I experienced a time when I had a lengthy love affair with all things media. While I was up to date with every kind of event, there was trouble brewing.
This infatuation was taking up more and more of my valuable time.
So I decided to challenge myself to a 'media fast'. No papers, no television, no radio, and committed to hot foot it past the airport news stand. Three magazines for ten dollars, a ten minute flick fest at best on a flight home, the equivalent of paper candy with no calories had become a regular flight risk.
What's a media fast? Well it seems like it's tradition for some, going for a day or even longer without any form of media.
What's the point? A media fast gives us the opportunity to reflect on the complex dependence we developed on mass media and digital technology. And a chance to see how deeply media and technology are woven into the fabric of our lives.
Why I choose to media fast? There's a discipline in deciding to fast. It's not easy to do, making us pause to think about your choices. A fast encourages introspection, revealing bad habits we may have developed like the newspaper ritual I had developed, where one paper wasn't enough to pour over at the coffee shop.
The flip side? A media fast reminds us about what we really love about media and technology. I love and appreciate the positive media, the stuff that has me feeling like I can do anything, the breakfast of champions I'm sure. And I choose to spread my share, like fairy dust.
Here's a few tips on how to get started.
- If you're feeling bold, cut out everything for a week.
Yes that means no internet, radio or newspaper.
Watch the people and the world all around you.
- Can't hack a week?
Try one day and cut out all internet, TV, radio and even reading for a day. See what happens when you give this a go.
- Fast on specific media and take turns on the others.
Instead of cutting out everything, cut out only TV for a day or two.
Then another day go without music.
Then see if you can live without e-mail for a day.
- Can't see yourself giving it up completely?
Then keep a track of the time you spend on media for one day without actually cutting back.
Add it up at the end of the day. See how many minutes you devote to each type of media. It might be an eye-opener.
What happens next? I've changed...the newspaper is now a Sunday morning treat and for the colourful magazine inserts on lifestyle, heath and wellbeing. The rest is redundant. As for TV, well I only have space for a few carefully selected programs. The radio in the car has long transformed into my library of inspirational people who ride with me and share insights I treasure. The magazine deal is no longer interesting.
'Instead I created space, allowing my thoughts to flow without the outside influences and I write.'
People ask me how do I keep up with the news? I don't. It seems most people are talking about it and sooner or later a succession of people say 'what do you think about...?' and there it is, the inescapable and I'm in the know without actively seeking.
Rethink your media intake.
What changes do you want to make to your media use?
What do you need to do to implement those changes?
You may discover that cutting out certain forms of media wasn't as hard as you thought and like me, you were able to use the time to do other things, the things that matter.
My new media habit is to post positive media that makes me smile.