How About a Content Diet?

Every day, we consume more than food: we consume impressions that come to us through our senses. The images and the sounds we surround ourselves with have a major impact on our moods, feelings, way of thinking, and ultimately, on our behavior and accomplishments. For many of us, many of these impressions come in the form of content, whether it’s online content, TV content, iPod content, or reading content. We are not only the food we eat, but also the content we consume. One of the reasons I enjoy blogging is that, unlike cable TV or radio, it offers us greater control over the content we are exposed to, enabling us to filter it down according to our taste.

I am not an advocate of censorship; I believe that all content should be out there, available for anyone who wants it. That said, I try to be careful with the content I consume, just as I am careful with the food I consume.

If we watch violent movies, we become more violent ourselves. If we watch porn, we become more lustful, not necessarily with the good kind of lust. If we watch endless political debates on TV we become not only more ‘political’, but also more argumentative. If we devour web content filled with ads or watch TV commercials all the time, we become keener shoppers and greater spenders. We all know this, but we are not generally mindfully aware of the long-term effects that ingesting content indiscriminately has on us.

The same applies of course to the books we read. Our reads have a lasting impact on our mental makeup, and just as other types of content, they can fill us at times with unrest. Unrest is not necessarily bad, and controversial books may lighten up previously unexplored areas in our mind, helping us start personal revolutions. But when we’re in a bad mood, angry, scolding, or violent books only make things worse.

I don’t believe we should read and consume only what everyone else is reading and consuming, or what is generally deemed ‘safe’. We shouldn’t be tame in our thoughts. I am a high-school drop-out, and one of the reasons formal education didn’t work for me was that the books they gave me to read here in Romania were not particularly interesting.

At the end of the day, the content we consume, and how much of it we take in, is of course a matter of personal preferences. But I think we should all try to be more aware of the impact that the content we consume has on our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes, whether it’s in the form of books, apps, videogames, TV, radio, or websites. Let us choose our sources carefully, and let us avoid mediums where other people, rather than us, choose the content we consume. Thumbs up for blogging, thumbs down for television.

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What type of content do you consume the most? Are you careful with your sources?

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10 thoughts on “How About a Content Diet?

  1. “If we watch violent movies, we become more violent ourselves. If we watch porn, we become more lustful, not necessarily with the good kind of lust. If we watch endless political debates on TV we become not only more ‘political’, but also more argumentative. If we devour web content filled with ads or watch TV commercials all the time, we become keener shoppers and greater spenders.” I have been bombarded with online ads for a long time now but I have not become a passionate shopper so I don’t think it’s a general rule. I think what matters the most is the degree of awareness you consume content with, regardless of that content. Also, there are movies with violent content (in different degrees) but with great depth, a great concept or message so they shouldn’t be discarded based solely on their depicting violence. As for porn, you don’t become more lustful if you (only) watch porn, you become more lustful if you engage more in sexual conduct.

  2. This is an important message needed particularly when the choice of so much media is available. I agree wholeheartedly. What we feed our minds can determine our “mind” health.

  3. Watching violence, porn, political debates, etc. doesn’t necessarily increase these activities in your personal or public life. Watching televised violence, war movies, can, if the movie is done well enough, can move one to hate war. Watching porn is erotic, and in fact many couples enjoy watching them. Political debates are more often than not watched for informational purposes.

    I love your posts and, I like your ideas but that third paragraph needs more thought.

  4. Reminds me of the tail of the old man with two fighting dogs. He would come into the villages and pit his two dogs against each other. Some times one would win and other times he would return and the other would win. Always the old man would win money by betting on the correct dog. When asked how he always knew which dog would win, he said it was “the one I feed more.”

    What ever aspect of our life we want to ‘win’ we need to feed. Feed with our time and energy. We are obviously made up of more than just two aspects, but the truth remains we are not going to strengthen an attribute if we feed ourselves on its opposite.

    Thank you for the nice article!

  5. No, let’s pig out on content! Let’s celebrate every excess, try as many of them as we are given strength, and then – and then – write. write, write, WRITE with a knowledge that is the broader, the deeper, the more passionate for our scars, our wounds and our experiences! Sorry, it is a nice post, but I disagree with most of it. There are vulnerable people who should perhaps be protected from experience, maybe, possibly… but life always gets to you in the end.

  6. I love the wisdom that emanates from your words. OK, your POV is a bit extreme here, but I know, I think, what you are getting at.

  7. ” I don’t believe we should read and consume only what everyone else is reading and consuming, or what is generally deemed ‘safe’. ” Definitely, because not everything we read or consume is true. Therefore it’s extremely important for people to wake up and do things for themselves. In terms of researching, learning, witnessing, and documenting. Rather it’s a pencil, pen, or keyboard, people’s words and trustable references are the most indestructible things a person can own.

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