We’re all creatures of habit. Every person. We pour ourselves cups of coffee in the morning, we put half of our paychecks into our savings, and we procrastinate. We also turn on the radio in the car, gather the newspaper in our slippers and robes, and get distracted by the internet when all we’re trying to do is write a blog for a mass-communications course (we bloggers can develop poor habits ourselves)!

We can speculate when, why, or how our inherent need to stay connected comes second nature to us, or even how the first three habits I listed could be the direct result of the media as well. But in order to really answer all of those questions, we need a firm assessment of our current situation. Are we really subjected to a media overload? I decided to find out from a personal standpoint.

For two days, I wrote down every medium I came in contact with. I wasn’t surprised by what I found.

As soon as my 6am alarm went off, I was greeted with a warm (but LOUD and IMPOSING for 6am) song by James Taylor thanks to my clock/radio. Even before I was conscious, I had been invaded by the media. This was off to a pretty interesting start. As I’m driving to school, I pass by what seemed like 30,000 campaign signs. One would think, that when one takes back roads to avoid traffic, that one would not come in much contact with the media. Not the case in an election year…

But now that I was awake and even more alert to scope out examples of the media, things were coming at me left and right. I arrived at Towson, a town that normally looks just like this:

But with my senses focused, Towson at 7am looked something like THIS:

A bit of an exaggeration, I know, but it’s amazingly strange what your mind does when it’s focused. A handful of Clear Channel billboards jumped out at me at Towson Circle. Signs for restaurant and bar specials bombarded me at every traffic light (It is no wonder there are so many car accidents in city settings). Bumper stickers on cars in front of me did everything from advertising Ron’s Surf Shop to telling me all about their honor student. Informative . All of this commotion even has its own soundtrack, as a blend of indie rock, sports talk, and obnoxious advertisements blare through my radio. Nursing a headache, I finally park my car, walk to class, and briefly acknowledge all of the bulletin board announcements and sidewalk chalk ads I pass on my way to Van Bokkelen Hall.

After classes, it was time to work. I passed by all the same blizzard of distractions, and safely clocked in at Bill Bateman’s Bistro in Parkville. For the next six hours, I was subjected to a classic rock satellite radio station, and 16 televisions, each broadcasting¬† a different sports network. Just when I think there couldn’t be any more impositions, my phone vibrates about a bakers’ dozen times with all the text messages I missed while I was in class. I of course respond when the tables I’m waiting on are satisfied for the moment. All of this continues until I punch out, tired, and a little richer.

The drive home is uneventful. The same radio station lets my brain zone out, and the billboards and campaign posters are not as noticeable at night on these roads. I get home, and immediately check my email, facebook, fantasy football teams, blackboard, and the list goes on. All the while, I feel the need to have a secondary distraction to all of that, so I turn on the TV. For about the next three hours, as I’m studying, doing my homework, talking to friends, and responding to emails, my mind is inadvertently responding both positively and negatively to infinite tidbits of news stories, advertisements, and social commentary. Well, after hearing everyone else’s, here’s my take:

Unless you want to move out of your neighborhood, and into a tent deep in the woods with only food, water, and clothing, you will not avoid the media. And unless you despise everything it stands for, you’ll find yourself wanting to satiate your habits of being on the computer, talking and texting on the phone, or even driving by that same obnoxious billboard with that same annoying PSA. We’ve adopted media, and media made us adapt.

As soon as my homework’s done, I’m extremely tired. I attempt to watch a full episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but fail. Maybe my mind just can’t take anymore media today. Hopefully tomorrow goes a little bit easier on me, but I soon found out that it was exactly the same. I’m staying at my Dad’s house tonight, and there isn’t an extra alarm clock. With the power of Google, I bring up onlineclock.net and set it for 6am. I shrug, laugh to myself, and pull the covers over my head.

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