Recently, I had a quiet night at home with nothing on my to-do list. This is a rare occurrence in my life, and I knew exactly how I wanted to spend it—curled up on my couch in my jammies catching up on episodes of my favorite shows. Specifically, I wanted to lose myself in the playful plots and powerful ballads offered by the cast of Glee.
That’s right, I’m a Gleek. At least I used to be.
As I caught up on the episodes I missed, I was shocked at the way the show had changed. This wasn’t a show about singing teenagers anymore. I saw girls making out with girls, homosexuality celebrated, virginity mocked, and faith taunted. It didn’t take me long to decide to put an end to my Glee marathon.
The content of the show had clearly turned toward shocking and immoral. But if I had been watching the show faithfully week after week, I’m not sure I would have noticed the change. It’s called desensitization, and it’s a dirty trick that the media loves to play on us. They introduce us to a new show or movie or book series with a plot that seems innocent enough. Characters are likeable. Language is clean. Sex is off limits. But very slowly that all starts to change. Our favorite characters start to make sexual innuendos. God becomes the butt of a few jokes. The plotline turns dark. But by then, it’s too late. We’re hooked, and we miss our cue to turn off the TV, put down the book, or walk out of the movie theater.
Just like Northern Pike. (In case you don’t know—that’s a really big fish.)
In a famous experiment about reinforcement, researchers put a Northern Pike in a tank full of his favorite food—minnows. Day after day the fish swam around the tank feasting on the minnows.
Then the experimenters put a glass partition into the tank dividing the Pike and his prey. The Pike swam into the partition over and over trying to get to lunch with no luck. Before long he stopped trying. After several days, the glass partition was removed and the minnows were free to swim with the Pike again. Even though the Pike hadn’t eaten for days and the minnows were available for the taking, he didn’t even try to take a bite.
The Northern Pike eventually died of starvation in the tank with his favorite food swimming alongside of him.
This is more than a science experiment. It’s a warning we should carefully apply to our media choices.
So often, the modern media offers us choices that seem safe and satisfying. We are swimming along with themes and messages that seem easy to digest. But too often, that doesn’t stay true. Shows start to tease our eyes with the lies of the world. We consider watching something else, but by then it all seems so appealing. By the time we are fully immersed in the lies of the culture, we’ve fallen for the lies hook, line, and sinker. It is a pattern that can starve us of our appetite for the things of God.
Take a hard look at your media choices. Have you become desensitized? Are there things that you are watching or listening to that aren’t fitting for a daughter of the King? If so, are you willing to pull the plug?
Girls, don’t be Northern Pike. Be salmon. Choose to swim upstream against the messages of culture. Choose holiness. Choose righteousness. Choose the things of God. Choose to feast on the things of God instead of starving your heart with the lies of the world.