Media Unplugged: Clamping The IV Digital Drip (Pt1)

Dec. 14, 2015 Update Don’t miss this Wall Street Journal article, “Is your Doctor Getting Too Much Screen Time? which is a huge patient/service complaint and a disconnect especially among seniors navigating health care systems often being told to do things online when they are not even conversant in that “language.”

It’s a digital health “epic fail” on the transition tactics toward data efficiency and seamless “care” when all too often, patients receive neither. The paper pushing vs personal time is heavily weighed on the former, and sadly, so far I haven’t seen much evidence in my many years of eldercare triage that points to the ‘left knowing what the right is doing’ from medicine to treatment plans…Data input is light years from where it needs to be. The intimacy and body language necessary for clarity of diagnosis in this very human relationship is being hijacked by screen time admin and the results are abysmal. We need full “eyes on” the problem…stat.

Aug. 28, 2010 A funny thing happened to me on the way to the ER…

Nope, no sidejokes or ‘this is your brain on media’ digital detox or social media exodus warning, just a true story and a few thoughts on what happens when one ‘goes dark’ without trying…I had some profound life lessons imparted to me this past week in my mandatory ‘AFK’ mode (away from keyboard) ‘going dark’ literally and figuratively, fighting a wicked migraine induced amidst wacky Bay area weather. (riding the fog rollercoaster from lap blanket chills to 98 degree S.F. heatwave)

Like most of my upendings, I try to find useful tidbits to learn from, and in this case, hand down the experience to my teen, in real life media management meets medical advocacy mode, applicable to personal health AND media moments (the loss of control/regain of stability, and the lather rinse repeat cycle). It got me thinking about the whole ‘unplug yourself’ media exodus that seems to be bubbling up from people’s overuse of media sans personal boundaries.

Sounds simplistically surreal, I’ll grant you, but it’s seemingly lost on a generation of MEDIA management anxiousness when many are power whining about the NEED to unplug but they either don’t do it, make a big deal about extrication, or find themselves floundering in a quagmire of pathologies (internet addictions, desperate need for life balance, online/offline extremes etc) when it could really boil down to common sense utterings of those few simple words, “This is not working for me.”

Many may recall I wrote a series about “internet addiction vs agency” (part one, two and three) reminding that however we choose to manage our media consumption, we ALL need to push that pause button to allow our OWN thoughts to dominate our worldview instead of media regurgitations that can envelop, persuade, and dominate our sense of agency.

The adherence to gut instinct and self-advocacy repeatedly reared up during my medical fiasco, making it the theme for the week as I kept wondering why more people don’t just use the honest refrain, “this is not working for me” to tackle their digital demons.

The New York Times blog recently had an “Unplugged Challenge” and an interactive quiz to see IF people could unplug; reporting back like lab rats back from a digital hiatus…

Nickelodeon’s Middle School Unplugged (full episode with Linda Ellerbee) holds up a reality camera lens to three tweens weaning away from wired addictions in a “tech intervention”…And this hilariously pithy post from TechCrunch captures the ‘we’ve got issues’ zeitgeist quite well, headlining, “Wow. If You Think Quitting Booze Freaks People Out, Wait ‘Til You Quit Twitter”

…Yet the whole time I’m reading stories on the dangers of digital detoxing with teens and how you can’t just ‘fall off the face of the earth’ —what would happen?’

I’m thinking, er…um…“I have, I can, I am, and now, so what?”

Sometimes it feels like our cultural compass is smashed and we’ve lost our way to truly listen and respond to our own interior landscape of minds, bodies, and gut instincts giving way to amped up high stakes media drama and either/or thinking.

This “all or nothing” polarity as people struggle for life balance and media management really circles back to that same very innate survival skill I experienced this week…

…Learning to TRUST your brain and body to KNOW when something’s not right. (e.g. food, fitness and relationship dependencies, wired ways/media overload, stress, family habits, take your pick…) Admittedly, I don’t submit easily to illness, controlling forces and ‘shoulds’ so yes, it was a huge deal for me when I opted out of hugging the porcelain bowl any longer to take a ride to the ER for fluids.

But I did. Why? Because my brain conveyed, “this is not working for you.”

Rather than ramp up the self-absorbed fretting, “I don’t have TIME to be sick,” there was a palpable exhale of mental submission and a sense of relief in my resignation. Sure we all make errors in judgment, but why wait until you’ve ‘hit the crisis wall’ to take action on a situation that’s preventable. (migraine OR media!)

My point is, polarity is no way to learn balance and restraint, as it spins us into ‘if/then’ segmented thinking that can create all kinds of causal links, domino effects.

Just like media plotlines are ‘over the top’ and quality scriptwriting needs to revisit the art of subtle nuance, we as media consumers need to revisit how to make small corrective shiftsrather than sweeping pendulum swings.

Have we really lost our ability for free-thinking logic and reason?

Are we giving up self-governance to assorted ‘experts’ (pundits, pros, coaches, guidance givers, digerati, insert your preferred bigwig authority figure) instead of hearing our own voices tell us when something doesn’t feel quite right?

Everyone in dire need of a vacation KNOWS that feeling of gnawing, edgy discomfort signaling a heightened state of anxiety like a rumbling volcano that’s gonna blow…Now we have to retrain ourselves to heed it. Whether it involves media consumption, medical wariness, or ANY situational judgment.

