This week, I chose to document my media usage during a typical school day. How does your digital consumption stack up?
6:45 a.m. – Check notifications: When I wake up, the first thing I do is check my notifications for messages from friends or major news updates. In an attempt to limit the time I spend reading negative news stories, the only news apps I keep notifications on for are AZCentral and the Associated Press. Seeing no messages or major breaking news, I move on to checking my socials.
7:00-7:30 a.m. – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat: Out of all the social media apps I check each day, I spend the most time on Instagram. I love seeing what my friends are up to, and I like to scroll through my feed looking for art and home design inspiration. I breeze through Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, and then I am off to class.
7:45 a.m. – FM Radio: On my way to school, I listen to my local radio station. My car’s radio is broken, so it has been stuck on the FM station Mix 96.9 for weeks now. The morning show, “Priscilla and Joey”, focuses on celebrity news. They usually play music ranging from the nineties to current music. Although I don’t have much of a choice when it comes to radio options, tuning in lets me forget about my own worries and listen to other people’s problems.
8:45 a.m.-9:00 a.m. – Twitter: As I wait for my first class to start, I do a brief social media check in. Today, I open Twitter and see mostly tweets about “personal news.” I do find a funny tweet about Halloween, which I appreciate.
8:48 a.m. – Associated Press app: I get an AP notification about a story about the conviction of two men who conspired to kidnap the governor of Michigan in 2020. The headline sounds familiar, so I briefly skim through the article and remember the original story from two years ago.
10:20 a.m.-11:45 a.m. – Canvas via Safari: After class, I head to one of my school’s libraries and get some homework done. I log into Canvas, the site my school uses for class materials, and read about opportunity costs for my economics course.
10:45 a.m. – Slack: In the library, I get a Slack message from my band director asking me to confirm how many piccolos are in marching band this year. I respond immediately (try as I might to unplug during the day, I am always on Slack).
1:15 p.m. – Instagram: When my last class ends, I check in on my favorite social media platform before I leave campus. As usual, there is nothing more than a friend’s post on Instagram about the start of the semester. I like her post, then head to my car to get back home.
1:25 p.m. – FM Radio: It’s time for Mix 96.9 again on my commute home! This time I get to hear Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and “Numb Little Bug” by Em Beihold.
2:30 p.m. – “Taste of Home” recipe: I’ve been trying to get better at planning my meals, but I forgot to take my frozen chicken out before I left for school this morning. Instead, I Google if you can put frozen chicken in a crock pot. “Taste of Home” tells me that sometimes you can safely cook frozen chicken in a slow cooker, but the meat must reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t have a cooking thermometer, so I’ll have to take my chances.
4:40 p.m. -7:35 p.m. – “Caballero”: I get started on some reading for my course on Chicano literature. We’re reading “Caballero: A Historical Novel” by Eve Raleigh and Jovita González. I spend more time on the book than I originally planned; when I get into a book, I can’t seem to break myself away from it.
7:35 p.m. – Facebook, Instagram: I finally resurface from my reading to eat dinner and check my social media platforms. I like to check Facebook at night because I can see updates from some of my older family members around this time. Today, there’s nothing new. I move on to Instagram and look at a couple of memes my sister sent me.
7:43 p.m. – Discord: I get a frantic Discord message asking me about rehearsal times for marching band practice this week. I calmly reply and reassure my friend that she will have plenty of time to get across campus to before practice.
8:00 p.m. – 8:40 p.m. – Netflix: I watch two episodes of the Netflix show “Never Have I Ever.” The third season was recently released, and although I’m not the biggest fan, I feel compelled to watch it as I have seen the first two seasons.
9:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. – Safari>Wix, WordPress: I work on setting up my personal website, this blog site and a website I am working on for my internship. Although I’m not especially interested in web design, I have managed to get quite involved with it recently!
11:00 p.m. – Substack: Just before I turn off the light, I check my spam email and find the “Dracula Daily” sub stack newsletter, which is Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” sent out via email newsletter in real-time. It’s August 23, so I get to read an entry from Dr. Seward’s diary. In this section, he sees a bat. I wonder what that could possibly have to do with Dracula.
Reflection: After logging my media consumption during a typical school day, I noticed that I consume far more media than I produce. Aside from liking a friend’s Instagram post and replying to a few messages on Slack and Discord, I did not respond to or engage with any of the media I consumed.
When I think of media consumption, I usually think of social media and news, not the music I listen to on the way to school, the books I read for class or the recipes I find to avoid kitchen disasters. To me, the music, books and recipes are not especially serious — they are just what I do for fun.
Although I see many different serious topics on social media from all kinds of outlets (particularly Twitter), I tend to think of local news as more credible because those outlets get closer to the source of the news itself. I check AZCentral frequently, and if the news is a local issue, I usually take national news outlets’ coverage with a grain of salt.
I do, however, trust the Associated Press and The Washington Post as credible national news outlets. Those organizations’ consistent and quality coverage makes me trust them more than a site I see shared that has a plethora of grammatical errors and flashy headlines.
Even so, I am surrounded by all types of media is all the time, and this exercise helped me remember just how much I interact with media each hour of the day, regardless of how much I trust it or how seriously I take it. Moving forward, I want to be more cognizant of the media I consume so I can better engage with it and think critically about what I read.