Media & Culture class

Students in the “Media & Culture” class (JOU 109) at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University will be contributing to this blog during the Fall 2009 semester, to share their thoughts on some of our readings, assignments and experiments.

One of the experiments we did this month was a Media Abstinence Day, where everyone was supposed to avoid cellphones, computers, TV, etc. for a whole day. Some students reported that they managed to do it! Some got through most of the day, perhaps with minor slip-ups when they checked a text message out of habit or accidentally started watching some TV when someone else in their house turned it on. A few people said they were miserably bored and made a conscious choice to give up the experiment early.

The people who did best on this assignment were those who picked an avoidance day when they had something else to keep them busy, like playing a game of softball or working at a job that doesn’t involve computers. They also found it helpful to warn friends and family in advance that they would be unavailable, so they didn’t feel as much external pressure. (Though at least one student said that his friends taunted him with their smartphones and laptops, trying to bump him off the wagon.)

Members of the class will be posting their essays about the Media Abstinence Day below.

Students should click here to give midterm feedback.


  1. Media Abstinence Day: Are you kidding? Millions of people around the world go their entire lives without the technologies we rely on today. So, why not try it, for one day, to go without it?
    I tried it. One full, long, boring, lonely day without media use. No cell phone, no computer, and no television. Fine. How’d it go? It went slow; slow but well. Who knew that being without the things we claim to rely on the most could have someone feel more relaxed, more at ease?
    During my time as a media prude, I read a book. I did homework, I cooked and I even cleaned! I had some alone time. At “down times,” I was tempted to send a text message, but since I didn’t start using my phone from the morning, it was east not to start mid-day. Could I do it more often? Probably not. But I should.
    Life is so busy with work, school, plans, etc. It is hard to go more than some time without any ways of communications. Email, instant message, phone calls or text messages are all the easiest accesses to the people who you want to or need to converse with in an instant. Music, television and other entertainments are of course important in our times in some ways, but we do not need a computer or television in order to entertain us.
    The most difficult part of this was that I was bored. I found myself looking at my turned-off cell phone about ten times every hour wondering why my cell phone hasn’t vibrated yet all day. But it was fine. I needed this day, alone. Really alone. So, thank you media and technology for making me feel like I need you to survive; And thank you Professor Rauch for helping me see that I don’t.

  2. Jou
    Prof. Rauch
    David Johnson
    Digital Media Blackout Day
    I decided that Saturday, September 19, 2009, would be my media blackout day. I woke up around 8:30 am that morning and realized my day would not be the same. The habit of turning on the TV for the weather and morning news was not an option. I stayed in bed wondering how I would accomplish this task. I tried to return to sleep but I had to get to school for my 10:00 am class. I was able make out of my apartment without using digital media. I left my cell phone at home along with my ipod and headed to school. On the bus, it seemed that everyone including the bus driver had some sort of mp3 player on. I began to sweat and realized that listening to the outside world is overrated. I missed my ipod. There was no digital media temptation during class but looking at everyone else with their digital media gadgets was nerve wrecking. I began to twitch nervously. I usually walk home and enjoy some music but I had to sing to myself until I got home.
    Once I got back home the real temptation began to eat away at me. I had no idea of what to do without my TV, laptop, or desktop pc. I decided to step outside for the remainder of my day thinking it would make my task easier. All my buddies were sitting around our favorite porch talking about the Floyd Mayweather fight that was coming on later on that night and where they would watch it. I’m not a boxing fan so it didn’t bother me but I wanted to hangout with my friends as watched the fight. I was stuck between a good fight and a school project. The viewing of the fight began to wear on me also I hadn’t been on my cell phone all day. It was now around 5pm and I still hadn’t broken down as of yet and I was determined to not use digital media. As we sat there talking I could only think about me not using my cell or laptop all day. Everyone around me began to tease me by using their phones and my other friend brought out his laptop just to taunt me. I had to get out of there. It was harder than it seemed. Digital media is a big part\of my life I came to realize. I didn’t give in to them but the temptation was strong and increasing.
    I headed back into my house about 10:30 pm and that’s when things got hectic. I usually sit online from about 10pm to maybe 1:00 am on a regular basis. I’m an astrology nut and I love going to websites that have pictires of the cosmos. When I realized that my favorite pastime was out of the question for a day, I broke down and turned on my desk top pc. I had lost the battle against digital media. I hadn’t realized how dependent upon digital media I had become. I became a little upset at myself that I couldn’t’hold out until I went to bed. I went straight to Wiki Sky.Org and became to scan the cosmos; I was happy again.
    I looked my out my window and saw my friends begin to pile into their vehicles to head to the fight party. Since I had already lost the battle I decided to head to the fight with my friends. They taunted and said I couldn’t come along because they didn’t want my professor blaming them for any of my failures. We laughed and I jumped into the vechicle and headed to the fight party. I was disappointed that I couldn’t last 24 hours with digital media.
    The only digital media that I didn’t touch all day were my cell phone and ipod. Once we reached our destination, the digital TV was there and so was the fight. I had left my cell phone at home along with my ipod but I failed ask the task. I’ve become accustomed to the availability and relative ease of digital media and how it has made my life easier. I felt as if I was recovering from a drug addiction when I turned on my desktop and the familiar hum of the computer eased my soul. I can finally admit that I’m addicted to digital technology and I would go crazy if I had to give it up entirely.
    My apparent dependency on digital media makes me wonder how I survived before it came along. I need my computer and I difinetly need my ipod or I’ll be lost. It came as a surprise to myself that I couldn’t accomplish what I thought would be an easy task. I can admit I am an internet immigrant whose in the process of obtaining his citizenship.

