Introduction to Media Fasting

This week I am going to ask you to participate in a media fast for TV Turn-Off Week, as part of the Media Fasting Reflection due on May 3.

If you give up TV, but watch DVDs on your computer, are you really making any progress? If you turn off the TV, but turn up your iPod, are you really taking control of the technology that defines our lives?

Confession time:

While we don’t have cable TV, we do have a fairly big library of kid videos. Sometimes I’ll put on a video for them and sit on the couch with my laptop, answering e-mail, despamming my blog, marking a paper, or fiddling with my digital camera. If the movie ends and I’m not finished, I’ll get them interested in the bloopers or deleted scenes. So my desire to spend time on the internet leads directly to their exposure to more TV.

I’ve tried to address that by creating “the book game,” which involves Peter (8) picking out a book, Carolyn (4) picking out a book, and me picking out a book. Peter and Carolyn will sit on the couch, and Peter will read all the books to Carolyn. Yes, on one level this is very good, but I’m conscious that I use “the book game” when I want to see what’s happening on the blogosphere.

I also sometimes use “the book game” to avoid playing with my daughter’s Barbie. So while naturally as an English teacher and a parent I’m going to say that books are good, here I’m turning to media — books — when my daughter is asking me for one-on-one attention. (It’s not the idea of playing dolls with my daughter that bothers me. Why, the other day I was playing with my daughter’s pony castle, and I made an army of insect peasants rise up in rebellion against their pony overlords. They fought an epic battle, and our leaders — a horned beetle and Pinky Pie ™ agreed to settle this dispute in single combat, then had a tea party, had a bath together, and took a nap. But Barbie just kind of lies there staring up at me.) —Dennis G. JerzIntroduction to Media Fasting (Introduction to Literary Study)