2. Feelings about media

Addicted to media.  REALLY.  Addicted.

Many students described their reactions to going without media for 24 hours in literally the same terms associated with drug and alcohol addictions: In withdrawal, Frantically craving, Very anxious, Extremely antsy, Miserable, Jittery, Crazy.

Some said they hated the media-free period, hated the assignment and hated being away from their cell phones.  Others said they were lonely or sad, more irritable than usual, or anxious.  Still others noted feeling isolated, upset, moody, absent,  frustrated, flustered and annoyed.

  • “Texting and IMing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort. When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life. Although I go to a school with thousands of students, the fact that I was not able to communicate with anyone via technology was almost unbearable.
  • “Honestly, this experience was probably the single worst experience I have ever had.”
  • “I got back from class around 5, frantically craving some technology and to look through my phone so I cheated a little bit and checked my phone. From my phone, I accessed text messages, close to a dozen missed calls, glanced at some emails, and acknowledged many twitter @replies from followers wondering where I was and if I was ok. At that moment, I couldn’t take it anymore being in my room…alone…with nothing to occupy my mind so I gave up shortly after 5pm. I think I had a good run for about 19 hours and even that was torture.”
  • “My short attention span prevented me from accomplishing much, so I stared at the wall for a little bit. After doing some push-ups, I just decided to take a few Dramamine and go to sleep to put me out of my misery.”

Students said they felt disconnected, anxious or worried they were missing out on something, out of the loop, or lost.  Taking away their technological means of being in touch clearly put students out of sorts – many used words such as weird, odd or strange to describe how they felt.

  • When I don’t have [my cell phone] on my person, sometimes it can feel like I am missing a limb because I feel so disconnected from all the people who I think are calling me, but really they aren’t half the time.”

And did I mention that I was BORED to distraction?!

Without a digital connection to others, students felt bereft of company as well as cut off from the chief way they amuse themselves. Students noted that especially when they are alone they rely on cell phones and the Internet to fill the hours between classes, entertain them while working out or commuting — even if that commuting just means walking around campus. Without media, they were simply, stunningly, crashingly bored.

  • “I then became more bored then I believe I have ever been in my life.”
  • “On a psychological note, my brain periodically went crazy because I found at times that I was so bored I didn’t know what to do with myself.”
  • “Thankfully, the combination of studying and randomly shooting paper clips into my garbage across the room took me all the way until dinner.”
  • After a few hours in class I decided mentally I couldn’t last any longer because texting in class keeps me occupied when I am bored and I was extremely bored in class that day so the effects of no technology took its toll.”
  • “When I was walking to class I always text and listen to my iPod so the walk to class felt extremely long and boring unlike all the other times.”
  • “On Friday, I had to walk to class and stare at everyone as I passed because I had nothing else to do.”
  • “I took the longest shower of my life and went to bed early on Sunday night.”