Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Lie--Music and Media Have No Lasting Effect on Me

I love music. I love all kinds of music. I love country, rock, hip hop, rap, oldies, classic rock, bluegrass, classical, and everything in between. I do NOT love all the songs within each genre. There are some that have some redeeming qualities and some that are just plain bad (talent wise) or vile (content wise). I would like to see us (all of us) be a little more conscientious about our consumption of media.

I always like to ask the youth that I work with about their media consumption. What kind of music they listen to, what shows they watch, who their favorite artists are, what books they are reading or have read recently. I believe that the media we take in shapes the words we put out--even if it is only barely noticeable. My favorite thing is when a young person, when presented with the question "why do you listen to that garbage", responds with "I don't listen to the words, I just like the beats." I usually then proceed to askt hem questions about the song and ask them to "hum a few bars." 100% of the time, if they are honest, they have a good portion of the lyrics embedded in their minds. It will almost always come out in their language also. If you never take bad words in, there is no way you can spit them back out.

Understand that I like all kinds of music. I listen to all kinds of music. I even listen to some music that is "not good for me". I really do like the beats. The difference is, I KNOW that those words and thoughts are being preached at me in a really catchy sermon of beats and words. I am a conscious consumer. I am not someone that says that an 18 year old should completely hide from the world he or she lives in. I would also say that it is a parent's job to know what their kids listen to and to shield them as much as possible. It is important to listen to the stuff your kids listen to so YOU can be a conscious consumer for your kids and help them develop the skills necessary to be that conscious consumer themselves.

This goes both ways, by the way. A lot of parents believe that if their kids listen only to certain types of music, there is no problem. For example, if a song mentions God, it is probably ok to consume. This is so very dangerous. Kids like to dig into the music and the artists. Here is an example of why this can be dangerous. The band Evanesence did a song called "Bring Me To Life." It is a really good song. If you listen on the surface, and even if you dig into the lyrics, it can easily be passed off as a Christian song. In fact, when it first came out, CCM radio stations played it and Christian bookstores sold it. After the song got popular and sold a ton of albums, band members said things like "Can we get over the whole Christian music thing. It is so lame." and "What the f*** are we doing there" in reference to being on the Christian music charts.

The take away from this blog is this, be aware of what goes into your brain. Don't assume that if it is on the radio it is ok. Also don't mindlessly consume media and expect it NOT to affect you. Music and television and movies change you. They add vocabulary to your arsenal, the beats get stuck in your head (I call that an earworm), the ideas cause you to pause and think. Over time, your whole personality is shaped by the media you consume. Just be aware of it and make sure you like the person you become.


Doug said...

Everything we see and hear has an effect on us; I think some people are more susceptible to those effects than others. It goes without saying that parents should know what their children are consuming, but adults need to watch out for themselves as well. It never ceases to amaze me how hard I have to work to remember a fact I need to know for school, work, etc, but how easily I can remember with just a little prompting some advertising jingle from 20 years ago, or entire scenes from old Seinfeld episodes. I've found through personal experience if I make an effort to know where my thoughts or attitudes are coming from (What is this idea I have based on?) it is easier to weed out garbage I've picked up from popular media. Just ask yourself is this something I actually think or something I've been told to think? If a person knows themselves and always tries to live by a set of guidelines (whether their own, or God's) It is easier to recognize media manipulation and work to discard it. In this "information age" it is nearly impossible to prevent oneself from inadvertently being affected by media and music and requires quite a bit of effort, hard work and vigilance to limit media's influence.

Gary Hickerson said...

Amen! Well stated Jonathan.

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