Reflection

Reflection

Now I have never thought of myself as media junkie. I was never the kid growing up who would spend hours on end in front of the television watching cartoons or playing computer games. I have always been pretty active in terms of lifestyle and choices. That being said, I believe that as I have grown with media and it’s developments, that I have used its applications as tools to benefit my life and passions. Society uses media in practically every aspect of our world. It would be unrealistic to say that society should stop certain media uses all together, but instead find a healthy balance. As we discussed, Thompson said the limitations and inability to use media helps us establish our relationship with media and its effect on our own identity. I truly believe social media is a beneficial aspect of technology that brings people together to thrive. But we must all remember there is real life past social media. This challenge was much more difficult that I expected, and it helped me revaluate certain media relationships I had with myself, and my dependences on them. Through my New Media Diet Project and testing I was able to evaluate my media use, and found that I do not rely on media for my own identity, although to escape the idea of a media identity is impossible and irresponsible; additionally I discovered that my media use has a direct correlation to my personal connections, and relationships.

First I will say this media fast could have not have come at a better time because my school workload and other responsibilities tripled during the week, and not having any distractions of social media definitely helped me focus. Because I wasn’t mindlessly scrolling through my phone every spare moment I had free, I became more conscious of my surroundings, which allowed me to explore different ways to fill that time. I people watched on the train, surveyed the wonderful city of Chicago on the shuttle rides home, and one afternoon when I literally had no work to do in-between a large break of classes, I walked around an area of downtown Chicago I had never explored. One thing students can all agree on is that students’ lives can get pretty stressful at times, and it was nice to just have time to myself and decompress. I also found myself becoming much more organized, I wrote in my planner each day what I wished to accomplish for the day. I really enjoyed the freeing feeling I felt during my media fast. I was curious if I was ever going to feel bored, or worse cheat and check instagram or twitter, but I didn’t. For example my fast was during Paris Fashion Week and initially I was kind of bummed I wouldn’t be able to go on instagram or pinterest to keep up with my favorite designers, models, bloggers and etc. Instead I reached out to other outlets to get my PFW fix. I ended up finding some really cool bloggers and fashion cites I wouldn’t have found otherwise. I realized I made excuses for myself using social media as an outlet for my passions (food, fashion, travel, etc.). I found that I was actually limiting myself and not using media as a way to expand my passions.

Before my New Media Project I have never really thought about my personal media identity, and I have never used it to evaluate my actual personal identity. I began to think of my media use when I was abroad. Since my phone didn’t work in Italy, I only used it over wifi to login onto facebook to connect with people in America and for instagram. Now I believe instagram has turned into a popularity contest of who posts the coolest picture, the amount most likes, and followers one has. It has become a social hierarchy. I never really thought about these aspects myself until a comment my friend made, “Wow that is so embarrassing she only got 20 likes in one hour, I would delete that if I was her.” This shocked me, because I never really thought about how others perceived my instagram or social media identity. Now I’m not going to lie….. When I was in Europe I instagramed a lot, at least a photo a week, photos that I thought were cool and wanted to share with people back home. After posting I would get a pretty large amount of likes and comments. Now after returning back to America, my postings have definitely decreased and so have my likes. It is interesting to see that my location affected who and how many people like a posts. As well, I am kind of embarrassed to say, I have deleted a post that didn’t get that many likes, or haven’t instagramed something I thought was cool because I didn’t think it would get that many likes. In class we talked about “The Web Means the End of Forgetting” by Jeffery Rosen who argued that media has created an identity crisis for many. People are now reinventing themselves and portraying themselves differently on social media. This idea also may suggest that people are not being as real or as truthful about themselves. This idea and topic got me to look at how social media affects the way others see me, and how I see myself.

