To participate more than I consume

Hey there folks, I took the long holiday weekend to work intensively on this relationship guide I’m writing (nearly finished!), and let the blog linger a little. But we’re back!

I keep thinking about the beauty and blogging thing, and especially my own thought process when I see folks in the media doing the work folks like me do, but without cameras and an audience.

Over and over, as I considered the issue, I found myself thinking, “…whereas in reality…”

Which I found interesting. Contrasting media with reality.

Because in reality, like at professional conferences, I *NEVER* wonder what role a person’s appearance played in their presenting at the conference. Might their appearance have played a role? Sure, I guess. But I never wonder about it.

And in reality, like sitting around in a bar talking about being a sex educator (btw, ALWAYS go to bars with the sex educators; we are definitely the most fun to drink with), I NEVER wonder how a person’s appearance affected whether or not they have the job they have. Could it have been a factor. Yeah. But I never wonder about it.

And in reality, beauty is various and complex and deep, and each person has a magnetism or charm of their own. Sometimes that magnetism is repellent rather than attractive, but still, it’s a power, and it typically has almost nothing to do with the shapes of their body parts.

In reality, you’re attracted to a person’s energy, their entire personhood, which is there before you when you meet them in reality, as opposed to when you see them on a screen.

In reality, we make decisions and develop opinions about people based on a richness of information that media strip from our “interaction” with that person.

So I’m creating a new rule of thumb for myself, and I offer it to you as something to consider in your life. It’s this:

Spend more time each day with members of your culture, in person, face to face, than you do consuming media about your culture.

I’m not counting email and I’m not counting any time spent at Google Scholar or my school’s library’s website, which I’m classifying as “research” rather than consumption. It might be a false distinction, but it feels right, it feels like that’s a different kind of information consumption. I also wouldn’t count reading a textbook if I were a student.

I’m counting websurfing, watching TV or movies, listening to the radio (though radio is more benign than anything with a video component), reading newspapers or magazines, or otherwise “consuming” culture rather than participating actively in it.  (There is an argument to be made that consumption is a form of active participation, but we’ll just skip that for now.)

My goal with this is to keep myself tuned in to the HUMANS in my life, as more representative of the world I live in than the IMAGES of humans available to me.

Because I don’t have a TV or go to the movies, this won’t actually be too challenging for me. I figure I spend 3ish hours just randomly on the internet most days, not working but just entertaining myself or learning things or whatever. So no less than that being a person out in the world won’t be a massive effort.

And just the process of coming to recognize that I’m healthier – and my culture is healthier – when I participate directly in my culture, rather than observing it mediated through corporations has already helped me move one notch further along the path to liberation from the socially/corporate constructed norms around women’s bodies!