Garbage In, Garbage Out: An Open (and somewhat angry) Letter to the Intellectually Obese

[consider yourself warned per the title and proceed at your own risk]

We need to talk about that KFC Double Down sandwich. 

Real Talk: I barely make it through the commercial without nausea. I was raised in the Deep South. I have as much appreciation for fried chicken as any other citizen of my butter-centric society. But I keep asking myself (and anyone within hearing distance) why in all of blue hell anyone would put that into their body. Knowing full well, of course, that this level of poison is delivered in nearly every bag from every window of every chain in this country and beyond. You know this. I know this. It’s dangerous. It’s suicide by triglycerides. And anyone who would deny it would be ridiculed from the rooftops. 

With the trend of clean, organic eating on the rise, facts about health and fitness are all but beating us in the proverbial face. And while I educate and put into practice these things for myself, it has become clear to me that the discipline I (with my giant head full of multi-nerdified brains) have applied to my mind for thirty years is, in fact, the same discipline that applies to the body. 

Turns out, most everyone has this all uneven.

This is where it gets real. And I’ll just go ahead and tell you that I’m not going to apologize for any offense that any stranger or any friend takes to the following words, as they are given out of great love and respect (of the highest form a real person is capable). Also, please know that while I do generally subscribe to (non-commercialized, non-westernized, non-American) Christian orthodoxy, this is not a post about the biblical standards of media consumption. It’s not even worth arguing about to me. This is not me telling you to stop listening to the radio and burn all your “secular” CDs or stop playing war-themed video games or watching The Walking Dead. It’s a broader problem than this. So, hear me with different ears, yeah?

Y’all, 95% of what is being shoved down your throat in both visual and literary media is the equivalent of that KFC Double Down Sandwich. I’m not joking. If you wouldn’t put that garbage in your body, why in the name of God and all things good and true and holy in the world would you put that into your mind? 

Before you start in on your excuses, let me remind you that “just liking [insert trendy, poorly written bullsh*t here] for the mindlessness/relaxation/entertainment” is the equivalent of just liking food for the taste. And will you please listen to yourself? In your body, that would be called an EATING DISORDER — by no stretch of the imagination or definition of disorders. You think you’re reading something “just for entertainment” and you can purge it out with not modeling your life after it? I’ll go ahead and name that logic for you: INTELLECTUAL BULIMIA. And it is doing to every facet of your mind EXACTLY what bulimia does to every organ in your body. Why, O why, do you continue to act like it is any different? I refuse to walk you through every detail of what these things in mass consumption do to your mind and your heart and your worldview because you are a grown person and me spoon feeding you this information is precisely the opposite of what I mean to do for you. 

Your body was made to function a certain way and cannot function well without proper nutrition. Yes, a strict and rigorous routine can be just as damaging to you as a complete lack of discipline. And that door swings both ways. But until you have taught your body to consistently eat well, particularly if you have certain allergies or targeted problems, you’re not going to be giving yourself a binge-day. You have to create good habits, right? And doing that means giving yourself rules. Because (HEAR ME): without good habits, under prolonged malnutrition, you will die

You should see this coming…

Your mind and your heart were made to function certain ways. They were wired to search for truth and goodness. And when you shove literary garbage into your mind and find yourself fighting (and denying) insecurities or fears or, hell, even psychological stuntedness, how can you possibly be surprised by this? You fed your SELF crap! You taught your MIND and your PERSONHOOD lies about your own value and the value of people around you! And death still applies here, friends. I might even argue that a dying mind or a person whose very soul is rot with death is far worse than any dying body. 

By continuing on this path, you answered to a name that fundamentally, inherently is not yours. It will never be yours. And it never should be. 

I am done pitying you for this, friends. My pity is not love or grace for you. Grace is telling you the truth: if you have practiced prolonged cerebral and literary laziness, you are intellectually obese. And you have not done the work. You will never know your name if you do not do the work to search for it. And why do any of us consume a story if not to find ourselves? Or each other? 

I will not list for you what I personally find to be literary junk food. This is not a mental diet plan. I am not the Dr. Oz of Barnes and Noble. 

[Actually, I kind of am. But that is not what this post is about]

It is your mind. 
It is your heart.
Ultimately, you decide how you are going to build it.
Or discover it.
Or save it. 

Garbage in, garbage out.