Did media save my life or did they almost kill me?

If there’s one thing my media does perfectly, it’s creating an escape for me. During the first lockdown, I downloaded TikTok even though I’d always tell myself that it’s the most stupid and useless social media in the world and only kids or influencers I don’t support use it. Yet I was locked in my house with nothing better to do so I downloaded it and obviously, it immediately became my new addiction. At that point I wasn’t in a good place mentally, I didn’t have many people I could talk to and I was stuck in front of my computer for most days doing assignments for an online school. I dramatically lacked social interactions. I don’t know exactly and I don’t think I want to know what was my daily screen time spent on TikTok back then. I also spent hours watching Netflix on my phone. That wouldn’t be that bad if not the fact that I’d just rewatch all my comfort series and films for example Friends, Gilmore Girls, How I Met Your Mother, The Breakfast Club, 10 Things I Hate About You, Me Before You, Love, Rosie. I swear I’ve seen Gilmore Girls at least four times and in fact, I’m rewatching this show now. During my senior year, my screen time increased even more. I don’t even know how I managed to graduate high school. I procrastinated so much, missed deadlines, wouldn’t show up to online classes. At that point, I was already in therapy and taking medication for depression. My therapist told me that it’s common for teenagers to distract and silence themselves (the thoughts) by using media. That’s exactly what I was doing for months. Whenever I got overwhelmed, stressed by the amount of work that I had to do, my unhappiness, a fight I had with my mom, or anything else unpleasant, I’d just open TikTok and scroll or play an episode that I already knew by heart, just to focus on something else than my life. I’d rather think about that girl’s room, outfit, how productive she is in quarantine, how many new recipes she tried that week and shared on TikTok, or watch again how Rory and Jess fight over Rory dropping out of YALE (I swear I know the whole dialogue form that scene by heart). Anyway, at least now I’m aware of my bad habit, I know why I do it, and (in theory) I can stop it because it still happens quite often. There’s just one thing I can’t figure out: Did my media save me or did they cause or at least intensify my depression? Maybe I was in such a bad place that my brain came up with this defense mechanism that was supposed to distract me and my thoughts. On the other hand, maybe I’d have been better if I didn’t download TikTok and didn’t spend hours each day scrolling through my for you page. Maybe then I’d have more time to think about my life and would have gotten help earlier. I’m afraid I’ll never know the answer to that question but I’m not sorry. I try not to regret things I can’t change and besides TikTok actually taught me a lot and now I can use this knowledge. To sum up quickly: I think I love my media. We don’t have a very healthy relationship, in fact it’s a bit toxic but what love isn’t hard?

student ID: 13978551

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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