Using my medical mishap again, you might be amused to know that the same “this is not working” red flag that finally got my health stabilized on IVs with a fabulous nurse who understood how migraines and dehydration work, shifted to feeling like I was part of the ill-fated crew (at left) from this 70’s NASA Venturer comic…when I awoke from the first round of IVs.

In my bleary-eyed confusion, I could hear the equivalent of an officious, shrill Nurse Ratched staffer barking orders and flicking on the fluorescent overhead repeatedly (bad) to foist apple juice on me (wrong) and pull me off the gurney to walk around the ER (triple-urp inducing motion/faint-worthy) which quickly sounded my internal alarm to get the heck outta there pronto!

Amidst red strobes, flashing bells and whistle warning signs inside my brain that this new night shift in the ER was CLUELESS I literally proceeded to  ‘check myself out’ in Danger Will Robinson mode. (told you I was a lousy patient) I’d initially deluded myself into thinking “they’re medical people, they must know what they’re doing” until that repetitive voice kicked in again, “this is just NOT working for you!”

Point? The new team set me back significantly in the recovery progress, essentially reversing all the good that was done with the earlier shift…If I had NOT made my own choices and advocated for my own pathway outta there, I could still be spinning in setbacks of slow-mo toxicity.

My daughter helped me ‘make the break’ so she learned this week very fast how to:

1.)    Question authority (yah, even in uniform)
2.)    Trust your gut
3.)    Advocate for yourself
4.)    Never ignore your ‘something’s not right’ voice
5.)    Be aware if something’s not in your best interest
6.)    Give in when you must, but never give up
7.)    And…(ahem) on the media front…If you drop off the grid unannounced, it’s not gonna kill you, tank your friendships, or turn you invisible forevermore… 😉

More on that tomorrow, since some kids have fears of ‘what will happen’ or ‘if they’ll miss something’ offline while others welcome the digital sanctuary of life unplugged…or don’t even log on to begin with.

I had some surprising reactions to ‘going dark’ myself which made this CNET article all the more compelling, “For Teens Today, Online Ties Are As Strong as Family”

True? False? In your world? Do tell…

Meanwhile, for all the notes received assuming I was a “Twitter Quitter” or had taken to Luddite status for an off the grid media respite permanently, nope, just a lousy headache.

Yep, I’m baaaaaaaaaaack, but I don’t have any qualms about unplugging planned or unplanned at any given time, to heed the digital deluge voice that reminds me to control my media consumption so the infovore vine doesn’t strangehold me.

How’s that workin’ for you? Keep asking yourself. In all aspects of your life. Daily.

Media Overload: Trend Tracking Behavioral Reverb

Too Much Tweeting From Twitter Friends? There’s An App For That (WaPo)

Media Loaded Brain BREAKS! Reality Check (ConnectSafely)

Media Management: Addiction vs. Agency Pt 1 (Shaping Youth)

Media Addiction vs. Agency: The Context of Control Pt2 (ShapingYouth)

Media, Medicos & Critical Thinking: Addiction Series Pt3 (ShapingYouth)

Virtual Farm Games Absorb Real Money, Real Lives (CNET)

How Important Is It to Unplug? (SpinSucks)

This is Your Brain on Farmville (Consumerist)

The Dangers of Digital Detoxing (The Daily Beast)

Being On Middle School Unplugged (Teencastic) Wade’s interview coming soon

For Teens Today,  Online Ties As Strong As Family (CNET)

Facebook To Reach Saturation Soon? (Social Media Today)

Your Brain On Computers–The Unplugged Challenge (NYTimes)

Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime (NYTimes)

Outdoors And Out of Reach: Studying the Brain (NYTimes)

More in the NYT Series/This is your Brain on Computers/Parenting etc

Are Digital Devices Making Us Less Creative? (SpinSucks)

Unplug Your Kids Blog (by “Mom Unplugged”)

A Few More Media Management Posts On Shaping Youth

Media Slave, Reshaping Habits For More Summer Fun

Amy Jussel On Kids Media Management & Childhood Matters Radio


Spring Break Sanctuary Away from Digital Dramas

Shaping Youth Through Nature, Media Unplugged

The Great Escape, Shaping Youth Unplugged (Again)

Media Savvy Kids and Nature Deficit Disorder

The Nature of Tweens: Wired Worlds & Outdoor Ed

Generation Digital MIT Review &  Six Degrees of Susan Linn

Nature Rocks! Reconnecting Families with Nature (& a boost from digital media!)

Geolocation: Facebook Places Is It Only ME? Disabling for Privacy

Video of Social Media Maven Gini Dietrich CEO-Founder of MarcomPR On:

How Important Is It to Unplug?



  1. I’m a recent grad just trying to learn more about the marketing business and I really enjoyed your post. Keep up the great work!

  2. Amy, you crack me up! I’m so glad you’re okay, and I appreciate your inspirational thoughts about unplugging (although I wish they’d been easier for you to come by!) My teenage daughters are my advisors about the media stuff. They know far better than I do about getting sucked into the online vortex, etc. I’m fairly new at all this and, honestly, FREAKED about the addictive pull I feel at times. My girls tell me to just turn it off and look at me disapprovingly when I say, “Five more minutes.”

    Anyhoo, I’m sure the online world did miss you, (I know I did), but I’m thankful to you for sharing your healthy perspective, and will always be grateful for all you do for our youth.

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