I’ll be there for you… when the media black is over

Remember the TV series Friends? Monica and Chandler, Joey and Phoebe and Ross and Rachel all getting into situations and then gathering at Central Perk to talk. We’ll here’s The Nerdist’s take on how Friends would look like if it were set in today’s time.

I wonder if they would use Instagram or Snap Chat to take pictures of the ugly naked guy who lived in the apartment across the street?

Okay, Friends Rebooted is a bit of an extreme example. But, now that you’ve completed your Media Diary Discussion you have a better idea of how media permeates your life.   Now it’s time to take the next step.  Cut yourself off from media for 24 hours.  Yup.  Let me repeat that.  Cut yourself off from media for 24 hours.  No texting, no television, no music, no Snap Chat, no social media for 24 hours.  It sounds extreme, but students say it’s one of the most eye-opening assignments they’ve had in their college career.

Actually, this will be more of a media brown out.  We can’t take you out of the game for your other classes and your job so…

  • You may use media required for other classes, such as textbooks and Canvas
  • You may use media required for your job, but limit it to just what is required for your job
  • You may use your telephone (voice only)
  • You may check your email

WARNING: Make sure to let your friends and family know you are going to be incommunicado for 24 hours.  When Steve Woodward’s class first did this assignment some parents panicked because their children didn’t post on Facebook, sent a text, etc. This generated a fear that their child or loved-one was dead on the side of the road.

People have had media blackouts forced on them and managed to live through it.  Jodi Katzman, a blogger for the Huffington Post, had a media blackout imposed on her when her cell phone, her television and her computer died all at the same time.  This cold turkey cut from media had her freaked out a bit.  Here’s how she felt in the beginning.

It was unsettling at first. I felt lost. Was it possible I was moving in slow-mo? I wondered what was going on in the world and what I was missing. I felt as if I’d traveled back to the Stone Age. Everywhere I looked I faced a shiny black screen reflecting nothing but my own image. I waited for those alerts, chirps, beeps and buzzes, and that seductive white-blue glow to signal a message… but they didn’t arrive. (Links to an external site.)

Katzman’s media blackout went on for seven days.  Once she got past the media withdrawl she discovered how much time she had.

I took in the solitude while waiting for a pal for lunch. I enjoyed debating trivia with friends, without robotically searching for facts from the palm of my hand. Inconvenient, yes, but also authentic and freeing. I made the most of this unplanned time by filling it with social activities.

Assignment details:

  • Cut yourself off from media for a 24 hour period.  Give it your best shot. Even if you find yourself using media, stop, then continue for the 24 hour period.
  • When it is over upload a 3-5 minute video describing your experience.  For more information on how to upload videos to Canvas go to: https://community.canvaslms.com/videos/1121 (Links to an external site.)
    • Describe what you substituted for the missing media.
    • What changes did you go through during the blackout?
    • Did you blow it at one time and accidentally use media?
    • Has this experience changed the way you look at the media influence on your life?
    • Any other thoughts or observations that come to mind.
    • You’ll be evaluated on the quality of your observations.  (If you feel your video doesn’t address all the evaluation criteria, you can always add comments to your video in the discussion group.)
  • Upload your post to this discussion page on or before noon, Wednesday, July 18.
  • Post at least two substantive comments to your teammates’ posts. You will be assigned two group members to respond to.  Your comments need to be posted before Sunday, July 22 at 11:59 p.m.

Evaluation Criteria

  • This assignment is worth 50 points
  • 20 of those points will focus on how well you describe your experience
  • 20 of those points will focus on how well you describe how you felt during the 24-hour period and what you learned from it
  • 10 of those points will focus on the substantive comments you make in response to your teammates’ posts.  You will be assigned two class mates’ to respond to.  Your comments need to be posted before Sunday, July 22 at 11:59 p.m.

I’m going to take the challenge as well. The question is, when? I can’t really do it on a teaching day, but do I want to spend 24 hours of my weekend depriving myself of media?

Good luck everyone! And REMEMBER to tell friends and family when you are about to go into your media lock down.


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