The ever-growing problem of mass media addiction
by Nick Jones
When registering for classes last fall, I kept going back and forth when it came to “COMM 3555, Mass Media Addiction.” I could not figure out why I was so indecisive when it came to this class, but signed up for it nonetheless.
Now, as we wrap up the semester and I reflect on what I have learned in this class, I have finally figured out why I was so hesitant to take this course: I am more addicted to media than I want to admit.
Our opening unit revolved around the similarities between media addiction and cocaine addiction. Believe it or not, there is a striking amount of similarities between the two such as how the brain feels a need for both. After taking this class, I am much more aware of how much I choose to immerse myself in media, and quite honestly, pick up on things that I would not have picked up on in the past.
We then came to the topic of video games and how addicting they really can be. I was pretty shocked looking at the statistics when it came to how much worse students would do in school if they played a certain amount of video games.
I was surprised to see how complex addiction really is. Addiction isn’t just one thing in one person, it affects different people in multiple areas of life. We have to remember that when talking to someone who has an addiction.
As the semester progressed, the daunting task of being two weeks media free was slowly approaching. Once the day finally hit, I recognized the obsession and angst I felt by not being able to check my phone when I wanted. It felt like I was constantly missing out on something and really felt disconnected from the world.
I’m not going to lie, the first week was pretty tough. However, once the second week rolled around it was not nearly as bad. In fact, I had grown quite accustomed to not caring what my friends were doing in my hometown.
It was a liberating feeling being able to focus on myself rather than hundreds of other people.
Once the two weeks were up, I slowly went back to Facebook, Twitter, ESPN, news, etc.
After I went back to these things, I realized that with the type of world we live in, it is nearly impossible to function as a contributing member of society without media. One thing I found interesting is that in a class about media addiction, a fairly significant portion of our grade comes from posting online to our class’ Yammer site. If this doesn’t convince you that it is nearly impossible to escape media, I don’t know what will.
Whether we like it or not, it is simply unreasonable to live in a world without being connected.
Social networking used to be all about one-on-one human interaction. This is still extremely important, but how you initially make these connections has changed. Be that as it may, I would still encourage anyone to go at least one week media free and try to rediscover yourself. You may be surprised. There is a lot about yourself that you don’t even know.
This class has triggered more awareness to addictions that other people have dealt with, helping me feel more supported in my own problems. I have my own things that I am addicted to just like everyone. And if someone tells you otherwise, they are lying.
I am not addicted to anything serious, but something that I just cannot live without is sports and music. If I do not have my headphones in when walking around campus, I feel strange and a little on edge. However, that’s beside the point. In this class, I learned how to approach and help people who are struggling with their own addictions far more serious than my own.
It is crucial that we are that person’s rock and help them in any way we can. Opening up to the person you are helping can truly make a difference. The most important thing you can do is let them know they are not alone.
Tell them about things in your life that you have struggled with. Maybe mention addictions that you used to have or maybe are currently still dealing with. All I know is that when I’m struggling, I want to know that I am not alone.
Throughout the semester, there were many thought-provoking conversations that were hard to face some days. I think they were hard because I didn’t want to admit to myself that some of the things discussed in class were issues that I have grappled with myself.
I won’t get too in depth about them, but eventually those concerns went away. One day I was just honest with myself and started looking at solutions rather than bury these ideas deeper in my head. There is no doubt that coming out of this class I have become more aware of my time spent with media, but I have also become more aware of addiction as a whole.
Graphic by Will Madison