Mind Food

16th April 2013

eventbrite imageWe are all aware of the “eat right” message that the media and the health industries pump out: there are good foods and bad foods; good diets and bad diets; super-foods and Franken-burgers (aka Horse-burgers). But what about the food that we shovel into our minds every day? I read an article in the Guardian the other day about how the news has no beneficial effect on human-beings; in fact the news increases levels of stress and anxiety. So what information are we feeding on and what are the consequences?

Well, I drift in and out of the news websites – some day I look at 4 or 5, and other days I do not look at any. I have to admit that when I ignore the news sites, I am more productive and more positive. I think there is something inherently banal and frustrating about browsing the news online, at least for me. It is like you are trying to find something that does not exist – a well written interesting news article 🙂 ?! That is a little unfair, but the quality of a lot of journalism has dropped over the last 10 years, at the same time as the volume of news published has mushroomed. A drop in quality and an increase in corporate communications statements has accounted for that growth. (Check out the excellent film Starsuckers for a discussion of this).

Where else do we get out information from? Books, movies, television, and the web are all significant sources – today TV and the web probably account for most of the time spent consuming media. At least with the web we are a lot more active as consumers (all that pointing and clicking), but the quality of content is pretty mixed. It does however cater to exactly what you are interested in. TV is a passive lean back experience and – despite 1000 channels – is amazingly banal. I generally find TV soporific, and am very grateful for DVD boxsets and the new HDMI cable I bought that means I can now watch netflix and Youtube on a TV screen!

Putting aside the source of the information, what about the quality and diversity of the mind fodder we consume? We tend to seek out opinions and information that conform to our view of the world and make us feel ok about life. That makes sense, but it does make for complacency and ignoring issues that are difficult and challenging. Also, without being challenged we “switch off” and tend to wander through life blissfully unaware of some pretty important stuff. Blissfully is the right word because media and the information we consume can act as a narcotic or – at least for me when I watch TV – as an aid to sleep! And then there is the general entertainment content that is pumped out across multiple media – the volume of celebrity news is quite staggering, as well as the topics that it focuses on (generally fashion and body shots). Honestly, if we consider news and media as nutrition, where do we think this stuff fits in the “grocery basket”? In the fresh fruit ans vegetables section? Pulses? Grains? Meat? Dairy? For me, it is closer to that really bad smelling meat “product” that you can only purchase on the street, at a cinema, or in a dodgy festival. But that’s just me 🙂

What are you feeding yourself?

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