Fact: This blog post was supposed to be up two days ago on Friday, but I have no regrets putting it off until just now, because I just came back from a trip to Blue Mountains (with my significant other who has, unfortunately, been the target of all the whining and complaining I’ve been throwing around for the past month about not having had a decent break for about more than half a year – now I’ve got it at last) which has given me so much more insights into the matter.
During my weekend in the breathlessly picturesque Blue Mountains, I did something I don’t do very usually – I switched off my mobile data connection most off the time, except for at the beginning and the end of each day to message my family and close friends. That means I was no longer everywhere at the same time – in other words, I cut myself off from the multi-media-spaces I had so deeply been in.
“…media, space and event are thoroughly imbricated.”
“What we understand as media networks and media domains … are part of the material and experiential formation of what now constitutes life in public spaces.”
– Berry, Harbord, & Moore in Public Space, Media Space (2013) –
A single electronic device – a laptop, a smartphone – now acts as a gate to a multitude of interweaving media spaces simultaneously. A few clicks/taps and one can switch from web browser to Instagram to Facebook in seconds; and with background data synchonisation, a person can actually have their online presence everywhere at the same time. And I will from this point call it media-apparition.
“Apparition is a magical method of transportation, [of which the users] disappear from their current location and instantly reappear at the desired location. In short, Apparition is a form of teleportation.”
– Harry Potter wikia –
Not much of a difference there, isn’t it? It’s an everyday thing for university students actually – not many can claim they don’t go onto social media platforms or browse the web or do something unrelated to the lesson when they bring their laptops in lectures.
The point here is, giving all the media-apparition a pause for three days gave me the chance to be mindful of the one (physical) space I was in. My memories of the trip are more vivid than any other ones before, and the pictures taken for keepsake – rather than for a Facebook album – have so much more depth to them. (Click on the individual pictures for larger size or hover pointer over them for captions)
The problem with media-apparition is that it deprives us of actual mindfulness. By being everywhere at once, we end up being (in its truest sense – be present) nowhere at all.
In the last session at university, I had been using my laptop to take notes in three out of four classes, and I did notice that I was not completely there in any of those classes. Given the fact that most classes I take (or generally speaking, most classes for a student doing Communication and Media Studies) are heavily text-based and require quick access to some media platforms (e.g. Twitter for BCM212) even during the lectures, still, with the laptop screen up in front, I felt this palpable wall separating me from actually participating.
And so, this session, I decided to carry out a little self-experiment: I would get back to the old pen-and-paper style. Well, not exactly, since I would be using my tablet with the stylus to write in OneNote, but I would switch off all Internet connections and any other apps, and that means it’s just a hi-tech version of pen and paper.
I will constantly update the progress of the experiment here under the BCM241 category. It would mostly be pointing out the differences between my uni experiences in the two sessions, some further thoughts, and other intriguing sources I discover. I hope you guys enjoy!