by Geoff Larcom, Published March 04, 2014
YPSILANTI - How many times do you touch your cell phone each day? How many text messages do you send? And, more importantly, what are you missing because your life is so heavily mediated by technology?
If you're too in love with your smart phone, Netflix, or iPad, try experimenting – just for a day – with unplugging. Friday, March 7, 2014 is the fifth annual National Day of Unplugging, when the technology-driven stop for a moment, put down their devices, and otherwise unplug from sundown to sundown.
Reboot, a national group of artists, conceived of the National Day of Unplugging five years ago to encourage hyper-connected people to ritualize a day of rest. Find out more at http://nationaldayofunplugging.com
Eastern Michigan University professor Christine Tracy, who teaches a media ecology class that explores how we interact with the media and how it affects us, is urging the EMU and surrounding communities to use this occasion to take a digital day of rest.
"We all need to wake up and become more aware of our mostly unconscious dependence on technology," says Tracy. "A day-long respite is just the first step toward more enlightened use of our digital tools."
Media ecologists are interested in the role technology plays in human life and how media and communication processes affect human perception and understanding.
“Smart phones are good things, but we become ‘dumb’ when we allow them to over-mediate and control our waking realities,” says Tracy. “We always need a touchstone and an understanding of who we are without any digital tools. It is very important for us to get a glimpse of who and what we could become individually and collectively when we abandon technology and put down our devices - even for a day.”
Tracy is the author of "The Newsphere: Understanding the News and Information Environment," (Peter Lang 2012). The book is a study in how consumers can combat disillusionment with today’s news, which is often so highly dramatized, commercialized and packaged that it is no longer news and certainly not journalism.
Tracy is a media ecologist and communications scholar. She teaches Digital Journalism and Media Ecology classes at Eastern and holds a Ph.D. from Rensselaer, where she edited one of the Web's first ezines, Computer-Mediated Communication magazine.
She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For further discussion, visit Tracy's website and blog at www.ournewsphere.com. "The Newsphere: Understanding the News and Information Environment" is on sale at Amazon.com.