Media is an all-encompassing term that covers everything from TV shows, commercials and YouTube, to magazines, Instagram, and even this very blog post.
I can’t imagine a world without it. Can you? Media is like food. It is everywhere, but not all of it is healthy for your soul.
Three basic “food groups” of media
Soup: Some media is like homemade chicken soup–satisfying, full of vegetables and quality protein. Media in this category is well-researched, open-source, and unbiased (a rare feat), produced by companies with integrity and ethics. You feel informed and empowered when you’re done.
Popcorn: Some media is like salted toffee popcorn—fun, tasty, and trendy. The more you eat of it, the more you want. Media in this category is entertaining and meant to hook you in and keep you coming back for more. This type often stokes desires for things and lifestyles you don’t have. Though not inherently bad, it fills you up, preventing you from consuming what is actually nourishing.
Chemicals: Some media is like invisible toxins on fresh produce. It’s unhealthy for you, but you don’t even know you’re consuming it. It could take years before you discover how it affects your well-being. Media in this category is based on fear, manipulation, and often makes people feel helpless and bitter.
Five things you can do to reduce the effects of media on your life
Media is noisy and cuts you off from your own heart and your own knowing. These suggestions can help you get your own sense of balance back (and also save you sanity and money).
1. Consciously choose which media you will consume:
Start by noticing which media leaves you feeling overwhelmed, anxious, helpless, rageful, or depressed (or all of the above). For example, I occasionally end up on BuzzFeed’s website to read an article, but all around it are gross ads and upsetting titles of other articles. I usually get out of there fast! Important: While you’re at it, also discern which media you consume that makes you feel empowered.
2. Form your own opinion about issues you care about:
Media comes down to either opinion (mixed in with facts) or attempts to get you to give up your money. Knowing what you value will help you be less swayed by spin, and will make you less susceptible to sneaky advertising gimmicks.
3. Chew on it:
When you do consume media, make an effort to process it within yourself or with others. For example, after viewing or reading something, check in with your own wisdom and knowing, “Is this true for me?” Try turning off the radio or pausing a program in the middle to check in about how it’s affecting you. Talk about what you see and read with open-minded others. Processing it gives back your authority.
4. Connect meaningfully with other humans:
The heart can be wounded when blasted with messages like “the world is a dangerous place” every day. To counter this, make conversation in public places with people you don’t know. Spread goodness with eye contact and a smile. A “hello” or a “how are you” are ways to connect with other hearts. You might choose to connect meaningfully by doing service in your community that improves an issue you care about.
5. Avoid “ain’t it awful” at all costs:
Make peace with the fact that you can change only what is within your sphere of influence. Can you change media coverage of an election, for example? No. But you can decide to vote. You can get involved in a campaign. You can turn it off. Focus on what you can do so you don’t get stuck in thinking that doesn’t serve you. You’ll sleep much better at night.
How you benefit from simplifying your media consumption
You might have less stress and anxiety along with more clarity and peace. You could discover new hobbies with all that new-found free time. You might have more meaningful connection with others, nourishing your heart and soul.
After I stopped the paper (which made me depressed and angry) and decided not to have a TV (which made me zone out), I found I worried less and had more energy. I stopped buying stuff impulsively, which helped me reduce my debt.
Of course there’s a place and a need for some media in our lives, but when you control what it is and how often you consume it, you’ll find the huge benefits worth the trade-off.
If you’re reducing media’s influence on your life, please share what’s working for you!