Tomorrow is election day in the United States, and for the last several months, it has been impossible to log on to Facebook without seeing paranoid ravings about "the media." Usually, the person assumes that everyone who disagrees with them has been brainwashed, while they themselves are immune to influence from the wider culture.
Such world views have a hint of truth to them. Media messages are powerful, and their power to influence culture relies on people accepting their narratives and symbols as true.
One example of this is the false binary I grew up accepting of brains vs. brawn or jocks vs. nerds. It's a myth perpetuated by every teen movie of the '80s and '90s. As a "smart" kid, I never felt like I needed to be physically active, despite growing up in a religious tradition that emphasizes the connection between the mind and body.
I have few regrets, but accepting the exclusivity of physical vs. intellectual roles is one of them. Getting to know so many fit guys has shown just how wrong I was. Most are smart. Some are brilliant, like Andrew (pictured above). He's a doctor, can build his own computer, plays several instruments, and can hold his own in conversations on most topics. Plus, as Zoolander would say, he's "really, really ridiculously good looking." Howard, who you can see below, has the sort of physique a comic book artist wouldn't believe. But he also has an MBA from an elite university and could teach you a thing or two about accounting and tax codes.
The media messages with which we need to concern ourselves are not those we fear others will believe, but those we have accepted ourselves and may be holding us back from living a more abundant life.