Editor's note: Though we suggest a 5% media shift in this post, in this 2008 New Year Post, we upped our aspiration to 10%!
If you've ever done that little experiment where you track your food intake for a week, you've noticed that you eat stuff you don't really care about, yes, and some stuff that isn't even satisfying -- it's just something to keep your mouth busy. And then you're left hungry for substance, but stuffed. Unless you're in your 20s and can eat anything without any noticeable side effects, you eventually start to substitute -- a little more of the good stuff, a little less of the stuff that doesn't contribute to the healthiest, happiest you.
Here at HumanKind Media, we wonder how that applies to our media consumption. We'd like to think that someday, a mere 5 percent more conscious consumption of stories that inspire possibility and connection, and 5 percent less of the usual divisive, fear-driven news and celebrity gossip could create a global citizenry with a shared intention to solve many of the problems that generations have been suffering. While the information age makes it easier to spend our attention in little bits, if we use it the way we want to, we can have a miraculous shift. It's the equivalent of a body-building diet for healing the world.
I thought a call for that 5 percent shift in the media diet should include a "media consumption pyramid" but Liz put a stop to that right away. [Ed. note: A media pyramid seemed kind of didactic. Take that, FDA.] So instead, I've adapted these three standard wellness tips for a healthy daily media regimen. [Ed. note: I'm all for tips!]
1. TAKE NOTE OF THE EFFECT OF MEDIA CHOICES.
Decide to take in the stories and images that support the change you want to be in the world. Pyschologists and social scientists have been studying mood and its relationship to action for years. The consensus is: when you're in a mood generated by acceptance, connection, possibility, or hope, you're a better learner, more able to take action, and more likely to form relationships that support you. When you're in a mood of anger, resentment, or resignation, you're more likely to procrastinate and hole up. It's easier to stand against something than for something, but standing for something makes you more likely to move forward to your big vision for yourself.
When I coach my clients, one of the first things we do is start observing more closely: I have the client ask himself or herself, What do I pay attention to? After a week or two, it becomes clear to both of us that what the client "attends to" and what the client is longing for are not necessarily aligned. (It's just like food -- we all want healthier bodies, but we don't always eat like it.) And it's quite possible that the thing the client pays attention to, the thing they don't want, is affecting his or her mood.
2. SHOP WISELY.
In business school in the 80's I remember hearing about how product development would soon be in the hands of the consumer. "One day," my teachers said with awe, "you will be able to order the exact car you want and have it delivered to your door in three weeks." Hah! Now, we design everything to our own specifications -- even our media. We order books, blog feeds, and movies online (I can even order pizza online now, but don't get me started on that). Last week I saw Mackenzie, the genius who fixes all our technology problems here at HumanKind, open up his homepage and, voila! Everything on his screen was what he had selected himself. He got his weather and news how he wanted it, and he had his free HumanKind subscription way up near the top (bless his brilliant heart). He picks his music sites to customize his listening, and though I didn't see it, he may even have a game link for a little downtime.
For most of you under 35, this one's probably a big duh! But I feel like I'm just now waking up to a new idea here. Today I began shopping for my own media choices. I went to iGoogle and began choosing my favorite news, blogs, stock reports, humor, and pictures, and I'm even auditioning several of the quotation sites to see which suits my need for daily inspiration. And I'm doing this with a global eye -- since we're all global citizens.
3. HAVE VARIETY, INCLUDING MEDIA YOU LIKE.
You know what, it's okay to enjoy moderate amounts of the high-fat, high-sugar drama, dish, and dirt. Over the years, I have been subconsciously and consciously adjusting my media diet as I notice lingering effects of my intake. I cut back on "news" several years ago, and yes, I missed an entire earthquake once, but other than that, it seems I no longer walk around helplessly resenting the war and feeling separated from certain groups of people in certain places. Anything major that everyone "should" know seems to be so thick in the air that I absorb it from my environment and my friends without having to consume it on my own. I still like a little People magazine when I'm in a waiting room or at the grocery store, but mostly I'm interested in the celebrities that are doing something cool with their fame, and I take a pass on the stories about drug use and marital strife. And now I'm seeking out the bloggers, print writers, columnists, and organizations that speak to me about possibilities, the ones who give me ideas that inspire me, and who make me feel connected through the vast human network tool called media to that big Blessed Unrest Paul Hawken talks about -- the movement to heal the world.