Topics in Emerging Media and Communications

Media Overloaded

with 7 comments

Confession: I didn’t own a cell phone two years ago. You heard me, I had no cell phone. Instead, I had a home phone with an answering machine. If people needed to get in contact with me, they could leave a message. I was in control of my own time and personal space. I spent my free time painting, writing short stories, cooking, meditating, practicing yoga and studying.

My friends and family thought I was crazy for not having a cell. What if I got lost? What if I was in danger or my car broke down? Why couldn’t they get a-hold of me whenever they wanted? My argument was always “leave me a message and I’ll get back to you.” If something bad or inconvenient happened, I would figure it out, I didn’t mind tempting the fates.

I appreciated my disconnected lifestyle, in fact I took pride in it, until I was required to have a cell phone for work. My sacred space was thus infiltrated by media. The cell phone started a spiral into email groups, blogging, Facebook, message boards, Tumblr, Twitter etc. etc. etc. I was texting all the time, my phone super-glued to my palm, readily available for everyone and anyone to contact me. I couldn’t go an hour without checking on the status of my media outlets.

With time and my chosen graduate field of study, I’ve become completely engrossed by the sharing of information and technology.  It’s exhilarating to be part of a movement, and to learn discover the inner workings of media, but it often feels overwhelming. More and more I find myself stressed, on the verge of obsessed with excess connectivity. There is so much information out there and not enough time  to absorb it all. I feel left behind the pack, like I’m watching the wave of knowledge pass me by.

Is my brain quick enough, my ability to multi-task, multi-conceptualize fast enough? Am I handicapped because I didn’t play video games or watch TV as a kid?  These and so many other questions plague my dreams of becoming a social media expert. I fear that I will forever feel like a fraud.

What I’ve realized recently is that I have been so busy playing catch-up and thinking about all the information I need to absorb that I’ve lost sight of my priorities. I haven’t spent enough time away from the computer screen. I haven’t put my phone down and picked up a paint brush. As much as I’m in love with the possibilities of social media, I’m more in love with being creative and innovative within my own life sphere.  I miss taking time for quiet contemplation, I miss practicing yoga, I miss the sound of my own thoughts.

Now I’m faced with a dilemma. How do I find balance now that social media has taken over my time?  My personal goal is to make my use of media in a meaningful, safe and effective way so that I can stay connected but still have time for the practices and people that bring fulfillment.

I don’t want to be the girl with the cell phone in her hand, I want to be the girl with her hands in the air, dancing to her own personal soundtrack.


Written by HiuHiMedia

November 2, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Posted in Social Media

Tagged with , ,

7 Responses

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  1. Meagan…

    I loved your post. I too, often feel left behind but I’ve finally excepted the fact that (like you said) there is no way to know everything out there. I also like the fact that you realized how media has consumed your life and that you miss the old you and that finding a balance is your new goal. Balance has been a common topic in the few blogs I’ve read for this week. It’s funny how addicting social media can be…I’m actually surprised it hasn’t been addressed yet on a national level. I’m finding myself spending more and more time following Twitter which starting to make me feel like an addict. I have to make a concerted effort to shut everything down so I can concentrate on something that requires deep attention. It’s really hard sometimes cause I do everything on my computer. Maybe we should start a group called “social media anonymous”…

    Carol Welker

    November 3, 2010 at 7:05 am

  2. Immersion is the best way to learn as well as embrace something new and absorb complex concepts and new approaches. Prior to my trip to Germany this summer, I spent a few hours — and a whole lot of dollars — downloading language apps I could use to refresh some of the high school German I learned over twenty years ago.

    Nothing stuck. The only thing that came back was teenage anxiety and frustration. It seemed the only thing that I could say was, “Mein ältester Sohn ist erst fünf, und Sie möchten wissen, ob er noch verheiratet ist. Ich weiß nicht verstehen.” (That means, “My oldest son is only five, and you want to know if he is married yet? I don’t understand.”…it was the only line I had to memorize in a class skit we had to perform in German.)

    Understanding complex concepts and approaches — as well as the ability to adapt and navigate through the language started to happen very quickly once I landed in Berlin. It was because I through myself into a “sink or swim situation.” I could either stay in my hotel room because I was afraid I was going to get lost or head out into the streets and figure out how to be self-reliant in a new environment.

    Trial and error play a huge role when immersing ourselves into something new as well. Many times fear of failure holds us back from trying something new. So, we just sit on the sidelines and hope no one notices we’re not getting much play time out on the field.