Although I don’t think I rely on social media for my identity I think it is impossible for us to escape. I agree with RushKoff that we must create strict sense of identity and post with responsibility and intent because everything put on the net is there forever. Our society, including myself, uses social media for a great deal of our communication. During my testing I was tagged in two posts on intsagram, friends sent me facebook messages, I missed posts about sorority events, and a group message for a school project was created, all which I had no way of knowing or checking while I was fasting. I quickly responded to all after logging back on. Because I wasn’t using social media I became complete out of touch with certain aspects of my life. For example there was a posting on facebook about a location change for an event. I had no idea so I showed up at the wrong place. Many aspects of my life use facebook and other social medias as crucial ways to contact and update people on events so on. Another irritating portion of my fast was my inability to network. In the past couple weeks I have been trying to find a job and used LinkedIn a lot to network and find opportunities in my area, but not having access to this media inhibited this. As well during my fast I missed a post on an instgram account of a brand I love and follow, that they are hiring in the Chicago area. Therefore I found my media fast benefited my productivity because I didn’t have distractions, but also hurt it because I didn’t have access to many different medians I needed.

A major aspect I learned through my media diet was how much I relied on social media for the solidification and connection of relationships. The main reason I love social media so much is because it makes me feel connected and closer to people and their activities even if they are halfway around the world or haven’t spoken in a while. Rushkoff said, “Friendships, both digital and incarnate, do create value,” (Rushkoff 104). My friends and family are immensely important to me and I have a lot of them. Friends from school, work, study abroad, home, and family who live all over, and it is nice to see what’s going on in there lives. Now I know many may argue that if you really care enough you should reach out to the person, but lets be real, sometimes life gets hectic and we get lose touch with people we care about. Social media makes it so much easier for me to feel connected to my best friend who I don’t see if often, because she posted a instagram of herself at Oktoberfest so I know at least where she is and what’s she is doing.

After this media diet I did learn another valuable lesson, that social media should never be an excuse for not reaching out to someone. I have an unhealthy relationship with mistaking posts, and likes to valuable connections. “The contact isn’t the message, the contact is,” (Rushkoff 105). Rushkoff’s statement about social media initially agreed with me but after testing I had a change of opinion. In my field notes I talked about how much I loved snapchat because sends the person a quick little picture of themselves or whatever their doing at that time, but after my media diet I came to the conclusion that it really has no meaning. A snapchat isn’t the same as picking up and calling someone or sending a quick text. After my testing I realized that I wasn’t receiving as many snap chats as I was sending. Another part of my media diet was to call five people during the week that I haven’t spoken to in a while, and turn on my read receipts to improve my texting response time. Although I only called three people during the testing I believe it really helped me feel more connected. For the most part, when you are talking to someone on the phone you guys have each others full attention, you are understanding tone of voice and feelings which you may have otherwise wouldn’t had understood in a text. Although calling isn’t as convenient as sending a text, I really plan to continue this trend as after speaking to each of the person I called I felt much for connected.

Another quick side note I would like to mention is the activity on my Media Diet blog. I was pretty surprised to find one day that I had comments, likes, and even follows from other user who read by blog. I almost forgot that this blog was in the actual media world and not just our class. Although some of the followers and comments were spam, I actually got an interesting comment from a reader. “Thanks for sharing your unique perspective on life (one that likely less than 10% Americans ever experience).” I’m unsure if he was interested, trying to be cynical, making fun of me, or all three. But it made me think, the use of media in my everyday life seems normal and essential to the way I live, but for the majority of the world this concept is not. I forget sometimes that it is a privilege to be able to use media so frequently and effectively.

After analyzing my media use before and after effects, I discovered that I take the easy way out most of the time because social media is so simple and requires the least amount of effort on my end. I came to the conclusion that I do not use media to its full potential and need to expand and explore my media horizons. I have realized that I need to set a healthy balance between my media connections and real life connections.

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Test

The Test

Day two of my media fast I completely forgot about the fast, and automatic logged onto facebook as soon as I opened my laptop, it was almost like an unconscious routine of my day.

Without the access of facebook I felt like I had no idea what was going on in my sorority. I relied on friends telling me what was going on. I missed signing up for particular fraternity event, and I was unaware of a location change of an event so I showed up at the wrong place for the event!

