Monday, July 27, 2009

Turn off, tune out, calm down

Want to decrease anxiety, have more time, and lose weight? Give up Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, videogames, television and movies.

These are just some of the benefits reported by students who met the challenge of Trinity Western University Associate Professor of Philosophy, Robert Doede. Grades also improve.

Each spring, Doede offers a 5% bonus credit to Philosophy 210 students who "abstain from all social and traditional media throughout the three month semester, and journal about their experiences." Usually about a dozen from a class of 35 will give it a try, with 4-6 succeeding.

The professor says, "“Students can’t wait to get out of class to update, find out if anyone commented on their page or sent them anything. Their spare time is being more and more devoted to keeping so-called friends apprised of their lives and satisfying their own voyeuristic interests in others’ lives."

"Our culture provides an over abundance of information access. We have so much we can’t linger on anything in particular or access anything for long because then we are losing out,” says Doede. "This creates a subtle anxiety from within us as we try to be as efficient and as rapid-fire as possible in as many domains of our life as possible.”

His media-abstinent students agree. 21-year-old, Hannah Jenkins wrote “I think Facebook and meaningless television (which is not all television) owe a huge percentage of their success to people being dissatisfied with their lives... we have invented ways to avoid our shortcomings instead of looking them in the eye and overcoming them. Screens...offer an escape from reality but for so many people they become the reality, and the inadequacies which they were trying to escape simply mount higher.”

Trinity Western University is in Langley, B.C

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