48 Hour News Blackout

During a 48 hour news blackout, solitude was actually too difficult to achieve. The almost automatic substitution for other faux social activities quickly filled the gaps, so that a lack of “news” was hardly noticed.

This was a somewhat dissapointing discovery, as I was looking forward to the valuable introspection that Deresiewicz describes. However it is not surprising, as the the digital information society we live in encompasses far more than just news. My usual news “exposure” is a mix of Facebook (speculative and “click-baity” articles that I research later), various trustworthy subreddits, and the New York Times. I estimate that with all these sources combined, I spend about four hours every day consuming news. Initially four hours seemed like a considerable amount of time, and that the absence would be significantly noticeable. When video games, quickly torrented films, anime, and Netflix are readily accessible this absence is easily filled. [How might you act on these insights? How might your media consumption change?]

The information age Deresiewicz describes is not limited to news that penetrates our solitude from reality. We simultaneously live in a number of alternate realities. Even when major catastrophic events are being reported in our own world, it is easy to ignore the concern as long as our curiosity can be diverted elsewhere. What happened in Game of Thrones or Neon Genesis Evangelion can hold just as much of our attention. We create news and share it with other people who also enjoy these alternate realities. We report the things we noticed, the latest episode, our theories and thoughts on what we’ve seen. [Organize your writing: new idea, new paragraph] Most MMO’s (massive multiplayer online games) have expansive wikis describing the world and its characters. People spend hours writing and contributing information to a news network for a world that does not exist and has no bearing on our own; I found myself spending quite some time here. [How might you act on these insights? How might your media consumption change?]

Instead of solitude, I experienced some rare moments of anxiety. My car does not have an aux input, USB, or CD tray, and is limited to just radio. I was forced to avoid the only distraction available to me during traffic, for fear of a DJ or radio personality making a quip about the latest Trump blunder. Even this would not have occured if I had a modern car from the modern society Deresiewicz describes. More and more does McLuhan’s vision of a global unified computer conscious come to mind, a reality that seems inevitable now. As it stands, solitude is difficult to experience within a 48 hour timeframe. In the future it may be impossible, and the word may only exist in self-imposed experiments like this one. [excellent insights]

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