Digital Diet / Digital Fast

October 30, 2010

How long could you go without using a computer, a mobile phone, watching TV? How would that impact your life? Your communication networks? Your success as a student or at work?

These descriptions of “media fasts” or “media diets” (click here) by students at Fordham University are fascinating. Professor and communications scholar Minna Aslama asked them to refrain from or cut back on using information and communication technologies on a regular day and to blog about their experiences.

Here are some excerpts from the students’ posts:

“It is quite embarrassing to admit that I could not attempt a Media Diet for more than 2 hours. I like to consider myself a down to earth person who does not need to check facebook 24/7 or text every moment of the day. On the contrary, the reason I could not complete my media diet had more to do with academics than social networking. Being a college student in this day and age, it is not only impossible to go on a media diet but, in certain ways, irresponsible. I receive on average 3-5 emails a day that require necessary responses, from either Professors or the captains of the lacrosse team. This makes checking my email a necessity.” –Jacqueline Tozzi

“Before beginning my diet, I felt it would be important to tell some essential people what exactly was going on. If my parents, for example, hadn’t known that I was on a media diet, bad things could have happened. However, I didn’t actually tell EVERY single one of my friends that I was doing this media diet. The result was kind of humorous and kind of staggering. All of the friends that attempted to get in touch with me all day thought something terrible had happened to me; I wasn’t answering any phones or touching the internet and they panicked. While I found the whole thing very funny at the time (and still do, come to think of it) it gave me something to think about. Not only does the world push media on you, but the rest of the world expects you to keep up. Everyone (at least our age) expects everyone else to be ‘plugged in’ at almost all times. It’s sad to see that when I went off the grid for only 24 hours I was considered dead or dying.” – Vincent Favetta

“Likewise, it wasn’t possible to refrain from watching TV. In between classes, there is relatively little to do for a college student with a hectic schedule. How many things could one possibly do in the hours in between classes? I attempted to fill my time with schoolwork and reading, but at a certain point, I just couldn’t anymore; I had to relax and turn on the TV.” – Joe Schaefer


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