Thursday, June 16, 2011


So according to a recent study out of Northwestern, minority kids use media 4 1/2 hours more than white kids. Turns out that they're also early adapters--using iPhones' new features--and listen to more music. Is that such a bad thing? I mean, this isn't 1970 when listen to music meant sitting down with LPs. I may be pulling up the average a little, but here was my day when I read about this study:

7:30-9:00 morning weight training, listening to music 1/2 hours, listening to Planet Money and Get Fit Guy podcasts, some shimmying
9:00-9:30 Showering, eating breakfast, reading the news on iPhone, 20 minutes
9:30- 10:30 Bus ride, 1 hr reading
10:30-12:00 Library, 1 1/2 hr reading
12:00-12:30 Lunch break. Also, walking around campus listening to music, 15 minutes
12:30-1:30 Internet--answering email, checking Facebook, looking up a Wikipedia article about Lizzie Borden
1:30-2:30 Library reading
2:30-3:30 Bus ride, on iPhone reading news, getting health tips from Jullian Michaels, flashcards, reading this article on PsycExplorer app
3:30-4:30 Pushing Daisies 1 hr TV
4:30-5:30 Reading in the pool
5:30-6:30 Dinner, cleaning while listening to music. After dinner stroll, listening to Chesteron mysteries from Librivox
7:00-7:30 Driving to activity, listening to podcast

Look at that--nearly 12 hours of the mediated life! I'm not saying that all of the kids are going around listening to Stuff You Should Know and checking the BBC app for news updates, but media use is relatively neutral.

Relatively. You may notice the dirth of social interaction (Facebook excepting) in that stretch of day. Sometimes I feel like I know Michael Brit or BJ Harrison or the Planet Money guys better than the people sitting next to me on the bus. Not that I'd be certain get all chatty with them, but maybe without so much media, I might. I'm glad to listen to other smart, rich people like me in my books and apps and podcasts, but I should learn something about the people around me.

The other concern is that I'm such a good consumer of all this media that it can be kind of paralyzing in terms of being a contributor of it. I tried to read for Librivox, once, but my inadequacies made me so nervous that my track ended up tinny and over-produced. I notice that I blog less than I did two years ago. I write less, in general, I think. I'm not saying that all of that is because of paralyzing media overload, but it may be related.

I don't know--is the unmediated life more worth living?

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Mary, this is completely unrelated to anything in your post (I have no idea, but I believe I am genetically disposed to distrust excessive media, even while enjoying it immensely), but I JUST realized what "just a hat rack" refers to. Holy cow. Apparently mine IS just a hat rack.

Chalk this up to embarrassing self-discoveries.