Driving through Lowell late last night, my friend cranked up the radio to battle the sound of the rain pelting the windshield. The song: “Worst of You” by Macie Peters.
At first, I simply let myself be washed away by the song. It was calm but fun, sad but catchy. My friend and I continued quietly chatting and letting our bodies move with the music, at least as much as we could while sitting in the car.
But as our conversation lulled I tuned into the lyrics.
“You’ve got me right in the palm of your hand and you know it.”
“So give me your worst excuses—any reason to stay.”
“I’d rather you walk all over me than walk away.”
My face dropped as disgust towards the song mounted. But my friend kept smiling and moving to the beat. I couldn’t understand how my friend could be okay with the lyrics of the song. They were so degrading. So utterly offensive. I wouldn’t classify myself as a strong feminist; however, the portrayal of such an abusive relationship paired with such a nonchalant song truly and deeply bothered me.
But I think what bothered me most was the way my friend accepted it—even loved it. So, I showed it to a few more friends. Watched as they moved along to the song, really got into it, and didn’t even mention the lyrics until I specifically asked about them. And even when I did, they didn’t seem remotely as perturbed as I was.
This little experiment got me thinking; how much do we really take in subconsciously? And, how does what we take in affect how we act?
The answers: we take in so much subconsciously that there is no way to track it, and all those countless tidbits of information we take in are the driving causes behind how we act.
It’s like my mom used to tell me when I was younger and she was still trying to keep me away from “bad words” and that “horrible rap stuff”: “if you put garbage in, garbage will come out.”
Now, my mother and I may disagree occasionally on what classifies as garbage; however, her science is solid. The things we watch, read, and listen to, affect who we are and how we act and react.
We may not have control over our subconscious and the ways in which it affects us, but we do have some level of control over what we allow into it. By consciously choosing not to allow sexist or racist things to filter into our atmospheres, we can better work to remove such issues permanently.
If we never allow the “garbage” in, then it can’t ever come out.