Weekly Total: 78h39min
Internet use, social media and/or apps on phone: 4h51min (291min)
Music (voluntary): 21h07min (1267min)
Music (involuntary): 30h40min (1840min)
Reading textbooks: 8h05min (485min)
TV/film: 10h50min (650min)
Videoclips (involuntary): 1h20min (80min)
Internet use on computer: 1h40min (100min)
Reading junk mail: 6min (6min)
After doing this mediation exercise for a week, I feel like I did after another class that required me to take note of all the food I ate (including calories, place of origin, who I ate with, where I was, at what time etc); exhausted and painfully conscious. For me, this sort of proved what I already knew in the back of my mind but didn’t really want to admit; the media is ruling my life!! Well, it has a huge part in it anyways, and definitely a bigger part than it probably should.. However, this is the way my life has looked for as long as I can remember, the only thing that has probably changed for me, is the category that deals with using my phone. Ten years ago I could use it to surf in a limited capacity, but mostly it was just for texting and actually phoning people. Today I use the phone for surfing, texting, checking email, shopping, transferring money, looking at videoclips, listening to music, checking the weather, reading books, newspapers and magazines on apps, and also as a calculator, camera and health coach. And when the phone actually rings maybe once a week, I freak out and usually get someone else to answer the call for me, or just ignore the call (thinking that if it’s something important, they’ll text me later, or “why don’t they just text or email me like normal people?!”). However, for the past few months I have drastically reduced my phone usage from what it used to be; instead of checking all my social media apps every few minutes or so, I now basically look at them once a week (except Twitter, I love Twitter) and spend most of my time just checking my email or surfing. The change for me came when I saw the video Look Up – if you haven’t seen it yet, watch it. It really got to me, and I decided that bending my head over a tiny screen looking at what other people had written/done/seen/experienced was not worth my time when I could do those things myself. Out of my ~78h of media this week, only 4h51min (6%) came from using my phone for internet, social media and apps, but if I had carried out this media log last Spring, that number would have been drastically different, I’m sure.
The media I spent most on my time on was, unsurprisingly to me, music. In total 51h47min (66%) out of my weekly media total of 78h39min was spent listening to music. However, I also decided to split it into two different categories; voluntary (when I turned it on/off) and involuntary (when someone else controlled it), and as it turned out, ~21h (27%) was voluntary and ~30h (39%) was involuntary, like for example working a shift for 7h at the campus bookstore with the radio on in the background. The music that I listen to comes exclusively from downloaded or ripped CD’s, meaning its free of ads, while the music I listen to involuntarily is often from radios that does play ads, or from a source like Pandora that my roommates play at home, which also includes ads. I think that because I never really paid much attention to the music/radio that wasn’t of my choice, I never thought much about it, of how it could influence me etc, but when I now actually had to keep track of it, I was very surprised that it was the most common media I was exposed to!? I should definitely be more aware of how it can impact my life, and maybe even more so that any other media because it’s out of my control… After music, the next most common media I was exposed to was even more unsurprisingly to me, TV and film. If this media log had been conducted a few weeks later when all the shows I like will return for a new season, this number would’ve been significantly higher. However, since I’m a film studies major, a lot of my homework consists of watching films, and very often we also watch parts of movies or whole movies in class too, so for me, watching film is both educational and entertaining, but nonetheless influencing no matter the reason why I came to watch it.
I think that the most valuable insight that I have gained from this exercise is the realisation that media is everywhere in my life, and even though I sometimes take it for granted or don’t really think that it’s doing any harm to me, I really should be more critical to it. In average, I was mediated 11h14min per day, and in average I am awake 15h per day, meaning that during almost all day, I’m being exposed to media, and sometimes not even by my choice nor during under my control. That is what got to me the most, that the media around me is not as controllable or based on my decisions as I would’ve liked it to be. Basically, whatever I’m doing – wherever I might be, the media will be there too, influencing and impacting my life unconsciously. And I’m letting it. Maybe that’s the scariest part of it all, that I’m so used to it by now that I don’t even question it nor think it is wrong at all, it’s just as much part of my daily life as eating and sleeping. I am constantly surprised by what I’m learning in this class (and only four weeks in?!) about the world I’m living in – learning and understanding things that I’ve never thought about before – and now I feel like I’m being awakened from a deep media-slumber and finally seeing how HUGE it’s influence is (and has been) in my life. Exhausted indeed!
(Originally posted on 2014/09/28 for Melanie Klein’s class blog “Women and Popular Culture”)