Mediafast

One of the fun parts of blogging is keeping up to date with all the latest trends affecting your chosen field (or any other field that you happen to be obsessed about). Whether you watched last night’s History Channel show on Teotihuacan or slogged through another episode of Deal or No Deal, you can almost always glean something blog-worthy from the media that surrounds you every day.
And that can be a problem.
There’s a certain rush we get from watching the news and staying connected. I’ve managed to get this far without a Blackberry attached to my pelvis. The 24 hour news cycle joins with the 24 hour email cycle and the 24 hour blogosphere and the 24 hour stock market and before you know it there isn’t much else in your brain besides news, news and more news – everything advancing one iota every hour.
Studies have shown that simple quick edits or light flashes in television programs goose our primal flight/fight response. This is called the orienting response (PDF: Television Addiction is No Mere Metaphor’). We get a little adrenal Hey, sailor! every time the screen flips visually or aurally. Fans of 24 will know what I mean. This is why we like channel surfing and explains the success of so many video games: we get to manually tweak ancestral urges that have been with us every since Homo sapiens were intelligently designed 5,000 years ago. At the same time our brains were not designed to withstand all this chemical stimulation so it tires out the glands and makes us sluggish and crave mozarella sticks.
This plugs in, I think, to the idea of urgency addiction. Why do we not get things done ahead of time? Because we like saving the day. We like coming to the rescue – even if we are just rescuing ourselves. We enjoy the entropy, the slowdown, the fermentation, the petrification because we get to put on our cape and be heroic – if only in an Outlook inbox.
And that’s why I’m doing a mediafast this week.
No channel surfing, no internet surfing, no magazine surfing – no ingestion of mass media that is usually carefully designed to make me want shit I don’t have, buy shit I don’t need and aspire to things that aren’t important. No purposeful distraction of myself. Often composers will stop listening to music in order to find the tuneful gems bubbling inside them. Writers and bloggers can do the same. The news cycle seems to be countdowns and crises, and I’ll hear the bombing sirens from downtown if they go off.
(other resources available at the TV Turnoff Week site)

3 thoughts on “Mediafast

  1. Sharon Sarmiento

    Andy–This is a great idea. I participated in TV Turnoff Week a couple years ago, and it changed the way I live. During that week I was amazed to see my anxiety go down and my outlook become more optimistic. Instead of focusing on all the shocking, terrible things that are happening in the world, abstaining from watching TV helped me focus on the wonderful things that were happening in my own little world.
    Also, when you’re not paying attention to the media, then you have to figure out other ways to spend your time. I started reading classic books that I’d always wanted to read but had never gotten around to. I also started investing more time in friends and family.
    According to Dr. Andrew Weil, watching the news commonly results in anxiety, rage and depression–emotional states that impede our body’s natural healing systems. So, if you can do a “media fast” every once in a while, then it’s like you’re doing a detox of all the negative stuff that’s been making its’ way into your brain. It’s a healthy thing to do!
    I can’t wait to hear how you feel after your media fast week!

    Reply
  2. eSoup

    Media detox…

    Sometimes it’s a good thing to cut yourself off from the constant chatter of the outside world so that you can reconnect with yourself. That’s what Andy’s doing this week with his media fast. I know it’s not easy. Cutting…

    Reply
  3. Verna

    Good for you, Andy! Don’t worry–you won’t miss much. And if something really radically new and different happens, I’ll bet a bunch of your friends will tell you. So relax, read a book, take a walk, chat with the cat, have fun.
    Verna

    Reply

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