There’s no singular “correct” way to consume media, although there is an endless supply of unsolicited opinions about it. I have faith that your current media diet has evolved to make you feel inspired, informed and, hopefully at the end of a long day, entertained. This article is not meant to tell you to consume less media, or to consume “better” media. After all, me writing an article like that would be like Ronald McDonald telling you to eat fewer french fries. I consume everything, all the time, and I don’t apologize for it.
Instead, I created a few low-key resolutions with my own media consumption in mind. To me, the beauty of media is that it inspires us to develop our own perspective and creative voice. If your media consumption isn’t doing that, there’s no reason that it can’t with just a few small changes.
I hope these help my fellow binge-watchers and book club hosts to have the most fantastic media year yet.
1. Start the Day with Something Inspirational
Watching Riverdale while you curl your hair is a *perfect* way to start your day. But it’s also a perfect way to spend any moment of your day. Why not use the beginning to learn something or admire something?
I recently discovered MasterClass, which partners with legends like Annie Leibovitz, Steve Martin, and Shonda Rhimes to create lessons that share their wisdom with the masses. Each class is $90, but an all-access pass for a year costs $180. I decided that in 2018, I’m going to start watching one MasterClass video every morning while I get ready. I’ve already learned so much from the Annie Leibovitz photography course and I can’t wait to get to the secrets of Shondaland.
But you don’t have to sign up for MasterClass to gain early morning inspiration. You could turn to YouTube, where there are tons of free tutorials, or listen to a short story on the New Yorker’s Fiction Podcast. Whatever opens your eyes and stokes your creativity most, make it the first thing you consume every day.
2. Put What You Read into Practice
I love reading cookbooks, but I only get better at cooking by actually making the recipes. That’s when I discover what different ingredients taste like, why skipping step four leads to a smoky kitchen, and how to develop my own twist on the flavors.
But it’s really easy to read passively and never actually *do* what you’re reading about. How many workouts do you flip through in magazines on airplanes every year? And how many of them do you actually try? Obviously, you can’t act on everything you read about, but try flagging one idea every week to test out. This could even apply to pins on Pinterest—whatever seems fun or valuable to you.
3. Diversify Your Media Landscape
Take a look at your year-end “best of” list. Did your list of favorite albums, books, shows, movies, etc. include art made by plenty of women and people of color? I know, Hollywood is troublingly white, and men tend to dominate all kinds of charts. But there are tons of great works out there by people who never would have been cast on Friends. You may have to actively seek out media by people with different backgrounds or sexual orientations, but eventually, you’ll have fully entered a bigger, broader, more interesting world and it will start to become effortless. One great jumping off point is the Las Culturistas podcast. It’s helped me discover so many diverse comedians whose hilarious takes on culture have really opened my eyes.
And if your media diet is already super diverse, share your recommendations with your friends. Make your own year-end lists!
4. If You Hate It, Quit It
I used to feel compelled to finish every piece of media I started. I felt somehow like I wasn’t entitled to have an opinion unless I had watched the entire thing, read the whole book, listened to the whole album, etc. And yes, in an ideal world it would be nice if people would do that before casting judgment. But I’m not a pop culture critic and no one is paying me for my opinion. Why do I still feel compelled to finish something that is bland, derivative, racist, sexist, transphobic or just stupid? My hope that it would all be justified by a particularly edgy finale almost never panned out, so why keep expecting it to?
This also applies to social media. If you feel depressed every time you log onto Facebook, take a break. Let your loved ones know they should email you instead.
Our time is, sadly, very limited, so why spend it on something that you don’t even like? Spend more time consuming what you love. No apology necessary.
5. Hone Your Critical Chops
Consuming something as a pure, wide-eyed fan is *awesome.* You don’t need to understand the literary conventions happening in a book or the color editing in a movie. But your experience will get richer if you do.
I started learning about photography in 2017, and one surprising side effect was that I started to see movies in a whole new light. Not that I know much about filmmaking or editing, but just peeking out from behind a camera allowed me to appreciate the mood, setting and focus of scenes. It’s actually inspired me to learn more about filmmaking. If you love a type of media, order a couple books about making it. You’ll learn something new about something you love, and it might just inspire you to try making something yourself.
Becky Lang is a writer, creative director and occasional podcaster living in Minneapolis. She also likes to draw dogs and female protagonists.
BY Becky Lang - January 6, 2018
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.
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