Thoughts On the Link Between Media & A Happy Life

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Since the hideous display of Miley Cyrus a couple weeks back, it seems that the focus has been–more than ever–on the degradation of values in the American media. Not only has blog after blog done posts on the spectacle and what we should do about it (several of them very well done), but my Facebook account has had what seemed to be a Cyrus seizure for about a week and a half, with the majority of people buzzing about the shocking debacle and what it means for us as a nation.

Let me be honest:

I never watched the video, and I never want to.

I know many people who probably never would have watched the video either if there hadn’t been such a fuss made over it. It was like people thought, “Everyone’s talking about how horrid this is—I’d best go see for myself how far we’ve stooped as a society.”

I’m not trying to point fingers at people who watched the video—to each his (or her) own, and we all generally try hard to make our way in the world the best that we can.

Since the matter of the deterioration of society through the media has been on my mind a lot lately though, I thought I’d share some thoughts.

Saturday night, I  had the pleasure of attending a performance by James Taylor (one of my favorite artists of all time), the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Utah Symphony, who all came together for a fabulous night of inspirational music and performance. James Taylor left me awestruck with his honey-like baritone, and it seemed like each and every song touched a chord somewhere deep within me, as if my innards were saying, “Yes! Yes! I know exactly that feeling you’re singing about.”

Matt and I left the performance with a lighter step and a renewed gratitude for the gift of music in our lives.

I would say that most of us recognize the forces for good and evil in the world—we know when something could be classified as something “inspirational” or as something “degrading.” We know those aspects of the media that make us feel sick, uncomfortable, or scared.

My take on it my whole life has always been this:

We choose what world we live in.

Sometimes I feel like my world is completely different than most people’s—it’s a world generally filled with love, optimism, and aspirational strivings to be the best person I can be. And the reason behind all this isn’t because my life isn’t filled with struggles or because everything is perfect: it’s because I’ve consciously (and sometimes unconsciously) chosen to block out as much of the negative messages of the world as I possibly can.

I’ve always hated watching the news, so I’ve never really kept up with what’s going on that way. We don’t have t.v., so any program I watch is always through the Internet (which cuts down on my viewing time drastically, I’ve found). I’ve also taken to listening to books on c.d. much of the time in the car instead of listening to the radio.

I know I could be faulted for being uninformed or behind the times. But the truth is this: the big stuff that happens (negative or positive) eventually finds its way to me anyway. I’ve never had the personality to be able to stomach a lot of constant negativity in my life, which is why I tend to shun the news and politics in general. I still do try to stay informed in my own way, but I generally go about it in a way that avoids most of the contention and cynicism.

My dad once said something to me that I’ve never forgotten that was basically this: “There are two types of people in the world. There are those who go harping at you about all the bad stuff you need to turn away from and how awful and evil the darkness is and what you need to do to avoid it. But then there are the people who focus on turning towards the light and towards God—people who focus on the things they can do to bring themselves more truth and light. Those people are much like sunflowers–they don’t focus on turning away from the dark: they’re simply trying to face the light as much as they can. And while it might seem like it basically amounts to the same thing, it makes all the difference in the world which way you’re choosing to look at it.”

So sure you could call me uninformed because I don’t feel the need to “get to know the enemy” or “see what’s out there.” But in the end, it’s just because of the person I’ve chosen to try and be.

Now I’m not saying I’m perfect in my media choices—I have a weakness for magazines and movies (although I don’t watch rated-R movies, some PG-13s, or horror or war movies), and I’ve been working hard the past little while to be much more selective about the music I listen to. I’m far from where I’d like to be, but I still do a pretty good job of filling up my mind with uplifting poetry, books, and thoughts.

And it’s made ALL the difference in my world.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think it’s important to inform ourselves of what’s out there? Or are you more like me, preferring to live in semi-ignorance when it comes to some things?

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