Love & Hip Hop Atlanta

I think we’re all pretty clear on the fact that junk food can kill you. I mean, I don’t hear any doctors advocating a steady diet of Big Macs and super sized fries.

But despite this, folks still load up their bellies with double Whoppers, Twinkies (if you can find them), and all manner of junk (uh, guilty). But they do so knowing that they’re waistline will likely expand, and they may need a few more trips to the doctor when they get older.

But what about our minds?

Though we know the risks of a steady junk food diet and many of us are opting to live healthier, more balanced lives, a lot of folks don’t know or care about the risks of feeding our minds over-processed, harmful crap.

We happily read ratchet blogs, consume hours of “hilarious” videos of people behaving badly, tune into political pundits argue it out, watch hours reality shows that do little but make us shake our heads and feel superior to the idiots on the TV, and reading…what’s that?

According to a 2007 survey by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), we have almost all abandoned reading for pleasure for quick bits of information like blogs, twitter, and TV.

CBS News distilled the survey down:

  • On average, Americans ages 15 to 24 spend almost two hours a day watching TV, and only seven minutes of their daily leisure time on reading.
  • Reading scores for American adults of almost all education levels have deteriorated, notably among the best-educated groups. From 1992 to 2003, the percentage of adults with graduate school experience who were rated proficient in prose reading dropped by 10 points, a 20 percent rate of decline.
  • In 2002, only 52 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24, the college years, read a book voluntarily, down from 59 percent in 1992.
  • American 15-year-olds ranked fifteenth in average reading scores for 31 industrialized nations, behind Poland, Korea, France, and Canada, among others.

Pretty scary, right?

As someone who has always loved words, I’m a little ashamed to say that until recently, I was one of those folks reading just 7-minutes a day for pleasure (yes, yes, judge), while watching a jillion hours of TV, and combing Facebook, Twitter, and other blogs for writing material (or just killing time).

Recently, though, I inadvertently flipped an internal switch. Perhaps it was brought on by my birthday, or maybe my mind just got tired of being stuffed with junk, but I’ve been reading like a fiend lately….and I love it.

Over the past two month I’ve devoursed novels, business books, self-help books, books about writing, books about love (my fav), and I’m still going strong.

This return to nourishing my brain has not only left me feeling calmer and more introspective, but also more creative as well.

I wonder what I could have created had I kicked off this book binge sooner?

At any rate, this time has been eye-opening on a few levels. Over the past few weeks I’ve come to grips with the fact that:

1)   It’s ok if I’m not OUTRAGED at every little stupid or mildly racist thing that bubbles up on social media (Which seems to happen every day. Peace to Paula Deen).

2)   It’s ok if I don’t know what happened on the last episode of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta (or *insert show here*)…and don’t care.

3)   It’s ok if I feel like staying home and reading on a Friday night instead of going to a party.

4)   It’s ok if I put myself to sleep by telling my own made-up stories. Who knows, I may write them down one day.

Along with helping me be more a more patient and happier person, reading improves our health. It can increase our attention spans, empathy for others, and exercises your entire brain. And I don’t know about you, but I plan on being a hot, brilliant mama well into my 80s, so if reading can keep my brain as fierce as I plan to look, I’m IN!

While I’ve been enjoying my time with books, I’m not trading in ALLLLLL of my guilty pleasures.

Don’t get it twisted, I’m not a reality TV basher (uh,”Pregnant & Dating”? I’m here for that), and at times, I indulge in a little bit of ratchet entertainment. All things in moderation, after all.

But going forward, I will adopt the 80/20 (ok, maybe 60/40) rule for my mind.

Mostly good sh*t in, hopefully mostly good sh*t out.

And as a writer, what more can I ask for than that?


*Originally posted on

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  • The Comment

    Well. I just cut off my cable only because I did not want to get in the habit of using the tv as a babysitter.

    But when VH1 came out with Single Ladies starring Stacy Dash….my gosh I just had to watch it. I had to support Anthony Williams, former contestant of Project Runway. I don’t live in predominate black city with a boat load of successful/powerful/ black people with old money—so I had to watch this show. I loved it.

    I had to watch Love and hip-hop New York & Atlanta cause…well because I always wanted to know what life was like on the East Coast. It was a glimpse into what some people eat. How they dress. The weather. The music.

    And I did become addicted to the shows. Addicted to the drama. Addicted to the reunions.

    But I’m sure if they came out with a quality show starring a great cast of non-black actors (cause I’d like to see Azn, Arab and other actors too; they live in America too you know) I’d be down for it.

  • Nakia

    The written word, in most forms, is simply outdated. If it’s not on a screen of some sort and can’t be finished quickly, forget it. If you’re not over 30 and college educated, you are probably not reading a book. For me it’s a habit. I grew up when reading was actually fundamental, when you weren’t considered in-the-know if you had not read certain books and were able to discuss them, and when libraries were used for more than their computer labs. That is not today’s world and it’s is sad (but people also don’t use film, land lines or postage stamps). If I’m not reading SOMETHING, I feel like my brain is melting and the t.v. is taking over. I turn off the t.v. at a certain point and read every night, but I admittedly, am not canceling my cable. I love my dramas (The Killing, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead) and a little real housewives of ATL for good measure (gotta stay up on my pop culture references).