- The challenge of going without media was especially hard for students in Uganda: The few students who reflected upon the experience all reported on the temptations to break their unplugged day, focusing on their dependence on media and their sense of missing out.
The hardest time: Of all the students who took part in the world Unplugged project, the 70 students in Kampala, Uganda, invited to participate struggled the most. Makerere University had the highest failure rate of students to complete all components of the study.
“I really wonder how people in remote places survive minus any form of media. I cannot do without it.”
Why so many of the students in Uganda failed or refused to complete the experiment is unclear, but the student reports from those who did complete the exercise unanimously noted how much the without-media experiment frustrated and stressed them.
- I felt so lonely that I even started regretting why I had volunteered.”
- “The 24 hours I spent without media created a gap in my life.”
- “It was not an easy experience because I felt I was in a kind of another world – left out.
- “I stayed on campus the whole day trying to avoid my room and I had to give my phone to a friend to use it till the next day. I even went to sleep as early as 8 pm so that I was not tempted to watch TV or listen to music.”
- “I will have to admit that it was one of the most boring days, yet interesting, in the recent past I can recall. I remember counting every passing hour, and trust me, the 24 hours really seemed like a whole year.”
“I missed communicating to my friends through social networks and they also felt there was a problem with me.”
Temptation: Students wrote about having a strong urge to stop the experiment and give in to media.
- “Even on my way to school I was tempted to stand and at least have a glimpse of what was happening in the dailies. Half the day I felt I could not handle it anymore.”
- “It was really hard and just made me realize how I was so dependently tied to the various forms of media.”
- “I was, however, amazed that despite the ‘torture’ I was subjecting myself to, I was able not to break down. I even refused to pick up the home phone when it rang.”
- “I finished the 24 hours but with about 5 to 10 relapses.”
- “Those who are not exposed to the different media miss out on a lot. Life gets so easy with media usage. Not to mention fun! They must be leading very boring lives …good Lord! ”
Dependence: All the students reported on how dependent they were on media… and how they wouldn’t have it any other way. The sole ‘positive’ comment made by students underlined that point. Said one Makerere student about how the study brought to light the student’s ‘addiction’ to media: “It has been a great experience to me and has actually opened my eyes to a simple fact that was just before me – yet one I have always not paid any attention to.”
- “If I wasn’t too exposed to the media like I am, my life would suck.”
- “Afterward, call it revenge of sorts, I watched TV till 3 o’clock and I have spent all my free time today Thursday on the Internet. Oh media…what can we do without you?”
Quotes may have been edited to regularize spelling and grammar.