After originally introduced as an assignment, I decided to dive deeper into the concept of a media diet. In this age, information is constantly being thrown in our faces in various forms. Phones, computers, TVs, iPods – each form of technology opens up a world of media platforms. When was the last time you actually thought about how many types of media you come across on a daily basis? It’s a normal part of our culture, so much so that no one ever gives it a second thought.
I would say as a college-aged female with an interest in pop culture, my media diet results probably resemble many other people with similar tastes (Snapchat, Instagram, Netflix… the list goes on and on). However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that my media diet is balanced. Should we think of our media diet in literal terms? We tend to focus our efforts on balancing our food diets in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle but is a balanced media diet also necessary?
An article in the Columbia Journalism Review asked the question: why am I consuming this news?
“Is it news I consume by falling into a click-hole, through mindless procrastination, or because I feel I should consume it, to be in the know or to boost my image?”
The key word here: MINDLESS
If I were to think of this media diet in literal terms as a food diet, I could categorize these media outlets based on how necessary they really are and what my purpose is for using them. Sites such as Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook would be snack foods – sites that I don’t necessarily need to use and don’t necessarily actively engage in on a day to day basis. I (and many people in our generation) have an unhealthy obsession with mindlessly checking the never-ending feeds on various forms of social networks simply to pass the time. Although I visit these apps hourly, am I really gaining any useful information from them?
When I think of my parents’ generation I picture their media diet mainly consisting of the nightly news, morning newspapers, and leisure books. Would their generation’s media usage be categorized as a more “healthy” media diet? Although my social media obsessions are unlikely to change in the near future, I am more conscious of my habits. Having an unbalanced media diet isn’t exactly harmful but maybe I will be able to balance my diet, for the sake of eliminating mindless procrastination.