Media Consumption: You Are What You Consume
Feeling inspired and invigorated? Make a note of what you're consuming.
Feeling uninspired and inadequate? Make a note of what you’re consuming.
You are what you consume. And no, we’re not talking about food. However, when we make this slight adjustment to the well-known saying “you are what you eat,” it still holds truth.
What you consume extends far beyond what you eat. It encompasses the media you consume and the resulting messages that enter your mind. In this twenty-first century world, online media is an essential part of daily routines whether that be listening to music, utilizing class materials, attending virtual workshops, or leisurely watching YouTube videos. The media-centered lifestyles that many have adopted have only grown increasingly intense in the midst of the current pandemic, making it especially important for you to be aware of how you are using media.
A couple of weeks ago, we covered the role of perspective in shaping our lives. The truth is that you must be intentional and aware of what influences and messages comprise your perspectives. After all, these messages ultimately shape your life.
If you are ready to transform your mindless scrolling from draining escapism to subconscious empowerment, follow these steps! You can follow along with the printable “You Are What You Consume Worksheet” to get you started.
1. Identify your media.
Media are the ways in which you connect with others and exchange meaning or messages. For the purpose of this reflection, examples of media include social media platforms, streaming services, books, and other forms of media that you use in your free time.
Identify the top 3-5 media that you gravitate towards when you are able to choose. For example, you can list general social media/streaming platforms/other OR specific influencers/shows/other. The more specific you are, the more insightful your analysis will be.
2. Categorize your purpose for use.
The main motivations for media use are enjoyment, companionship, surveillance, and interpretation. Enjoyment is the use of media as a leisure activity which can range from music to reading religious texts. Companionship is the use of media to decrease feelings of aloneness and simulate friendship/relatability. Surveillance is the use of media to learn about what is happening in the world and the lives of others. Interpretation is the use of media to gain understanding about why occurrences are happening and what our positions and conclusions should be.
If you are using the accompanying worksheet, circle the category that best aligns with your main purpose for using each of your favorite media. If not, simply make a note of the category.
3. Be honest about your intended result.
Take a moment to think about what you intend to achieve when you choose to participate in using your media of choice. For this step, you will elaborate on your purpose of use. Even if it is as embarrassing as “I want to distract myself from an assignment,” be honest. You cannot improve where you do not acknowledge.
4. Reflect on the actual effect.
You will need to truly sit in your thoughts for this step. You may even need to visit the identified platform, show, influencer, etc. in order to have a true reflection of what feelings the media you use elicits. Reflect on these thoughts or feelings and, in a few words, write out how you feel following your use.
5. Review steps 1-4 and revise your media use accordingly.
This may be your first time truly considering why you use the media you do and what effects you actually experience. That is okay. As the conclusion of this analysis, it is critical that you reference your findings and see if they align with your aspirations.
All your media consumption does not necessarily need to be “productive.” As ambitious people, it is perfectly reasonable for one of your intentions to be relaxation. As long as you feel good and refreshed afterwards, that is great. Make space for that too.
Some questions to consider are:
Do the actual effects support who I want to be?
Do the actual effects inspire me to take steps towards being who I want to be?
Does this *insert media* make me feel good or inspired in a healthy way?
Based on your answers and exploration, make adjustments as necessary. Now that you are aware, you owe it to yourself to build the best possible environment possible. Your virtual world is the world you spend a lot of your time in, and it affects your relationship with yourself and your possibilities.
You do not have complete control over the media that you encounter throughout your life. This makes it even more important that you are intentional rather than mindless about the effects of the media in the instances that you do have the freedom to choose. Whether or not you choose to be aware, the media you are exposed to influences your thinking, behaviors, and life. So, grab ahold of the reins and maximize the benefit of that influence!
Written by: Nia Stewart Fall 2020 Intern