Rationale: The use of, and reliance on, media in our everyday lives has reached an all-time high. So much is this the case, that we often don’t even agree on what we mean by the term “media.” Certainly, we understand the mass media: newspapers, magazines, books, radio, television and film. We can’t forget the Internet and music. The media include the places where we go for much of our information and entertainment. The goal of this assignment is to help you understand and think critically about the role of media in your life. Are you a slave to the technology or are you a competent consumer? Given our reliance on technology, how can you ensure that you manage technology instead of it managing you?
Directions: You will complete this assignment in multiple parts, all of which will be submitted as a part of your grade.
The Media Log: For the first part of your assignment, you are to keep a 24-hour media log, where you note your use of media over the course of a typical day. There are smartphone apps for both Android and Apple iOS that can give you a start by providing a log of smartphone usage. (One study suggests the average person spends nearly 3 hours per day on their smartphones — that’s 12.5% of the day, or nearly 20% of your awake time if you sleep for the recommended 8 hours per night.) But, smartphone use alone doesn’t constitute your entire exposure to media: you read, you listen to music, you surf the web, you watch TV and movies — sometimes on your phones, sometimes with laptops or tablets, sometimes in an actual movie theater, perhaps. You get the picture. We consume A LOT of media. Before you start your diary, estimate how many hours per day you think you will spend in a typical day.
The Decision to Fast: Once you’ve completed your diary (which you will submit as part of this assignment), you should spend at least a day reflecting on your media consumption. As a part of this reflection, you will do two things: Decide which technologies you’d like to abstain from and for how long. In an ideal world, you’d spend a week without media influence of any kind. But done mindfully, selecting the one thing to which you feel most connected (perhaps you check Twitter more than once per hour) and committing to abstaining from it for a period of 24 hours can be just as effective of a learning opportunity. As a result, I will not dictate your decision. Obviously, you will gain little from abstaining from something of little value to you or engaging in a slighted fast of only several hours. Clearly, abstaining for a period of 24 hours takes you through an entire day, a complete cycle of your life.
The Reflective Essay: Once you’ve complete your mindful fast, it is time to reflect on what you’ve learned. What were the challenges and benefits associated with your fast? How can you connect what you’ve experienced and learned with what we’ve discussed in class? What does your experience suggest to you about how your older relatives lived? What does it suggest to you about how media and communication have changed our everyday lives?
Your reflective essay should discuss your experience and addressing, as a start, the questions posed above. This is an individual assignment. It does not require outside research. However, a component of your grade is connecting your experience to what you are learning in Media & Society. As a result, it is expected you will properly attribute and cite any information or ideas that are not your own — whether you are paraphrasing content from your reading or directly quoting materials — using the APA Style citation skills you’ve learned in class. You are responsible for every aspect of this project, including ensuring that it complied with the NUQ Academic Integrity policy (as outlined in your syllabus).
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