To Hell With Prozac and Exercise, I Gave Up Talk Radio…

To Hell With Prozac and Exercise, I Gave Up Talk Radio…


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At some point last year and for reasons I don’t remember, I stopped listening to music on my daily commute and started listening to talk radio. Perhaps I thought it would make me smarter, more relevant at cocktail parties (even though I don’t do cocktail parties), more interesting in my local bar. Perhaps I was just looking for a change. Perhaps I unknowingly matured and actually thought it was time to start giving a crap about what was happening in the world around me. In the end, the ‘why’ in this case is irrelevant because the outcome of altering my experience was completely unforeseen. I got fat (OK, fatter) and depressed and nihilistic (OK, more nihilistic). So, for companies that still do not understand the power an individual has in terms of controlling and changing their experience and engagement with your offerings, here’s an example.

If a customer likes you and continues to like you, they will do business with you. If they don’t, they won’t.
— Paul Greenberg

I started with National Public Radio (NPR) because everyone who says “I heard this on NPR…” seems to have instant credibility and I figured it would provide a well-rounded rundown on art, politics, social issues, etc. At first, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the NPR staff; enjoyed the interviews with artists and authors; enjoyed the daily rundown on MarketPlace. But my joy was short-lived…too much repeat content. I figured out quickly that my commute times meant hearing the interviews more than once and while repetition may work for some, it bores the crap out of me.

So I switched to a Headline News station and listened as terrorists attacked, ships sank, national disasters claimed lives, the planet warmed, and Californians started dying of thirst. I did not notice it at first but apparently the onslaught of calamity carried over from my car into the office. I cracked fewer jokes, smiled less, found myself convinced the world was on the brink of destruction and believing the human race needed nothing less than a global extinction event. I stopped watching what I ate, consumed more Coke than water and found myself just not caring. I mean with all the things going wrong in the world, who really wants to live longer?

80% of CEOs believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8% of their customers agree. (Bain & Company)

When the WHO announced bacon is now bad for you, I couldn’t take it anymore and switched to the POTUS channel thinking since it’s politics of the United States for the people of the United States and I am a person in the United States, perhaps there would be something, anything, to serve as a beacon of hope.

The change was interesting because I found myself not just feeling that the world should end but now really intellectualizing about the pros and cons. I thought more about the state of the world and our role, as human beings, in it. I approached it as I would any complex problem — applying every ounce of critical problem-solving skills I possessed. But while I wasn’t looking, this analysis began to possess me.

I developed an addiction to the Michael Smerconish (@smerconish) show on POTUS finding him to be more balanced and grounded in reality than the majority of left or right leaning radicals I was hearing everywhere else. His insights, perspectives, and assessments were informing and thought-provoking, and I was irritated when he would go on vacation and have a guest host barely worthy of any air time not to mention my time.

I listened as ISIS captured and beheaded people, as Hillary spent time trying to convince us her email server was justified, as bombs exploded on Russian jets and organized terror attacks were carried out in Paris. I listened as the debate over #BlackLivesMatter raged, as cops were shot or unarmed black people were gunned down. I listened to the debate about how President Obama wasn’t doing enough, how Putin and Russia were supporting Assad and as social morays were challenged by Kaitlyn Jenner.

91% of unhappy customers who are non-complainers simply leave.
survey from Esteban Kolsky —@ekolsky — ThinkJar

My time away from work was consumed with discussions and mental masturbation about all of it with no end in sight. I started drinking more, consumed with the need to hit the bar and talk about ‘what happened today’. My waistline continued to expand as did the opinions on all of these topics with no end in site.

Then a friend fell out of a tree and was paralyzed from the waist down. Six days later another friend passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack just hours after we had all been planning his next run for Sheriff. Forty-eight hours later another friend passed away unexpectedly. In the span of seven days, my global concerns vanished and I found myself focused on what it means to be a friend and part of a community.

The next Monday I climbed into my daily commute and didn’t want to hear people talking so I pushed the pre-set button back to a music station. I found, as I had before, solace in the music. Over time, I found the peace.

I started looking for new albums, taking time to really appreciate art again, started discussing new installations at the Denver museums and what exhibits would be arriving in the coming months. Then when I wasn’t looking…I started to smile. Then I started to lose weight. My blood pressure dropped and my waist line relaxed.

When my ability to laugh floated back to me, I realized it had returned with a small bit of hope. And that was when I realized just how powerful what we listen to, what we consume mentally, is just as important as what we feed our bodies. I had become an addict as I listened to talk radio — read here ‘the big media machine’. I had gotten lost in the constant onslaught of negativity and lack of kinetic motion.

Today, I listen to talk radio no more than once a week (only The Smerconish Show), focusing on music or audio books and tempering what I consume. I’ve lost ten pounds, reconnected with friends and come to the conclusion that for all the beauty we as human beings can create we are our own worst enemies. Everyone gets to make a choice and mine…well, mine is to embrace the moments with my friends, take action as I can and remember, in the end, no one knows if tomorrow will arrive. I have become much more selective about the services I engage with and the companies I allow to influence my experiences.

The last thing I want to hear or think about are messages delivered by a media machine that has a tendency to be nothing more than a nuclear reflection of our darkest selves or the companies that sponsor them. So I continue to take control of my experience, I change the channel often. And yes, I know none of the media companies or advertisers care about this change, I just wonder how much more they could benefit if they tried to understand my ‘why’.

Stop by the Universal Mind website and learn more about how we can ensure your digital experiences don’t add weight to or increase the blood pressure of your audience.

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