Are you a media-phile? I’ll bet you are and don’t even know it. What’s a “mediaphile”? Someone who has the same excitement for pop culture media as a bibliophile has for books. No, it’s not just TV stuff like America Has Talent or Game of Thrones, it’s all the “screen” time we spend on TVs, smart phones, audio streaming, gaming, and social media, which may or may not include the aforementioned programs.
When I read James Poniewozik’s, The Paradox of Television’s New Golden Age, and You Don’t Have Time to Watch it; (Time Magazine, The View, June 22, 2015), it had me pause for introspection. Am I a mediaphile? I mean, sure, I do social media, check emails on my smart phone, chill out with a few tunes and stare at nothing, watch a little TV at night. The suffix –phile, seems rather extreme, like foodophiles, Potterphiles, or spermophiles (okay you pottyminded-philes, it’s not what you think; see below). Mediaphile conjures visions of attending weekly Media Anonymous intervention meetings. Hi, my name is DT. I’m a mediaphile. Of which fellow participants somberly greet, Hi DT, followed by a reminder to turn off our smart phones. Sidebar questions like Have you seen the last three episodes American Horror Story, are greatly discouraged.
James Poniewozik’s article summarized the state of today’s TV programming on hundreds of cabled channels (paraphrased).
Assuming you hook up an IV drip, pop 5-Hour Energy and forgo news, reality shows, talk shows, movies, sports, commercials, meals, your kid’s graduations and the touch of lover (unless you multitask), it would take 146 days to watch over 350 scripted series totaling 3,520 hours of programming.
Though the article focused primarily on TV and cable programming, he pointed out something most of us already suspect, but are likely in denial of.
Americans spend over nine hours a day on screens, most of that on computers and mobile devices … now increasingly dedicated to delivering video, uploaded by friends, clipped from late-night shows, or shared by your uncle on Facebook.
Wow. Do I do that? Wait a minute, my smart phone chirped. Got a message to check my Facebook page.
Okay, I’m back. Friend of mine said the new-season opener Orange is the New Black is killer and I need to watch it. What’s that honey? Oh cool, new grandson pictures are up on share file. What, I can’t hear you; let me take out these ear buds. Right, sorry, four simultaneous DVR recordings on cable rabbit are preempting Property Brothers. Cancel the open Heroes of Warcraft on my tablet and stream the program. Yes dear, the recipe you want is on my Pinterest board, Yummy. Can’t get on because my twitter feed is clogging the internet router? Can I do it later? I’m behind on my blog reads. OBW, are we facetiming with the kids later?
I’m a writer, so I’m expected to spend serious screen time writing. Want to know what’s impeding my progress some days? My blog, my analytics, Twitter, Facebook, 200 emails a day on three separate accounts … my near OCD compulsion to skim the Pinterest account. God forbid I comment on someone’s post that conveniently “updates” my smart phone feed with everybody else’s comment that end with a minimum of five emoticons. Don’t even get me started on research browsing for the novel, which has a nasty habit sucking me into its labyrinth of non-related tags. Did you know the difference between use of the adjective “terrestrial”, and the noun “spermophile”, is that terrestrial is a botany term for ground-dwelling plant, while spermophile refers to a burrowing rodent or ground squirrel? Sure you did.
It’s kind of a double edged sword. Writers lament a shrinking audience of readers who’ve defected to the addictive eye-candy of visual media, but surf some of the writer discussion loops, and don’t be surprised if you see: Did you see last night’s Outlander. OMG. (Insert smiley face with tongue hanging out).
I took some good advice and remediated myself. No social media in the morning, my prime writing period, which isn’t hampered by mid-afternoon honey-dos or early evening adult beverages (which is prime time for social media, as long as I give all comments a few minutes to pickle before hitting send). Blog counts as writing. TV programming is strictly for later evening, which will require all of Poniewozik’s 146 full days to get through. Last time I binged recorded programs in the man cave, the sun came up before I did. The windfall of savings from not exceeding data bytes by axing Twitter on the smart phone, made it very worthwhile. It was a tough decision, but Hootsuite helps me manage real human tweets and screen guys in fedoras posting five times a day, hawking their latest murder mystery. I alternate evenings away from TV with reading … most of the time … unless I’m going out … then I have to honor a two-fer next couple of nights … unless I’m out two nights in a row … oh, never mind.
I like the way Poniewozik ended his article with a suggested prayer.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the TV I can’t see, the wisdom to know the TV I must see, and the courage to change the channel.”
I’d like add my own take on it. God grant me the wisdom to occasionally leave my smart phone on the dresser, the courage to switch-off my social media feeds, and the serenity to pick up a book and read.
When you get a moment between binging House of Cards, texting emoticons, or posting your dinner entree on Instagram, let me know what your thoughts are on our addiction to media overload.
If you liked this article, show the love by liking it back. Forget everything I said above and visit my Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages. Yes, I’m a mediaphile… and proud of it … except on Tuesdays at my intervention meeting, where I have to confess to being a big, fat mediaphile basket case.