Senior Class Media Fast

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           October 26, 2016


I was the substitute teacher yesterday for a high school teacher who teaches seniors literature and rhetoric. The subject matter for the day was uneventful…study hall! The other major event, however, was causing the weeping and gnashing of teeth- a two day media fast!

One of the books the rhetoric classes had been reading dealt with the influence of media upon people’s lives, how it shapes our minds and opinions, and occupies much of our time. Mr. Reed, the veteran teacher, had his students commit to a 48-hour fasting from music, cell phones, TV, computers, listening to sports talk radio, and any other forum of media.

The fast began at the start of the school day, 7:45 A.M. Like confident marathon runners at the beginning of a race, surrounded by cheering crowds, the students approached the starting line of the day. In the midst of the confidence there was a heightened level of disgruntlement. Most of the seniors saw the fast as an annoyance as opposed to a learning experience. It was going to mess with their routines!

Twenty minutes into the first class two young ladies asked if they could go to the library to check on a couple of books. At 8:18 they came back repenting! On their way to the library they encountered one of the middle school teachers that they knew. He was watching a funny video on his cell phone and invited them to view the thirty-second clip also. Like bugs drawn to the light they leaned in close to the small screen, watched and laughed…and then realized! They had broken the fast less than thirty minutes after beginning. Aghast at their transgression, they limped back into the classroom and confessed of their fallen nature. One of their classmates wrote their names on the board with the time, “8:18” beside it! They recognized that this media thing was a seductive temptress!

In the next class three boys got into a discussion about whether watching that night’s Game 1 of the World Series was exempt from the media fast. Two of them were Cub’s fans. The last time the Cubs won the World Series media consisted of two tin cans and a string, as well as newspapers. Surely watching the baseball game would be allowed, almost like a last steak dinner for a condemned criminal…outside the laws of reason but within the realm of grace! One student hinted of deception.

“I don’t care! I’m going to watch it!”

“You can’t!”

“No one needs to know!”

An afternoon class amused me with a conversation between several boys about not being able to play their game systems for two days. One boy confessed that he had spent a quarter of the past year playing some on-line game in which he was ranked seventh in the world.

“Dude! Twenty-five percent of your life this past year? That’s six hours a day…every day!”

“Yes! My mom doesn’t know! I don’t think she would be very happy!”

His friend, still amazed and wondering about whether his classmate had any common sense, “Dude! Are you kidding me? That’s like all you’ve done is eat and play video games!”

“I know…crazy, isn’t it?”

I could tell his friend wanted to say “No…stupid, is what it is!”, but instead he just shook his head.

Media is second nature for most people these days, like dressing and combing one’s hair in the morning. For young people these days, if someone wants to be a radical then being “disconnected” would qualify. It’s counter-cultural! Earlier this year I was guest teacher in another class of senior students studying world political systems. The assignment for the day was to find articles on-line that supported their view on democracy. Everyone had a smart phone! Everyone! And everyone searched for news articles, editorials, blog posts to back up what they thought they believed.

Media shapes minds and influences people. The point of the high school teacher in pushing for the media fast was to make that point. From there my guess is he will spend some time talking about how the media can feed its audience mis-information that will be accepted as true! Glitzy graphics and emotion-inducing music can sometimes be more convincing than the facts!

I wish I could have subbed for Mr. Reed again today to hear of the pain and suffering…the media pangs, if you will…of the first twenty-four hours. Would the one student confess to his World Series infraction? Would there be tears from a few over having to drive home from school in silence? Would a few look haggard and bleary-eyed?

And would there be some who began to understand?

Explore posts in the same categories: children, Freedom, Humor, Story, Uncategorized, Youth

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