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.