Shower Thoughts: My Media

My Relationship with Media…

and yes,

I capitalised the word relationship for emphasis. This relationship is up there with a level of importance similar to that which I have with my family, friends, partner or better yet with myself. 

I am in a relationship with media. 

A turbulent, fluctuating one. 

We have grown up together, grown apart, broken up, gotten back together…

This relationship is one that brings out feelings of passion and joy one day and fear, sadness the next. Toxic one might say.

Then again, media to me has been my friend, my partner along the road. And yes this sounds cheesy, and maybe even my love for cheesiness comes from the media that I’ve been exposed to over the years. 

I could type a lengthy list of digital platforms that I have used, books, magazines, films and series that I have binge-watched, read and worshipped. But I won’t. I’m enjoying the bird’s eye view here.

Media has made me reflect on tough topics, empowered me to learn and seek new levels of mental growth and most importantly it has opened my mind to diversity beyond my physical social circles. Thanks to my exposure to media I have become a better version of myself.

Media has been in many instances a helpful companion: maps have helped me not get lost down a strange city, search engines have quickly answered weird questions about rashes on my skin, reassured me on doubts about sex, about maths when I was too embarrassed to ask the teacher… Keeping me calmly distracted during sickness and quarantines, helping me stay connected with long distance relationships, it has been a tool that I am to this day grateful to have access to. I can see the beneficial aspects of interacting with it.

Nevertheless, like other man-made tools, there is always a risk of getting hurt

Media (specifically social media) has triggered me to doubt my personality, my body, my choices. Doubts that in the end HAVE made me more resilient but that I wish I could’ve also skipped altogether. Some insecurities grow in your mind like mould. Some thoughts are better left unthought.

Social media as a tween and teen was hard to handle. A constant degrading comparison between the number of “friends” and likes you have (or in my case don’t have), how «fun» your weekend was, how many “friends” post wishes on your birthday.

I reached a point in my early twenties where I knew something had to change.

Ever since I have been constantly reconsidering My Relationship with Social Media. A healthy relationship should be about give and take no? So what is social media giving me? But most importantly, what am I giving it? 

These last few years I’ve been asking myself the hard questions. Putting up boundaries.

What do I want to get out of the time I spend online? What pages do I follow? What messages are they sending me? Are the thoughts that cross my mind when I see their posts good? Inevitably this leads me to cleanse. I unfollow, unfriend, block and keep going. Every couple months the questions evolve.

Why did I post this? Do I really like how it looks or do I just want to fit in by posting it? 

Questioning myself like this helps me feel grounded and in control, but then again, what am I giving to social media? My time, my energy, my mental space. Even the time I take to reconsider my engagement online is time “spent” on social media.

It’s a constant motion of ebbs and flows trying to each a point of satisfaction with this relationship. Often detoxing for days so as to not even have to question my interaction with it, sometimes permanently deleting accounts. Selecting which few platforms to engage in.

I often think about the what if

What if I lived in the early 1800s where the only media I was exposed to were books from local authors and the small circulation newspapers of my region?

What would be different? What would be the same?

Would my emotional intellect be less? Would I be less empathetic and open minded? 

Would I be more confident, have less self-sabotaging thoughts?

How would my love life be different? Communicating through long thought-out letters instead of instant messaging?

Mark mentioned a similar thought in one of his Q&A sessions. I’m paraphrasing here but he mentioned that people wouldn’t necessarily be so different to their current state of mind if social media didn’t exist. That media doesn’t MAKE us do or think things we wouldn’t otherwise do. That we as humans have this potential inside us with or without media. Is this really true? So would the woman from the 1800s be similar to the woman I am today?

One of the main reasons why I chose to study media was for this very same thought process. Evidently, I want to feel in control of my relationship with media, I keep asking myself questions. I want to understand my media and myself better. I’m often having these shower thoughts and interrogations with myself. So what better way to feel in control than to learn more about it? Its workings, its influences… let the brainstorming begin.

Student ID 13877828

Published by Media Love

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

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