We’ve all heard the expression “you are what you eat”. Well, we not only consume physical food but “mental food” as well. We can get hooked not only on junk food for the body but the mind as well, if we are not careful.
It’s easy for us to be hungry and to drive down the street and consider that our dining choices are only the array of the same fast food and chain restaurants that line the main thoroughfares of all of America. Yet many of us have started looking beyond the usual corporate dining options for something a bit healthier to feed our bodies. Isn’t it time we did the same when we are feeding our minds?
When it comes to our choices for entertainment, I sometimes feel like we are a fish who is clueless of the water all around us and how it is impacting our very existence. We are immersed in a flow of entertainment energy provided by a handful of media corporations which feed us an unhealthy mental diet. This entertainment is so ubiquitous that we think the options we are shown are the only ones that exist.
Recently I became more aware of this fact by way of some “expiring airline miles”. I received a notice in the mail that these miles were going to elapse in a few weeks and the only real option available to me to turn the miles into anything tangible was to use them to subscribe to magazines. I looked among the available options and started subscriptions to a bunch of magazines—Entertainment Weekly, Time, People, The Economist and more. As the magazines starting arriving in the mail, I began the process of scanning through them to see if there was anything of importance to read. I have to say that I am “up on pop culture” more at the moment than I have been in awhile. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not!
One of the first things that jumped out at me during my weekly run through of these periodicals was that the movies, TV programs, books, video games and other forms of entertainment that were highlighted were the same from magazine to magazine. Now sure, in any given week, the major networks or movie studios are releasing only a certain set of new “major” offerings that week. I realize that some degree of overlap is to be expected—but week after week I began to note that the menu of entertainment choices we were being fed by these magazines was surprisingly small. This was especially obvious in the new books that were reviewed. In any one week, there must be hundreds of new and noteworthy books being printed, but you would think there were only a handful if you read these publications. I began to joke to my wife that these authors or their publishers must have some good PR agents!
The truth is this — just like there are many more healthier food options for our bodies once we look beyond the PR of the corporate restaurant chains, there are many more healthier and satisfying mental food choices when we look beyond the corporate media chains.
I have written previously about the overly violent nature of our entertainment industry (see “Why is Hollywood So Violent?”). I continue to be concerned about the effects on our collective mental health by way of our consuming so much violence. I couldn’t help but notice the cover of this week’s (March 28, 2014) Entertainment Weekly touting the HBO series Game of Thrones with this headline — “King of Pain – Joffrey is in for a world of hurt as the HBO hit preps its darkest and bloodiest season yet.” The article inside the issue begins by highlighting the gruesome events at the conclusion of the previous season. Must we truly sell ourselves so much human violence against other humans in the name of “entertainment”?
Now, I don’t mean to be picking on this program, I know a lot of people that really like this show. My point is that the violent nature of our entertainment is so much around us that like the fish in the water, we don’t even see its there. Yet, it is and we swim in this violent energy all of the time thinking and proclaiming that it doesn’t impact us. We deny that there is any evidence that our consumption of this “entertainment” has any connection to the high levels of violence we see in the world. Maybe. And maybe diets high in junk food have nothing to do with our country’s obesity problem.
It’s interesting to note that recently one of the major producers and sellers of this violent entertainment diet has had a change of heart. A month or so ago, movie producer Harvey Weinstein stated that “I have to choose movies that aren’t violent, or as violent as they used to be. For me, personally, I can’t continue to do that. The change starts here.” Immediately the critics came out in force against him. Sure, it’s easy to call him a hypocrite after all the violent movies he has made in the past, but one has to wonder why the news and editorial coverage has been so negative. Of course, my cynical side does see that the ones being critical are for the most part working for the same corporate media entities that produce the violent entertainment. I hope Weinstein’s conversion to wanting to make less violent entertainment sticks.
So what is the point here? Awareness. Just as we are becoming more aware of our physical diet, let’s become more conscious of what we consume mentally. The choices for entertainment that are presented loudly to us by the media are not the only ones on the menu. With a little bit of effort, you can seek out mental food that is better for you and our collective soul. Choose wisely, my friend!
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!