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Media Exposure: Like Oxygen, but with Colors and Jingles

September 14, 2010

I promise you, I knew I was a Facebook junkie before I was ever given this assignment. Even if I’m not actually doing anything, like creating a status or reading those of others or, I dunno, deleting all the FarmVille requests people send me, thinking that as a college student with a 15-credit load, I must not have anything better to do than grow virtual blueberries. But that’s just it. I have Facebook up all the time, even if I am not an active presence. I am still a presence. I’m online roughly six hours a day, usually doing homework or watching TV or playing video games or talking on the phone at the same time, but still. The computer is not off. I still have some of my brain focused on the computer.

TV, too–it’s on if I’m in my dorm. Again, I’m not usually glued to the screen. (That’s only if a new No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain is on, or Criminal Minds.) But I need some background noise, especially if I’m alone. It’s just creepy otherwise.Maybe if I had grown up in an age where one could feel sufficiently entertained by embroidering doilies, well, it wouldn’t ook me out so much. But this is, as author Chuck Palahniuk has pointed out, a quiet-phobic culture. The constant white noise of mass media keeps us feeling safe.

 During my two days recording media exposure, I’d gone to Taste of Towson and the Study Abroad fair. I hadn’t really planned on making the days I went to these my exposure days, but that’s just how things worked out. Taste of Towson was just a massive advertisement. All the local resturants wanted to share their culture and business with the Towson students, which meant free notepads and keychains and samples. In exchange for a 10 cent pen, Dunkin Donuts and Qdoba could get hundreds of dollars in business.

The college is the perfect place to advertise. The Monster and Rock Star energy drink trucks always seem to be hanging around the Union, ready to give away samples. There are more billboards here than in all the high schools back in my home county put together–and more than that, people actually read them. They tear off the little phone numbers and, well, put the information they got to some use. Even among student clubs, chalk talks. Every orginzation spreads the word via sidewalk. I know. I helped them.

But plenty of mass media I saw and used was imported. I brought my iPod and plenty of books from home. I love to read David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs when I have nothing else to do, I have a Youtube account specifically to collect my favorite videos (like ‘Puttin on the Ritz’ from Young Frankenstein) so I can share them with my friends at a moment’s notice. Even over my bed, all the pictures I brought from home–they all seem to be ads starring my favorite bands and stars. So there are mass media assaults on my brain THE MOMENT I WAKE UP.

Big Brother is watching, indeed.

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