scumbag-brainAround the time I graduated from university, someone gave me a piece of advice: choose the people you hang around with.

They were talking about more than people being good or bad influences, or being able to open doors for me. They were talking about how the communities you join and the company you keep shapes your attitudes.

Their point was that attitudes are infectious and attitudes affect how you make decisions and go through life.

This is why we are what we do. Going through the motions affects how we feel and think about things, and it can be self-perpetuating. It’s the foot in the door phenomenon.

The same goes for the content and art we consume. Every time we read a book, listen to a track, or watch a show or a movie, we surrender a bit of our mind share and let others dictate the topics & themes we think about, and how we think about them.

This is probably why Plato was for censoring art in the Republic: he was worried that bad had more potential to corrupt the minds and hearts of the citizenry than good (or “excellent”) art would to enrich it.

Think about it: if all you listen to is Top 40 booty shaking hip hop, you’re spending a lot of time thinking about money, cash, and hoes instead of, say, how to be a better, happier and healthier person.

So the next time you decide to catch up on the last four seasons of some Gossip Girl or read the the complete Twilight series, think about how it’s going to affect your values, personality, and the things you do or don’t spend time thinking about. We only have a limited amount of time in this world, and what you consume helps build who you are and what you do.

It’s like the old saying goes: garbage in, garbage out.

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