During times of transportation I was surprised to see how unaffected I was to not using social media as a time waster. Instead I resorted to listening and exploring different music on Spotify. As well I felt I became more in tune of what was going on around me, (literally, meaning I was people watching on the bus and CTA etc.) I began going on CNN, Style.com (It is Paris Fashion Week and without the use of Pintrest and instagram I missed out on the street style and runway looks), blogs, and Refinary29 on my commute. Basically I found other ways to entertain myself. I even started playing candy crush, which I never play. I’m not sure if any of these are actually more beneficial than what I was doing before. Although In conversations I felt much more present because the person I was talking to was my only focus.

After turning on my read receipts, I was much more aware of my response times. As well I would get annoyed when people didn’t respond to my messages quickly. As far as trying to call five people a week….. I called three, which isn’t too shabby considering this week I have been swamped. I called my mom (who I actually don’t talk to on the phone very often) cleared up some things that could have been misconstrued through texting. I called a good friend from home, it was nice to hear to her voice and tone in the way she spoke to me, however, I felt like our conversation was a bit rushed since she was with a group of her friend (I wonder if we would have been able to talk more, or feel more connected through texting each other). Lastly I spoke to a sorority sister who I actually see on a regular basis, but had some time to kill and felt like aimless conversation.

The one social media app I miss the most…… SnapChat!! I felt very unconnected to people I normal snap chat on a regular basis aka people I don’t see everyday.

Testing is still going strong!

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Summary

Summary

These past couple weeks of analyzing my media use, something that happens so frequently and without much thought, was quite eye opening. I never really thought of myself as a person that was very dependant on my iphone or the internet. When I studied in Rome for 4 months I only used my phone for taking pictures and it was actually freeing, I wasn’t constantly looking at my phone, checking social media, texting, and it then forced me to really explore, and learn how to use a real map! This assignment really made me miss that freeing feeling, and made be evaluate what is important to me.

Through this assignment I found out, to my surprise, that I am actually in fact dependent on media. My biggest problem I realized is I need to be engaged with something at all times. I need to be constantly “doing,” I really don’t know how to “just be.” Students are incredibly busy with class, work, studying, extracurriculars, daily chores, and trying to have a social life. It is really important to take time to oneself to just relax and detox. This is one of the important lessons I have already taken from this assignment. I found that I use media most during my boredom, transportation, and in the evening right before going to bed.

My analysis helped me discover that it is really important to me that my friendships and relationships are maintained. I use twitter, instagram, or snapchat to feel up to date with what is happening in my friends and families lives. I have friends from all over and it really hard for us to keep up to date sometimes. I can just log onto one of their social medias and figure out what they have been up to. For example my best friend is studying abroad in France and through her instagram I can see what country she is visiting. And lets be honest sending a quick snap chat of yourself at a Cubs game to a friend from home is much easier than sending a text. Same goes with other social networking, liking someone’s status update about their new job creates acknowledgement for you both, and creates a feeling that you are aware and care about what’s going on in each other lives. Although social networking is a great tool for keeping in contact, this assignment made me want to pick up the phone instead of just a “Liking.”

I use media to pursue my interests in fashion, film, travel, and food. I follow editors, designers, bloggers, models, and photographers on social media, which gives me interesting content I am highly interested in. As I realized during my field notes that I’m kind of a social media snob…. I only really like or favorite posts that I thought were interesting, even my family and best friends. I see instagram as area of artistic expression. We are not all photographers but I appreciate some artistic and unique accents. If it’s boring or doesn’t catch my eye I’m not going to like it. The idea of likes still confuse me, user will use likes to evaluate their popularity. Why does it matter is someone didn’t like your picture our not?

An aspect of media that truly frustrates me is when users over share. When users tweet, facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tweet, Yik Yak, etc. about every little thing they are doing in their lives, it’s too much. The media world does not need to know what you ate for brunch every single weekend. I think our society needs to put down the instagram; stop worry about likes and actually enjoy life. If you’re worried about your instagram likes you are clearly not enjoying yourself. I think the key to this problem and to this assignment is everything in moderation. Media cannot and should not control our lives.

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