Tumblr.
MH: How do you see technology continuing to affect our future?
AL: I am in the education program so even just in that setting there are a lot of implications. I think society-wise the major problems are isolation and obesity. Social media promotes isolation and a lot of time in which one is not active. One can spend countless hours watching TV alone, and this promotes the idea of being a couch potato. Educationally, it will create social rifts in the classroom. It also stifles imagination and fosters a fear of getting dirty or getting hurt. I think a childhood filled with appreciation for God’s creation is a good one.
ED: Video games have replaced imagination, TVs on the wall have replaced artwork, movies have replaced books. Kids are learning to tap on a touch screen before they learn to speak. All of these things have a devastating impact on society. I think we all ought to be incredibly critical of the technology we depend on and see if we can do with as little of it as possible.
LP: In the 13th century the Imitatio Christi took place, where a number of Christians who were surrounded by excessive wealth became fed-up and gave their possessions away to follow their faith. I think we’ll come to that point eventually with media, where we become sick of the self-glorifying messages and the excesses that we’ll give it up. I think things like this media fast are part of that revolution.