Consuming the media, in all of its forms, has become an alternative to living life through experiences. I sometimes feel like I am cheating on a wife or girlfriend whenever I choose to use my phone or laptop to relax instead of doing something more tangible with the real world, like going for a walk or reaching out to a friend to catch up. Just like a real life affair, there is a certain satisfaction I think we gain from the instant gratification of our social media worlds of hilarious memes, inside jokes, and various other culturally significant events that it becomes the primary source of catching up with life. Also, just like an affair, the consumption can be harmful to the lifestyle that might be best for us.
Media and I have been on a “on-and-off” relationship throughout the past few years. I had a Facebook in high school and some parts of college, but we decided it was best we see other people and we went our separate ways. We never really think about each other anymore. Twitter, however, is my biggest temptation when it comes to straying from my healthy relationship with life. There have been extended periods of time where I visited every day, multiple times a day, enjoying every tweet and retweet and favorite. Some sort of pleasure reward message gets shot up into my brain and the dopamine levels rise whenever I felt the warmth of another human cheating on his or her relationship with the real world to interact with my own polygamy. It is so easy, so available, and every original idea feels so worthy of a tweet.
The “on” phases of my affair with the media world have definitely been characterized with joy in some regards, but the “off” phases are probably some of the most interesting and lascivious moments I’ve had with life. Being disconnected from the Attention Deficit of the social media and truly focusing on life and the things I found fascinating, free from wanting to share my life with others, is where I found true joy. While it would make me a hypocrite to say everyone should disconnect, I do recommend everyone try it out for 6 months and live their lives. Liberty and freedom are hard to experience while shackled to a phone.
Being a media producer is definitely something people do, but I think it often takes over their life. There has even been a True Life documentary episode on MTV; True Life: I Am Famous Online. The people of these shows dive into the world of “fame” by being liked by countless strangers online. Sure, some people might wish they were well regarded for their media production, I think that it is a shallow recognition. A real artist painting a canvas, a real musician filling a venue with sound, a real author publishing a book that requires someone to sit in one spot, etc. is a more intimate and rewarding experience in my opinion.
Who knows, maybe the change in how we consume and produce media is bound to change and to try and fight it would be futile. Maybe this is the way things are going to be and to not adapt is to be left behind. Whatever it may be, it is hard to ignore the power that new forms of media have assumed.