It is midnight. I promised myself I would go to bed an hour and a half ago. My eyes burn but I squint the left to give it a break. Alternating for another twenty minutes they now refuse to open. Exhausted, I realize it is officially time to put the phone down.
Sun hits my face, I grumble turning over I absentmindedly reach for the phone. I scan my finger over the screen searching through social media for anything I must have missed in the 7 hours I was asleep. A photo of someones dog, a few engagement pictures from the wedding blogs I follow, a sunrise with a quote. Absolutely nothing.
This morning/night routine is nothing odd. This happens more often that I would like to admit. I’m getting much better about it though. My generation gets a lot of hate because we are supposedly lazy entitled narcissist. But with the amount of information at our fingertips and very little tools on how to accurately take in this information, it’s no wonder we get distracted. Supposedly, college is the place where we learn the skills to analyze and synthesize information. But higher education, as well as secondary education, really hasn’t caught up with the information overload we have. Proper media literacy education is lacking.
In The Information Diet, by Clay A. Johnson, he makes the case for conscious consumption. Considering he is arguing the point from the perspective of someone who has lived without the constant stream of information that we have today, I can’t imagine what the youngest generation deals with. Even Johnson has a difficult time reminding himself to consume wisely. I recently spoke to a friend who is a few years older than me. We both agreed that in some ways we felt we were more confident in high school. The end of my high school experience coincided with the rise of social media (Facebook, Twitter). Back then you only had those on television and your friends to harshly compare yourself to (we are talking about a teenage girl here). Now, in a single hashtag search I can find thousands of girls in scantly clad bikinis to judge myself against.
Students in grade schools today have never lived without this. They have never known a time with the constant inundations of smart phones, computers, iPads, Facebook, smart tv’s, Instagram, twitter, snapchat. If we as adults have a difficult time dealing with all this information how can we expect them to? Our education system does little to foster the capability of young students (and eventually adults) to handle this.
There are some schools out there working with a project based learning model that address the need for media literacy in our education system. Organizations like NAMLE, MediaLit, The Message Movement, and Media Education Foundation have started the conversation. But on a large scale media literacy is overlooked.
If I think about all the things I consume on a daily basis, it gets pretty disgusting. So what if we think about information as a diet? Can we really control what we put in our minds the same way we can with what we put in our bodies?