By Rivka Willick
For most of us, an occasional ice cream cone or order of fries is OK, but a diet filled with junk food will sooner or later cause health problems. The same applies with junk stories. For most of us watching a procedural, reading a serial romance novel, or sharing a self-absorbed story is harmless, but bingeing on stories with addictive, simplistic, or narcissistic elements will dumb you down, emotionally stunt you, and dull your spirit.
So, how do we find the right balance for a nutritious story diet? It will vary for different individuals and may be a little tough to get a grip on, since stories are so entwined in our lives.
Let’s go back to the food analogy to find our answer. Some people have a very low tolerance for sugars, fatty foods, and starches. If you have heart disease, diabetes, or binge eating disorders, you need to limit and illuminate certain foods. I believe there are similar conditions connected to our story intake.
- Media Binging- If you are obsessively watching, reading, or listening to stories for hours at a time, losing sleep, skipping work, or avoiding responsibilities consider limiting or cutting out the types of stories that you’re hooked on.
- Irritability and social isolation – Certain stories are structured to build dependency; these often are simplistic and repetitive. If you find yourself separating from others, consider expanding your story diet.
- Fatigue and a Dumbed Down Feeling (Couch Potato) – If you’re spending a lot of time reading, watching shows, or listening to stories that lulls you into a complacent or dull state of mind, consider reducing or changing your story habits.
You may not fall into any of the above categories, however a conscientious examination of the different types of stories you take in every month will help you stay balanced. After all, you want a diverse diet of both food and stories. If you eat nothing but greens, eventually you’ll have problems. The same is true with your intellectual, emotional, and spiritual consumption of the world around you. (We are focusing on stories, because stories are sticky and show up in everything). Try to take in some challenging stories, along with some inspiring tales, narratives that connect, and some playful yarns.
Also try to take in a variety of story forms. If you mainly watch TV, add reading or listening to stories on the radio, as blogs, or audio books. If you have a seat with your name on it at the local cinema, try to take in a play. And don’t forget live, unscripted stories.
Next blog: When Junk Stories Become Personal
How do you handle the Junk Stories around you? Leave a comment.