Today, I'm reminded of the phrase "Garbage in, Garbage out"- associated with computer coding, and the very sensible idea that bad coding leads to bad program performance.
I'm thinking of it because of the disturbing dreams I had last night, and the clear link to a Netflix show I've been watching. It's an FBI show featuring an actor I like. But its plot centres on conspiracy theory- nothing is accidental, everything is a plot- and all the characters eventually live through a paranoid lens.
My dreams were populated with prisoners, images of stress and persecution. That has an effect on my body when I return to the waking world. I'm tense, and my mood takes a while to shift from gloom to the brightness of the morning.
Our body-brain - our nervous system- doesn't know the difference right away, between imaginary experience and real time experience. When the imagery is vivid, our bodies respond with hormonal and systemic reaction. Movies, plays, stories generate empathy, lived experience. We are affected, and this can be good. It's the root of charity, of humanitarian aid and activism. It's also the root of sadness, joyfulness, despair, love. It's why memory is so powerful, why trauma and loss take time to shift to a manageable state.
We can't choose everything that happens in our actual life, and our individual impact on world events has limits. But we can choose what to include in our 'mental diet' via news and entertainment. And wIth so much real-world stress and paranoia in politics at the moment, I'm going to reconsider my 'entertainment' diet.