Staying Afloat in the Media Deluge


By Dr. Lisa Dunne.

The brain is “genetically programmed to be social…hardwired to take in signals from the social environment to alter its own internal states.” – Dr. Daniel Siegel, UCLA 

 “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” King Solomon, Proverbs 22:24


We live in a media-central culture. Every day, we are bombarded by sights and sounds that are designed to captivate us, to persuade us, and to convince us to think, feel, believe, or buy something. Despite the prevalence of media in modern culture, however, few Americans have been well-equipped to navigate the flood waters left behind by this mass media deluge.

Here are a few tips for managing media mania in your own life.

  1. Get Lit: Become media literate. Learn to read, dissect, and discuss the messages coming into your home and your heart. You are the filter.
  2. Consider the Content: Recognize the subtle and not-so-subtle philosophies and behaviors exemplified in what you are consuming, whether it’s song lyrics, magazines, movies, or TV.
  3. Garbage In, Garbage Out: If we live on junk food (the Standard American Diet, or SAD as it’s been called by nutritionists), we can expect to experience physiological sickness more often than if we lived primarily on healthy, whole foods. That’s a principle of input = output. The same is true in a sociological sense. If we take in “junk” media on a constant basis, we will become like the company we keep. As Neil Postman put it, we grow “sillier by the minute” in the deluge of “dangerous nonsense.”
  4. Pull the Plug: Instead of  sitting awash in the blue haze of the electronic universe, engage in something truly interactive. We zap our creative powers when we veg out mindlessly hour after hour in front of the screen. Take up a conversation or competition with a friend or family member. Paint a picture, create a recipe, invent a game, write a poem, read a book, take a walk, visit an elderly care home, serve food to the homeless, or become a mentor to a young person. Pull the plug and get engaged in the world you live in.
  5. Check Your Fruit — If we have 2, 4, or 8 hours of media intake a day, and we have one 10-minute devotional once a week, the sheer volume of influence will be overwhelming. We can see the influence if we evaluate the fruit of our lives. Do we exude love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Or are we filled with anger, envy, ingratitude, restlessness, frustration, cynicism, sarcasm, laziness, and a lack of discipline? These are the traits of a media-central culture. We need to spend time cultivating positive traits if we want a harvest of those traits in our lives. As the saying goes, if you don’t like what your getting, look at what you’re giving.

These tools and tips are discussed in greater detail in Emerge, but I hope this gives you a starting point for evaluating the influence of mass media in your life. Check out the other Tips and Tools pages for more helpful hints on breaking free of the cocoon of media socialization.