Most of us pay attention to the food on our plate. But how about our intellectual menu, the feedstock for the mind? If physically, you are what you eat. Then intellectually, you are what you read.
Our physical menu has its nutritional value and balance. So does our intellectual menu. Paying attention to our intelligence intake is as important as choosing healthy food. However, most of us feed our mind unconsciously and leave our intellectual diet in the hand of advertisers, cable news, Google and Facebook.
There are dire consequences of such neglect. Some people have their heads stuffed with lyrics from popular songs and conversations from TV shows. As a result, they are programmed to function like a soap opera. The mass media has created conditioned reflexes that dictate one’s behavior and way of thinking. From this perspective, there is a great deal of virtue in memorizing Confucius, Koran, Bible, poems, or the value of Pi (3.1415926…).
In today’s consumer society, it takes conscious effort and hard struggle against the current to maintain independence and critical thinking, and to avoid intellectual malnutrition or poisoning.
Recently, I conducted a very helpful mental exercise. I listed all my subscriptions, newsletters, email alerts, and other sources of reading. Then I took a step back to examine these sources, and pondered their impact on my worldview and mindset. One result of this exercise is that I started a subscription of Fox News Opinion. I think it’s important to know what is out there --- just to be “fair and balanced,” you know.
Such “internal audit” of our intellectual diet can be applied to many more aspects of our life, and will certainly yield surprises and improvements.