Media brings you closer and further apart

In general, I don’t necessarily use media often. I don’t like to binge Netflix and I don’t keep up with the youtubers I’m subscribed to. My friends even make fun of me, that out of all people, I wanted to study media and culture at university. However, there is something, a specific reason, why I love and hate media, use media, and wanted to study media. Relationships. Or better so, the ability to keep in touch, or not, with people by ‘having’ media.

I grew up mainly in the Netherlands, where I am from, but the last two years I have studied in England. This was a big step, as I left my amazing and comfortable ‘bubble’. My small neighbourhood, where I know everyone and would only have to bike only a small distance to catch up with people. For the first time I really ‘needed’ media, especially social media, to be able to keep contact with my friends from the Netherlands. Instagram and Snapchat, to see the things they are currently doing and by seeing that, not having the feeling I missed something, because I saw it. WhatsApp and Facetime, to have conversations as if they are sitting right next to me. If it weren’t for media, I possibly wouldn’t have kept as many friends as I have from the Netherlands. Now that I have returned to the Netherlands, after two years, I still feel the need of social media, to be able to keep in contact with people. Friends, this time from England, that are a sea away and even my Dutch friends, who study in a different city. Media helps us to be with each other and I believe this is something special. The reason why I love media, and the fact that I have grown up in a time where this is not only possible but is considered normal. Now, losing contact with someone is an option, not a factor related to distance. Because of media, the physical distance between people has disappeared, the emotional distance however, can weirdly enough be enormous. 

Namely, media makes us lose the ‘touch’ with people. Not my friends that are on the other side of the country or world, but the ones that are sitting right next to me. For example, when we are sitting at a terrace, having a great time and chatting about nothing special in particular. The moment I take a sip of my drink and my friend looks quickly at her phone. That ‘tick’, if you will, is why I dislike media. She is quickly looking at what she has ‘missed’ for the past fifteen minutes and replying to some texts. Whilst I’m just sitting there, waiting for her to put her phone down again. I feel distant from my friend, even though she is sitting right next to me. The way in which she is so invested in her phone, that it feels that she completely forgot that I’m even there. How can a phone have that much power? That you feel the need to look at it if you haven’t done so for a while. How can it be that more important to reply to those messages, of people that are miles away, instead of ‘replying’ to the person sitting right next to you. 

Media is a special tool that we can use to keep in touch with people, even though you are a sea away. Media does however hold a special ‘grip’ on us. This makes us distant from each other, as our phone can feel like the most important thing in the room. Media therefore has a love-hate relationship in my heart, but I am overall very lucky to be able to even have this feeling, as media is still to be considered a rather ‘new thing’.

Valentina Berg-Andersen, 13824910


Published by Life in Media

Website dedicated to the Media Life/Life in Media project of Mark Deuze, Professor of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands).

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