Note: This is the first of many posts that will be made by students in Lisa Perks’ Media Marathoning course at Nazareth College.
From Student Elise Miklich:
This evening I attended my first ever Zen meditation class. The instructor took the participants through several steps to ultimately learn how to “be in the now.”
“The reality is, you’re not going to be able to stop your thoughts,” the instructor said, “but by focusing on breathing we can learn to tune them out.”
This process of tuning out one’s thoughts is something that occurs not only in Zen meditation but in media marathoning, too. To take this idea a step further, people may even “practice” media marathoning if it is something they do often to de-stress, or escape. To a Zen Master, this comparison may seem like day and night, but to the average American, media marathoning is a time to forget the worries of the world and allow your brain to enter a whole new dimension.
Before I found the meditation course, I admit that watching hours of a television show or a trilogy of movies was a go-to tactic to remove myself from reality. By sucking myself into the television I could easily ignore the daily duties and responsibilities that brought on anxiety, much like Rohrbacher does in Jurgensen’s article “Binge Viewing: TV’s Lost Weekend.” At a time when I felt as if my world was spinning out of control, all I had to do was watch 4 hours of Intervention on Hulu and in an instant my melancholia disappeared.
Turns out I’m not alone. A study, conducted by sociologists at the University of Maryland, actually shows that people who watch the most television are those who generally describe themselves as unhappy. This unhappiness is not brought on by the action of watching television, but rather remedied for a short while by doing it. A summary of the study says that “tuning in” to media really is an easy way for people to “tune out” of reality.