I was listening to some friends discuss TV shows over the weekend and heard them talking about the effects that certain shows have on them. It was interesting to hear the differences between male and female reactions to a particular show. Differences in background seemed to play a role in how the show affected each individual, as well. I listened as one guy exclaimed that he could not understand why the women were so creeped out when he himself reacted so
casually. I got the distinct impression that he felt that the show should not have had any real impact on them because he believed that it had not had an impact on himself.
Similarly, I thought about all the books I have read over the years, all the different kinds of music to which I’ve listened, and all the movies and television programs I’ve watched. I was reminded that I would be foolish to think that any of those things had never affected me in any way. Everything that an individual is exposed to has an effect on the psyche, on the spirit. It changes the individual, however slight. Everything in the media affects every person that it touches, changes them, makes them a different person. The sad thing is that for so many people this change is unconscious, beneath awareness. People end up changing into something other than what they expected and before they realize it has happened. I can clearly recall my mood and demeanor after reading certain books, watching certain shows, listening to certain songs. Sometimes, I am content with the changes. Sometimes, I find the changes disquieting. Sometimes, I mentally work to counteract the changes before they can become permanent. Sometimes, I find myself brushing them off casually, shrugging my shoulders in disregard. I fear, though, that few people ever make the effort to even think about how the media to which they expose themselves affects them. And I think that it explains, in part, the nature of our society today, the nature of the generation of youth that only seek self-fulfillment at the cost of nearly everything else. And again, I find myself coming back to this issue of critical thinking, constantly evaluating everything, putting it into its proper place, avoiding those things which are harmful and consciously, willfully attending to those things which we allow ourselves, whether it be willfully or passively and indirectly, to be exposed.
Do not think that it does not touch you, that it bounces harmlessly away. I do not think that exposure to the media is wholly bad, but I do not think that it can only be casually embraced.
Vigilance is key, self-awareness necessary. Given time, and without these, you may not recognize the face in the mirror.