What you feed your mind matters as much as what you feed your body. The music you listen to, the tv shows and movies you watch, the books you read, these all begin to paint an inner world and inform your thoughts and feelings. They can bring you closer to the Gods or create an interior environment that makes it harder to connect with Them. Very rarely is media truly neutral in effects.
The media we consume has an effect beyond the Divine realm as well. Although that’s enough of a reason for me to be careful, I know others may need more concrete examples. Very well. I know young women with self-esteem and body image issues who nonetheless listen to rap music that reduces women to bitches, hos, and body parts. When I broached this subject with them, they don’t see the connection. They got defensive, even though I wasn’t attacking this girl in particular, but trying to get her to see the messages her music was sending her and how that might be affecting her feelings.
I know some of my habits and my fandoms are not the best in this regards. This doesn’t mean that I cannot engage in them, as long as I do so mindfully. I’ve actually made an effort to cut down on the amount of media I consume, not counting music, so that I have to more careful about the inputs and messages. But I have kept a few of my more “problematic” fandoms.
One example of this is one of my absolute favorite TV shows, the Walking Dead. As anyone who watches this show knows, this show and this world is dark. It affects me, emotionally. There is no way that it can’t (unless I was some sort of creepy sociopath along the lines of one TWD’s villains). Some of the more emotionally devastating episodes, particularly where a favorite character dies in some horrible way, have left me in a state of depression for days. But I must be something of a masochist, because I keep going back. The show is too good, too well-written, and world interesting and more than that, there must be something cathartic in being made to feel that way because I clearly want to. Theater, after all, has been used to explore some of the darkest parts of the human condition and of our world since its very conception in Greece’s yearly festivals celebrating the God Dionysos. But I also think that too much of this darkness, not specifically from the The Walking Dead but from too much that genre of dark serialized TV storytelling, has in the past left me in a state of mild-to-mid miasma. Strangely, I’ve had more nightmares about the methheads in Breaking Bad than the zombies in The Walking Dead, maybe because its more real and I’ve lived in actual dangerous neighborhoods with real methheads. And I’ve also lived in emotionally abusive homes and a lot of Walt’s behavior in the later seasons reminds me of my father’s. I have no sympathy for Walt in the later seasons and find the fandom’s hatred for Skylar to be disturbing and sexist.
But I have friends who want me to watch (or re-watch) this or that show, and sometimes I have to say no (or learn to say no). We recently re-watched Breaking Bad, and I don’t think I’m going to watch it ever again. It’s actually a very good show, but its too good at what it does. Its brings up too many emotions and makes me miasmic, and that affects my connection to my Gods.
This post is getting a bit rambly and not very well thought out. I need to go to sleep. I guess I just want everybody to be a little more mindful about what they consume. If you’re really cool with the messages you’re absorbing, than fine. But don’t deny that they’re there because it’s “just for fun”, or “meaningless” or something. There’s no such thing.