I'm pretty sure I've written about this before, but let me tell you, the one class that literally change my life while I was in college was Literary Criticism. That may sound weird, or super predictable because I'm one of those literature people, but let me explain, 'kay? Hear me out.
When I sat down for my first class with Professor McGinnis, she told us that Lit Crit was about more than just reading meanings out of texts that were never meant to deliver on those messages. Lit Crit was about a way of thinking and being aware, especially when absorbing media.
If you turn off your brain to watch TV or read a book, then you're shutting down the filters that would keep out the ideologies you don't agree with. If you're not thinking about what you're taking in, you'll end up taking in ideas that aren't yours.
That was when the door in my brain was opened and I realized there was so much in the world that was trying to influence me. We spent several weeks analyzing ads for Camel cigarettes, Coca-cola, and Kleenex and the messages those ads are sending to us every single day. In magazine ads, radio commercials, billboards, and on their packaging. It was honestly a little scary.
But it's not just advertisements. It's in every book, every poem, every movie, every video game. Everything that communicates anything at all is delivering on assumptions and messages that they're not being obvious about, because there's simply not enough time to explore every assumption fully. Besides that, it's convenient to use those assumptions to your advantage, letting the reader, viewer, or player fill in the information you don't have time to get into.
But this is how we end up with works that might be promoting a philosophy that isn't healthy, all without meaning to. And do you know what we call media that promotes a specific ideology without informing the consumer? Propaganda.
The point to all this rigmarole is simply that if we want to guard against ideas we haven't vetted for ourselves, we need to stay engaged and alert, whether we're taking in a movie, a TV show, or a book. Without that engagement, that awareness, we can end up inoculated with thoughts that didn't come from us or our beliefs.
I have no idea if any of this is coherent. Hopefully, it made some sense.