Date: December 2010 from Press In America

I’ve decided to make my last post also my last paper.

Throughout the semester, Professor Howard Good has outlined how technological media has had more negative effects on modern human culture than positive. Everyone in Press In America has agreed that people are too dependent and use technology often. Although we may realize this, we still leave the class and continue our day, listening to our iPods, going on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace or other internet programs and also continue to stare at our phones every once in a while. As much as I may know what Good is expressing and what William Powers describes in his book, Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy For Building A Good Life In The Digital Age, the main question is why we don’t change our behavior and why we continue to live in the endless media torrent?

Powers explains in the book that media has created a modern society which is always on the go. There is never enough time to sit around and think. The qualities of life have been replaced by quantities, and depth seems to be non-existent. This type of flattening of our culture is what Powers suggests as we roam around plugged in to a technological device waiting for some anvil to squash us like out of a Looney Tunes cartoon.

As a journalist major, I would say that relying on media would be the best bet to achieve the most successful reporting. However, it will be difficult to go home at the end of the day and ignore it. Media culture always seems to follow me wherever I go. After a class is done, I would usually have to write an article at home or a blog while doing research on my laptop, emailing professors, using Microsoft Office Word and keeping a musical tune to go with my progress. The music part is optional, but many times it helps me to keep up a steady pace when typing. I am currently listening to a song from the Harry Potter score.

I think the most difficult part of changing our behavior is that we live in media saturation. Wherever you go, whether on TV, on the internet, your cell phone, the mall, the movie theater, stores, or other venues, advertisements pop up to remind you of the massive media crowd. The digital world is a loud and obnoxious place that leaves society distracted from what is real, important and life changing.

In one of the chapters from Hamlet’s Blackberry, Powers describes when his cell phone went overboard during a fishing trip. Once he dropped his phone in water, he was shut from society, he said. All he had instead was his fishing rod, his boat, the water and nature surrounding him. There were no telephone wires, no areas of internet, no television, no iPod, and now no cell phone. Before, he was not alone because his friends and family were a few button taps away, now he was in a new world.

However, he began to feel exhilarated and felt he had full control of his own life. Powers’ revelation was a way for him to experience self reflection in a healthier emotional place. This thrill of life reminded him of when he attended college in the 80’s. He took in nature and acquired a sense of wisdom without being overcome by information.

Like Good suggests, I believe the only way to rid these behaviors is if people were to completely remove it from their lives. I think the only thing that would cure my media attention and interaction is if I went on an outing in the wilderness and reconnected with nature as Powers did. However, Powers eventually returned to his routine of damaging media and thus brought back his behaviors. We don’t need technological devices, but when it is in our world, we tend to want it so we don’t feel like an outcast.

Hopefully someday, I could put away the phone, the iPod, the computer and TV and search the natural world for the real answers. I believe that I could get more out of life by sitting outside on the beach and enjoying the sunset instead of starring at a screen for hours of the day. If anything could rid technology, it would be nature itself.

Photo Credit: NPR