I remember first trying to explain to my family what my day without media would consist of, what I’d be giving up. I tried to explain to them that literally, everything is media. The spines of my books in my room are media. What about the coca cola symbol on your shirt? Also media. That bumper sticker that made you giggle on the way to school. Yep, once again media. I’d like to preface me explaining my day without media by saying that it is quite certainly impossible. Nonetheless, I tackled the challenge and was curious to see what the day would bring forth. I woke up at 7 AM by my phone. And that was the last interaction I had with my phone until the next morning. I started my day by of course taking a shower and at 7:30 I got in the vehicle to ride to Mountain View, my hometown. I laid in the back seat and waited to fall asleep so I could have two hours of peace until I went into Church.
I woke up upon pulling into the parking lot. I had made it three hours without media. I left my backpack in the vehicle which contained my dead iPad, my sleeping phone, and my neglected book. Since I’d be going with my mom and dad that afternoon that was the goodbye to my typical media right until that night. I was relieved because I didn’t have to worry about the temptation. Luckily my church is old fashioned with no giant TV screens or any other media forced upon us. Of course, we have the hymnals, which I avoided, and bibles in each of the pews. I left my Bible in the car as well, figured I’d want to avoid it too. I made it through church pretty easily, no one tried to force me to look at their phone or read a random book or anything. That was two more hours I had conquered.
After church, I went home with my parents. I pleaded with them to keep the radio off, and the cautiously agreed. Then I faced my biggest slip-up of the day. My dad said, “Hey son, look at this email I got this week!” He handed me his phone and I started to read and then I threw his phone back at him after thinking it through and exclaimed my disapproval of him making me slip up on my media-free day. He had forgotten and alas I had failed in a sense. Nonetheless, I’m no quitter so I continued the challenge and hoped for the best the rest of the day.
My mom volunteered to cook the pizza we had in the freezers as me and my dad sat in the living room. He was on his phone checking his email and I sat there and watched him. It was one of the most noticeable times I was without media. Typically I’d check my Instagram or catch up on some of the sports stories of the day while waiting for the food. I couldn’t do that though. After pacing the house a couple of times I decided to set up a card game for me and my family to play. My mom was ecstatic about me wanting to play cards with her because so often I neglected her love for cards or board games because I’d rather play Xbox or watch a soccer game so she was so excited about playing games with her family again. Finally, the pizza was finished and we all surrounded the table in the living room and started playing a game called Sequence while shoveling pizza in our faces. We must have played the game for an hour, hour and a half. And after mom decided she needed a nap and Dad was over playing games I had to find something else to fill my time.
I sat on the floor of the living room with a pile of multiple card decks all scrambled together and decided to try and sort them out. I got one deck done and I realized that I was only doing a media free day, no a media free week, so I decided that I wasn’t going to be able to accomplish the card sorting. Dad then proposed that we drive down to Blanchard Springs, a natural park less than ten minutes from our house. So we got in the ’81 Jeep Scrambler and headed that way. This is when I really enjoyed the media free day. I got to enjoy my Dad’s company along with the beauty of the Natural State. The trees were green and the water was blue and I didn’t even care that I didn’t have my phone. I doubt I would’ve had this experience if it wasn’t for this project. I probably would’ve been watching ESPN awaiting the start of a soccer game of some sort. But instead I got to enjoy my home again and I was so relieved. We spent an hour driving around enjoying the world and then decided to head home. Once home I walked into the house and mom was watching TV and I ran by her with my fingers in my ears and eyes to the ground and went to my room. I drifted off to sleep during that time at some point and woke to my parents, yelling “ROWDY WHERE ARE YOU” and I rolled over and stumbled in the vehicle for night church.
The drive to night church consisted of me fighting against the urge to sleep more because I knew I was going to have to sleep on the way home that night. We finally arrived at church with no mishaps and I made it in and sat through the service. After the service was over I went to my ride home, laid down, in the back seat, and drifted to sleep. We arrived back at the house at 9 and I got to my room and fought the urge to turn on Netflix til I could sleep. I finally drifted off an hour or so later and the next morning I overslept, because of my lack of an alarm and was ten minutes late for my first class.
I was quite surprised with the amount of times I reached for my phone throughout the day. I lost track at 20+ times midway through the day. Or how many times I thought, ‘I wonder what the score is for the game’ or ‘I wish I could read my book’. I think what humans go through with technology/media is a very interesting relationship. Technology is something that humans created for their own benefit but we’ve come to be reliant on it. Be dependent on it even. Is an artist supposed to rely on his painting? Should we let ourselves become captive to our own creation? God knows that we all are. If I was to rate myself and my control over my media I’d give myself a solid 5. I can choose not to use the media most of the time but I still reach for it and when I have it it’s hard to neglect it. So can I control my media? Yes. But will I?