Media is a curious thing. Television, newspapers, radio, magazines, blogs, social media.
They inform us, they entertain us. They distract us.
They can get us to think about things, sometimes deeply, like the Harvey Weinstein media campaign. And sometimes the media itself can be used as a distraction (or avoidance) of larger, more important issues in our lives. And sometimes media can almost be an addiction. Just as some people who cannot get started with their day without a cup (or two) of coffee, some people cannot start their day without getting their daily dose of information.
But if it could be said that coffee is an addiction or habit, that people regularly engage in without thinking, so could social media. Firing up the computer to find out the latest word on this or that celebrity or this or that politician, may fill up a need to distract ourselves from more important issues that we may be avoiding in our own lives. Or simply that we are wanting to take a break from our own lives. Have a chuckle or two at silly cat pictures on social media or find a really nifty DIY project on Pinterest to occupy ourselves with on the weekend in order to get a break from the having to deal with issues in our family or personal lives.
If you find that you cannot go a day without connecting to social media, whether t.v., newspapers, magazines or the internet, it could also be that you are searching for something with the hopes that it will provide you with something you may be missing in your life. But what is that something?
If food fills our stomach, media fills our minds.
A diet of cotton candy, popcorn and chips, while filling and a great treat, is certainly not a healthy, balanced meal, but okay once in a while, like when one goes to the amusement park or the movie theatre.
Same thing with social media. Serious issues and concerns are there: business news, the economy, the unemployment rate, politics. But lighter news items, like the antics of celebrity couplings and uncoupling’s or the latest gaffe by celebrity politicians are all very well for a giggle.
But if we are wanting to make a real, concrete, permanent change in our lives, we have to make a personal commitment, one which involves confronting the “news stories” of our own lives, digging deeper into those stories and being fully present and not distracted by external media. Choosing people and relationships over things.
Think of it this way: which would you rather be a passive viewer/participant in a video game on PlayStation or XBOX, where you are battling demons and conquering new lands, or a real-life action hero in the story of your own life?
The character of Tom from Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie (1944) explains distraction of media:
“People go to the movies instead of moving! Hollywood characters are supposed to have all the adventures for everybody in America, while everybody in America sits in a dark room and watches them have them!”