  3. I found out during my media abstinence day that it wasn’t too hard to avoid the everyday materials that I use since I was told to come in to work for the day. Since I woke up at one in the afternoon, then worked from 3-12, it was a fairly easy thing to do because I was working and didn’t have my mind on using the internet or television much.
    One difficulty was not being able to use my ipod though, since I use it a lot while working. Having to mop staircases for a couple hours by myself was pretty quiet. The only other difficult thing I could think of is that because I am involved in various fantasy baseball leagues I had to just wonder how the players on my team did. I later found out that when I turned my phone on that I received texts from people in the league that updated me on how my team’s players did. I didn’t have any urges to watch the games though since my team is already out of contention for the playoffs and I didn’t really miss using the internet since I was keeping busy.
    I think that just being at work made this an easy task to do since the time did go by faster while I was working. I think I would like to try another abstinence day on a day when I don’t have something that I know I’m going to do to try and make it more difficult to find things to do to pass the time. The only way the day would have been easier would have been to spend the day outside all day at an amusement park or at the beach.

  4. In modern American culture, media is everywhere: the television shows we watch, the e-mail we use, even the walls of our subway stations are decked out from ceiling to floor with ads and flyers. So how do we escape from it?
    To set aside an entire day in order to abstain from all forms of media seemed impossible for many reasons, but there was one in particular that really prevented any attempts at the experiment. I play for LIU’s softball team. They are constantly texting and e-mailing us throughout the day to relay crucial information about practice times, game times, study hall times, and other critical team oriented information. Most of the time, practice is either delayed, early, or cancelled. Sometimes an extra practice is thrown at us at the very last second, and once or twice we have had mandatory team meetings called without any notice. In other words, my phone is my life-line. Also, being a freshman at a college 2,000 miles away from my home, my parents are naturally a little distressed at their “empty nest” situation. In order to compensate for this, they feel the need to text or call me every hour, on the hour. You do not even want to know what happens if I don’t reply or forget to call back.
    The reality of my situation was this: I neither have the time nor the proper circumstances necessary to complete this assignment. After grappling and struggling with this for a long time, I finally came up with a solution. My team was going to Connecticut over the weekend to play a few games. It’s a three hour bus ride, and our coaches do not allow cell phones on the bus. Obviously I can’t use my phone while I am playing games, so this is the perfect opportunity to practice media abstinence… even if I don’t have much of a choice. Most girls listened to their Ipods on the bus, but since this is a form of media, I had the opportunity to willingly abstain from it. It wasn’t too difficult; When I wasn’t talking and laughing with my team mates, I was doing homework. The games were long, thus the opportunities to use our cell phones or Ipods were scarce.
    At the end of the day, I felt like I had bonded with my team in a way that would not have been possible with cell phones constantly at hand. I’m glad my coach enforces this rule, although it may seem harsh from an outsider’s glance. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that I wasn’t ecstatic the next day to be able to text freely and facebook without reserve. It really did make me appreciate all media has done for me and our society, and I was simply taken aback at how addicted and dependent our country is on the media.

