On the back of Tuesday’s post about the wastefulness of fantasy football, I couldn’t help but smile when that great bastion of literature, the Herald Sun, had a front page ad on Wednesday spruiking their forthcoming Super Coach season.
Shane Crawford (I think it was you!), I liked you better in Celebrity Apprentice. Not that I watched…
I had a friend stop me in my tracks on the weekend.
She was telling me how last year, she had gone on a media fast for Lent.
Naturally, my ears pricked up. She then went on to explain how she had shut down all online reading, including blogs, as well as TV, DVDs, films, newspapers and magazines.
I was immediately challenged.
Ever since I moved to Shanghai for a couple of years at the end of 2005, I have been pretty much joined to the hip of the net. That coincided with getting a good internet connection at home for the first time and it provided an excellent means of staying in touch with news and people back home.
It also led to an inordinate amount of time playing online poker, getting across a range of sports and pop culture news and creating a Facebook account.
6 years on and the poker is a thing of the past and Facebook doesn’t eat into too much of my time. However, the surfing for news and pop culture and sporting tidbits continued in earnest.
Obviously with the removal of (nearly!) all sporting news over the last 282 days – yes I just counted! – there has been a reduction in the amount of time spent surfing the net.
But not enough.
One of the positives of the journey is that I am across a wide range of global and local news. I have a heightened awareness of the environment, the global food crisis, the broken global economic model and national and international politics. Plus you can’t help but avoid the major sporting news, so it’s not like you’re completely out of the loop.
I also know more about a few movie stars than I’d care to admit and the irregular check-ups on Facebook have become more of an everyday occurrence. And, as we saw last week, with the Dermott Brereton sexual put-down, there’s also some petty, insignificant trash that I wish I’d never heard about in the first place.
I feel a bit like Leo McGarry in Season 6 of The West Wing when he started the 365 day countdown. There’s only so much time you have to make your mark. Tragically, so did the real-life John Spencer. In less than 3 months, my time will be my own to do with it as I please.
I will also be a father by then.
And then this…
I was considering the best way to respond to my friend’s journey and thinking of my own habits and possible areas to sacrifice for Lent when the following image and story landed on my screen.
If I was thinking about it, my mind was made up now.
I don’t watch many docos, in fact I don’t watch enough. I noted the ones that were nominated for Oscars and hope to catch them over the next few months. Sports fans – Undefeated is apparently well worth a look!
I did, however, watch the Sunday night special on Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith. This behemoth of a man shared his story about what happened in the incident that led him to being awarded the Victoria Cross medal, the highest accolade for a member of the military.
It was inspirational and uplifting, whatever your view may be on our role in Afghanistan.
That media commentators responded to this incredible story by questioning his manhood is infuriating.
Worse still is that I have to read about it. Idiotic opinions of this ilk have no place as headline news. They should be privately censured and receive no mainstream attention for being intentionally provocative.
So, if I was on the cusp before this (‘cusp’ – great word!), I was well and truly off the ledge after it.
And so begins a month or so without surfing the internet.
I’ve decided to do things a bit differently than my friend in not doing an entire media fast. DVDs and TV are not yet off the table.
Music in the car on my way to and from work, on the other hand, will be. For my friend, this wasn’t noise. For me, however, as I drive about, my mind wanders into emptiness and the time could be far more constructively used. This is 40 minutes a day, over 3 hours a week.
It will probably extend to newspapers as well, though as the Herald Sun is the delivered paper in the staffroom, this won’t exactly be a great loss to my ongoing education in prose.
Blocking out the noise
The philosophy behind my friend’s decision was to ‘block out the noise’. It’s a theme that fits with Tuesday’s posting regarding the space that 400,000+ Australians and over 23 million Americans have filled with playing Fantasy Football and this journey overall.
My next few weeks won’t be a total blackout, but with The Age, Grantland – my pop culture fix + sporting temptation – and even Facebook reading off the list of possibilities, I will be interested to see how this plays out. (Blogger’s disclaimer – I will still be notifying friends in this forum of new posts.)
It’s only been a day and without jumping online, the iPhone battery is already lasting longer. See – there’s always silver linings!
Coming up in next Tuesday’s post – a response to a question from Mrs YWS, ‘Are all distractions worthless??’ Of course there’s only one answer to this, but unpacking it will be worth our while!