Deprived of media, college students describe ordeal

A research team at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication put 48 college students on a "complete and extended media fast for 48 hours." More cruelly, it required them to write "multiple-page essays" about their experiences.

Among the reactions, shared in a press release about the study, called “Turn Off Everything: The Challenges and Consequences of Going on a Complete and Extended Media Fast":

“I felt immensely powerless and almost naked because I couldn’t use any media.”

“With no books, magazines, movies, newspapers, radio or Internet I felt like half a person.”

“Without the media, I was forced to talk with people directly more often…. Word of mouth and face-to-face dialogue became much more important, given that I had no real sources to consult anymore.”

The j-school's Dr. Harsha Gangadharbatla oversaw the study with grad students Darshan Sawant and Lauren Bratslavsky.

But wait! Don't cancel any planned trips to The Hague, guys; humanity may yet forgive your crimes: "I realized there were so many more things to do then just sit on my ass and be consumed by the media," one wrote.

In 2010, the University of Maryland's Phillip Merrill College of Journalism put 200 students on a 24-hour fast. “I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening,” one student wrote.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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