  5. Interesting points, Lindsey. Now that people can reach you to change plans at the last minute (like softball practice), it means that nobody sticks to plans anymore!

  6. My media abstinence day began with the ringing of my alarm clock at about 7
    a.m. Then I put on my radio to ensure I was completely up for the day. From that point
    forward I entertained myself with some homework until 1 p.m. Then I went to class at 3
    p.m. glancing at the time occasionally meanwhile trying to avoid using Facebook on my
    blackberry. At the end of classes I was tempted to watch television as I eat dinner.
    However, I was not able to persist as I glanced at the evening news for 2 minutes. The
    media absence day was normal since I do not really like to use much media. I did enjoy it
    but a day with media would be better according to today’s society.
    The negative of the day was the feeling of possible important things being missed.
    However, on the media absent day I avoided the morning news, Aol and Facebook the
    entire day. One of the contributing factors of the media free day was I being prepared the
    day before by checking emails. Another factor is that I am not accustomed with media
    regularly. I have the habit of not sitting on the computer entertaining myself. My habit of
    low media intake is what allowed me to almost completely finish the media abstinence
    day. On the other hand, if I were always on the computer regularly, the day could have
    been harder. However, I would not want another media free day because of today’s need
    for email.

  7. A Day without Technology
    It was a beautiful Sunday morning and I began my normal Sunday routine; I got up, made my bed, took a shower, and got ready to go to church. What made this Sunday different from any other Sunday is that I had decided not to use technology for the day. When I arrived to my house from church I went to my little sister Andreas’ room. She was doing her homework for the next day when I told her about my goal for the day. As soon as she heard what I was going to do she started to laugh, doing her best to make it known that I wasn’t going to make it and that I would have to go to the beach to let the time pass if I wanted to accomplish this goal. Curious as to how I would deal with the prospect of not using technology for the day Andrea also what I had done in order to achieve my goal. I told her that before I started this experiment I sent a mass text telling my friends and family that I wasn’t going to use technology for the day and to call me on my landline phone only if they really needed me. She laughed and said that she will see.
    Living without technology is a surreal feeling. Part of me felt as if I was living in the Stone Age, the other felt as if technology took away from my interpersonal relationships. With that being said I did not know what to do with myself. I decided to catch up on some of my reading and my sleep. It was twelve a clock in the afternoon when I decided to take a nap, but my senses were heightened and as soon as I laid down I heard my youngest sister Catalina playing music on her computer. I decided to get up, got something to read, and headed to the backyard, the quietest place around the house.
    After reading I finally tired and decided to go to my room to take a nap. On my way to the room my father was watching television and I tried not to look at what he was watching, but it seem as if I couldn’t control my eyes and I looked. I felt horrible, but I kept walking towards my room. Catalina, my youngest sister, was still playing her music on the computer so I had to go in her room and tell her to lower it. Once again I tried to ignore Catalina’s computer, but my eyes were drawn to her computer.
    As I left Catalina’s room it was 3:30 in the afternoon and I went to sleep. When I woke up it was five fifty five in the afternoon, I had over slept and woke up because of the vibration of my cell phone. Once I saw it vibrating I was confused because I was sure I had turned it off. It was a text by the way it vibrated; I didn’t read it, but I couldn’t help but see who it was.
    It was time for dinner and my parents and family were waiting for me. While we were eating my youngest sister Catalina turns on the television. At first I ignored it and talked with my family, but after a little while I stared to watch “The Wizards of Waverly Place”. Once again my curiosity and inability to consciously avoid technology got the better of me.
    It all went downhill from there. It was around seven a clock when I decided I had enough. With this experiment I realized that using technology is like an addiction that I can’t help but feed in to. Technology serves as a huge part of many lives and in many ways makes our lives more convenient, but there is a lot to be said for those in the world that don’t readily use technology. Technology is everywhere, even the wheel was considered a vastly sophisticated technological tool centuries ago. The only way to escape it would be if someone where to move to a remote area, preferably on where there are no satellite signals to enable phone communication. It is hard to ignore technology when someone owns six TVs, five computers, and seven phones. This experience was an unforgettable experience and my little sister Andrea was right, at this stage of my life if I want my day without technology I would have to go to the beach or a remote area.

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