Boggling my mind with silence

Alexis Jacquett

Alexis Jacquett

GROSSMONT COLLEGE — Jim Papageorge, professor of Mass Media and Society, had given a Media Deprivation assignment to his students, “Learning to appreciate, understand, and fear mass media by doing without…” The purpose of the assignment was for the students to deny themselves mass media communications and modern communications technology for the first and most likely only time in their lives.

What that meant in short was, no mass media– including but not limited to all printed media, all audio media, television, videos, films, computers, and smart phones. After students completed  48 continuous hours, they gave a short report explaining their reactions to the experience of the deprivation. Papageorge has been giving this assignment to his students for many semesters.

Papageorge said when he was in college he had to do a similar assignment.  His students could choose any two-day period between October 6 and October 20. This assignment required students to experience an old-fashioned way of living similar to the times before mass media consumption dominated much of human life.

A majority of the students reported “that they utilized their time by talking to their families, something they hadn’t done in a long time,” Papageorge said.  Another student said “she surrounds herself with loud music most of the time, so driving in pure silence almost drove her crazy.” The message Papageorge wanted to show was that “students fill up their lives with mass media at the expense of human interpersonal communication.”

As one of the students who participated in the assignment, the hardest thing for me was to deny myself the use of the telephone. I am constantly involved in text wars and long conversations on the phone but for this assignment  I had to turn off my cell phone. I frequently picked it up only to realize it’s off.

I love music so during the enforced two days of techno-silence, I sang songs that popped into my head while cleaning my messy but awfully quiet room. I played the block-building game of Jenga in silence which was funny because when the blocks fell it was startling. Overall the assignment didn’t give me too much grief because, except for the aforementioned and Facebook, I don’t consume a whole lot of mass media.

Jacquett is a student in Media Comm 132