A weird post for those of you following my journey on the Appalachian Trail. This evening I am writing a blog post for my graduate course in Media Literacy, and if you’re here for spiders and trails you are welcome to skip this one.
Here is the prompt: Write a reflection on your childhood experience(s) with media. How did your family use media when you were growing up? How did you experience the media at school? How did your teachers talk about (or not) the media, popular culture, etc.? How do you believe the media shaped you personally? This is a reflective piece, written in the first person, and is intimate, descriptive, and detailed. Due 9/10 5:00pm.
You have probably noticed, it is past 5:00pm. A lack of air conditioning in my house has driven me mad.
In my house, we grew up with one working TV without cable. My consumption of media really grew up on PBS, starting with Sesame Street, moving to Mister Rodgers, then Arthur, and then Cyberchase. By the time Cyberchase was too young for me, Netflix was out and we were off to the races. My dad consumed more media from my perspective than my mom, in both his job working on a newspaper and on TV.
My most profound memory of a teacher reacting to popular culture is my 8th grade English teacher. The night before Larry Platt shocked the nation with his audition to American Idol with an original: “Pants on the Ground.” The next morning, we were moving onto predicate nouns in the grammar book and my teacher lunged around the classroom chanting, “Predicate noun, predicate noun, looking like a fool with your predicate noun.” Do I remember what a predicate noun is? Is it just a noun that comes after a verb? I don’t know. But I do know that my teacher was trying to connect with the students, and she had all the eyes on her while this was happening.
Media is certainly the reason I became a teacher, though for me it was more through books and movies than watching the news or keeping up online. I was always hesitant to try new technology, and still am. About Instagram I said, “I’ll get the next one,” and then I also passed on Tick Tock. Maybe I’ll get the next next one. But TV shows like Little House on the Prairie and movies like Anne of Green Gables? I thought those leading ladies were awesome and so I fashioned my hopes and dreams around what I saw of them: teaching with writing on the side.
I was never very connected with what my classmates were talking about because when everyone was on Facebook, I was not. I did not join Facebook until 2012 or 2013, long after many of my friends had abandoned it. So when everyone came into geometry singing “Friday” I had no clue what was going on. Popular TV shows? We still didn’t have cable and instead watched shows like This Old House or the Red Green Show. I do think that my media choices growing up kept me isolated from other kids, but I also know that it fueled my internal belief that I was special — much like my quirky, fictional, heroines.
Stay tuned for Appalachian Trail part…six? Maybe it’s five. I really need my AC fixed, folks.