Media Liberation

So I have this new obsession that feeds my love of public radio and podcasts. It’s an app on my phone called Public Radio Remix, which is like Pandora for public radio. It’s a great mix of stories from all sorts of public radio shows and podcasts. It has helped me discover some lesser known productions that are really really good. One episode came up the other day from the podcast “Happy” that discussed our heavy reliance on media, especially smart phones and iPads. The host interviewed a man and wife who went on a media “fast” for a month. The results were both what I expected and surprising.

Both people talked about feeling mentally free. Without Facebook, Twitter, and email, both mentioned they felt like there was more room in their brain for creative thought. They were more productive and had more meaningful conversations with people that happened live versus in a virtual space. They felt less lonely, more happy.

All of this is what I suspected. My husband and I went on a 10 day canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness last summer and had no access to anything electronic. It was so liberating! I felt tuned in with my brain, with myself, with my wants and needs versus what society was telling me to want and need. So I could relate to what this couple was experiencing during their media fast.

What was (somewhat) surprising is what happened after the fast. They both claimed they wanted to keep using social media, internet, etc etc, but with more restraint. What happened instead is that a month later the husband bought a new iPhone and iPad and finds himself on his devices more than ever.

This got me thinking – why do we do this? Why does liberation from technology/media feel so good yet we often keep going back to the addiction of our devices? I am especially interested in this concept as I write this for a blog. Why is the technology that is supposed to help bring us together/shrink the world often leaves us feeling more alone and less happy? I wish I could end this with some profound answer. Instead I’m going to spend some time thinking about my own electronic habits and better ways to blend them with my real world habits. There’s got to be a balance, right?

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Andrea Aebersold

Andrea Aebersold

I am an English professor at Washington State University Tri-Cities, which allows me to make a living as a book nerd. When I'm not reading, I can be found cooking, cuddling my dog, or drinking wine in Walla Walla.

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  • Steve Meddaugh

    This phenomena doesn’t seem to be isolated to technology. I have done a number of cleanses where I cut things out of my diet like sugar or excess carbs and after a few weeks I always feel great. The constant cravings go away and I know the dietary changes are why I feel better. And yet… after the cleanse I find myself going right back and almost binging on carbs and sugar. Why would I do that? Maybe it’s just a part of our human nature.

  • Suzy Garza Higley

    Well I’m glad it’s not just me! It’s true. I feel better when I’m unplugged from it all. But I fall back into it. :/ just have to keep trying I guess.

  • Andrea Aebersold

    Totally can relate! Why is that great feeling not enough for us? I’m sure there’s some sort of psychological study done about this…