We don’t just consume food. We consume media. And we consume copious amounts of it without thinking about the consequences. And yes, there are consequences. To quote Aldous Huxley, “One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.”

Conditioning doesn’t just take place in the household and in schools. It happens more insidiously through the media we consume mindlessly and is a process that continues across our lifetime.

What you read, watch and listen to shapes your opinions and, dangerously, your beliefs. This includes your beliefs about other people, your beliefs about the world, and your beliefs about yourself.

The current debate around the dangers of social media on the minds of adolescents is one example of the world wisening up to what was initially just meant to be harmless fun.

As women, our ideas of beauty come from the images we are bombarded by constantly. The blaring message for women is that youth is beauty and beauty is power. A losing battle that if we internalize will have us chasing the white rabbit of beauty and youth to no avail.

Advertising is notorious for its ability to shape human behavior. That’s literally its goal. As responsible advertisers it is incumbent upon us to project images and ideas that encourage self-improvement of a more lasting nature than just the transient serotonin high a new purchase brings.

Don’t mindlessly scroll through social media. Be cognizant of the images you’re internalizing. Don’t just get your news from one source, get a balanced view to avoid confirmation bias. Don’t binge on romcoms manufactured to give you naive ideas about love (as fun as they are to watch, they’re the equivalent of binging on junk food: does you no good and leaves you worse for the wear).

In this era of information overload, give yourself (capital S self) a much-needed break by observing what you’re consuming and noticing the impact it has on you and your thoughts.

I’ll end with a quote from a man who foresaw the dangers of mindless exposure to half-baked media, the late, great Christopher Hitchens: “Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.

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