The day before my news blackout was a day of suspense and fear. I had told all my friends about it, pulling their teeth for sympathy and pity about my two days of hell. Instead of any compassion, my friend rubbed it in: “I hope someone huge dies tomorrow so you won’t know about it for a whole two days,” he told me. I screamed at the statement as it hit me that huge news could break tomorrow and I would be completely oblivious. Knowing my own weaknesses, I took precautionary measures to pull myself away from the news, distracting myself from my engrained impulse to keep checking my phone. Even then, I accidently consumed news a couple times, highlighting how inconspicuously news drives my day. At the end of my two days, I confirmed my beliefs about the importance of news in my life because of my uncomfortable boredom without news and my jealousy towards those who knew what was going on in the world.
I entered the blackout with a preconception about my obsession with news and took preventative measures to curb my impulses. On a normal morning, my ritual would include checking all avenues of news right away: email alerts, news home pages and Facebook. In anticipation, I gave my Facebook password to my friend and signed out of my other social media and news applications. I turned off push notifications and moved my news apps to a different page in my I-phone. I even downloaded a new Kindle book on my I-phone so I would have at least something on my phone to peruse. And I told most of my friends about my blackout, hoping for some external accountability. I was forced to acknowledge my addiction and move around pieces in my life to accommodate the change.
I will admit to at least a couple of times that news slipped through the cracks and entered my purview. Once, I forgot about my blackout and checked the weather and, at another point, I saw a YouTube video with a friend before remembering that I was banned from even the innocent-looking YouTube. News is everywhere. It is not just the New York Time’s morning email or Twitter. It flows in and out of our day without any blinking sign or warning. So much so, that despite my precautions, I still ended up accidentally “cheating” on my assignment.
The new book on my phone was a self-made precaution that significantly helped. In retrospect, the fact that I needed a new Kindle book was indicative of my extremely impulsive behavior. In any lull during the conversation around me, I felt the need to read something. It was almost automatic. If I was on the elliptical, I had to be reading something. It was the same if I was walking to class, waiting in line for food or going to bed. Without the news, I missed having something productive to do in the dull moments of my life, filling the gaps of silence with the words on my I-phone. The unoccupied and empty minutes were uncomfortable and unusual. Just observing or resting was not natural. In many ways, current events are my escape from the world immediately around me and a telescope into the world further away.
The people around me not only noticed my discomfort, they deliberately teased me about my unknowledgeable state. “My suitemate is a journalism major and she has to have a news black out and I swear she is almost going to have an epileptic seizure,” my suitemate told her friend on the phone. The peers around me knew to rub it in when they got a breaking news alert, whispering amongst each other about the UN’s invitation to Iran to the peace talks. To them, I was the epitome of a news junkie and a two-day news blackout was fodder for bullying. I realized that news withdrawal was the worst when I knew that others were more in tuned than me. When my friend whispered to another about the invitation, a sinking feeling of exclusion fell into my stomach. News is important because we collectively stay current and share our individual knowledge. If everyone took two days off of current events with me, my discomfort wouldn’t be so intense.
News is the driving force of my day, as I expected. I missed the productive, individual activities to fill the dull moments in my day. I accidently was consuming news when I didn’t realize it and I felt left out in the bullying tactics of my friends. I wasn’t “in the know” anymore and I wasn’t part of the conversation. I was behind on my reading and I wasn’t having any of it.
News Literacy in the Digital Age: Essay 1
I spent most of the weekend participating in sorority recruitment with my friends. Although that was a good distraction during my news blackout, I still had a feeling of boredom and discomfort throughout the weekend.
It was tough looking at all number of unread emails that built up over the weekend. I knew that 75 percent of them were email news alerts.
Here is the tops news that I missed during my news blackout!