    Of course once we start to “get it,” it becomes sublime and all of a sudden, we want more more more!!! The flood gates open (see, “The Rain in Spain,” from My Fair Lady,” and/or Hellen Keller’s “wa-wa” scene from “The Miracle Worker”) and we experience that breakthrough moment that opens our eyes. It is thrilling!!!!

    Immersing ourselves into technology is very similar. Unless we make it a part of our day and add it to the rhythm of our lives, it won’t become a part of our “style.”

    Kevin Sharpe

    November 6, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    • I concur. Today, immersion seems to work really well for me, and I feel like this is new. I used to be able to study in a coffee shop while I sipped cold brew with friends. Today, I just get distracted. Maybe it’s that my studies are finally becoming a challenge (grad school rather than undergrad), or maybe I just have too much going on to just drop everything for a few minutes.

      Megan and I are in the same boat. I’m losing sight of my priorities, feeling like a fraud, and constantly playing catch-up. Is this just a busy time in our lives? With the recent research on attention and presentations from people like Linda Stone, I’m beginning to think this isn’t temporal. Media seems to have infected us, yet we can’t seem to go back or even want to. I have yet to hear someone claiming to have found balance in their new-media life.


      December 1, 2010 at 9:09 pm

  3. Perhaps “style” is more appropriate rather than “addiction.”

    The word addiction seems to be somewhat of an inappropriate cliché that has a negative connotation. “Addiction” seems to be such an easy word to throw around whenever “grownups” embrace something new and start to reshape their lives. I mean, because we put on shoes every day, does that mean we’re addicted to wearing shoes? Or if someone chooses to go around not wear shoes does that mean they’re addicted to being barefoot?

    Why is it that someone is “addicted” to their cellphone, but not addicted to sweaters? My sister says she’s addicted to purses, so does that mean I am addicted to backpacks? These are just choices, preferences that reflect what is comfortable for us.

    I find comfort knowing I have my iPhone in my back pocket, just like I feel secure knowing my wallet is in my other back pocket. I feel awkward if I am not holding my keys when I’m getting ready to shut my house door behind me as I leave for the day. Those are rituals I’ve embraced to ensure I’m able to function the way I want to function.

    I can “function” without my wallet in my back pocket, but then I risk feeling uncomfortable and lack confidence that I know where it is when I need it. So am I addicted to feeling confident?

    I’ve mentioned before how I’m inspired to reduce paper in my life as much as possible. I don’t consider myself to be addicted to not being addicted to reducing paper consumption. Paper’s just not my style! 

    Kevin Sharpe

    November 6, 2010 at 1:07 pm

  4. I understand what you mean Megan. I think sometimes the multitasking creates in us a fight or flight response, like Linda Stone says, which is probably what you’re feeling along with the worry of getting left behind. I think you just need to find a point where you are comfortable with not having to be connected with everything all the time. I remember when I first got my twitter (not my school one), I felt like I had to read everyone’s tweets, even going back to read past ones if I had missed them. When I only followed a few people, it wasn’t a problem, but once I started following more and more people, it was harder for me to go back and read everyone’s. Then I freaked out and didn’t go on Twitter for two months. But, once I came back, I decided that if I missed people’s tweets, it wasn’t a big deal. I read the ones that were most recent, and that’s it. It’s definitely made for a better twitter experience on my part because I am ok with not feeling I have to catch up and read what I missed. If it’s important enough, it’ll become a trend or I’ll see it posted elsewhere on another social site. It’s made for a less stressful Twitter experience.


    November 7, 2010 at 6:39 am

  5. Did I tell you yet this week that you are my twin from different parents? So much of what you write is what I want to say. You have the writing skill I want but I’m sure your jealous of my HALO skills. I miss making art so much I question my current life path. I feel like i never have time to doing any of the things I love, like photography and reading and writing short stories. I want life to be simpler then it was before but like you with your cell, I doubt that is going to happen.

    Unlike you, my parents are technophiles. I don’t remember a time we didn’t have a computer in our house. We where the first people I knew who have internet. I have fond memories of playing Sonic and Mario brothers at friends house. I can’t tell you if having all this stuff had made me thinking faster because I don’t have another version of myself to compare my life to. What I do know is that when this semester is over, I’m going to have a Glee marathon and go take some pictures. Want to come with me?


    November 8, 2010 at 7:19 pm

  6. nice post. i can relate to a lot of what your saying. the part i struggle with is communicating in the social media style. i prefer face-to-face or good old fashion telephone conversations. i guess i’m too impatient to wait for a reply from the person i’m trying to connect. and even though this reply can be instant, i’ll probably be secretly wanting it to contain more content. sometimes i get frustrated by the character limitations.


    November 9, 2010 at 1:24 pm

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