Mind Candy

The assumption was that because I’m black, I’m safe in a bad neighborhood, or from a bad neighborhood. Did he know that the neighborhood was bad or just black?

Mind Candy
Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

I had to take a break from crazy-ass humans this week. I’ve been sick (hoping it’s not COVID) and trying to fill my head and spirit with positive energy. That means I turn off what is called the news for a stretch.

As awful as the world and its people can be, the news is an anomaly vs what is regular. When I was trained to write news, I was instructed to write--- the unemployment rate of 10 percent, or whatever percent; not to write about the employment rate of 90% or 95%. Story after story of human failing, catastrophic events, death, destruction, cheating, stealing, and no mention of what went right. It isn’t about who didn’t get shot, or the number of people who went 24 hours without committing a crime. It’s about what excites us because it’s not normal. However, I believe that a steady diet of news causes the mind to live in a place of cynicism and anger. Not to mention the biting sarcasm that I’ll credit to my time in the business during harsher days.

There is much to be angry about, but we need breaks. We must give our nervous systems, bodies and minds time to recover from the barrage of bad stuff.  I can’t even get into fake news, (that’s for another day).

When I feel the much-ness of too much information, I go on a mental vacation or take in what I call mind candy----something to watch that doesn’t require thinking or feeling. I ran across a dating reality show in which the participants are dressed in monster costumes and can only see each other in those costumes for several dates. Once they decide to either move forward in a relationship or ask the participant to move on, they see how the person looks. The object is to force them to learn about each other from the inside, out before being influenced by physical appearance.

As I watched the show, I couldn’t help but revert to old habits, I went all deep. I took the fun out of the show because I started thinking about world politics, race relations, and class wars----how would they be impacted if physical appearances were blocked. If we all walked around in costumes; would we annihilate hate? Can you imagine how different the world would be if we had no idea what others looked like?

Back in 1978, I was out with colleagues from my TV station in a place that wasn’t as integrated as what I was accustomed to. We were all having a great time talking about life, family, while under the influence and having fun. When it was time to leave, the white male producer walked me out and said, be careful, there’s a bad black neighborhood a few blocks that way. He caught himself and said, “oops, I forgot you were black.” Let’s peel away the insults first---the assumption that because I’m black, I’m safe in a bad neighborhood, or from a bad neighborhood. Did he know that the neighborhood was bad or just black? Beyond all of that, he had a new life experience. He got to know me as a person, rather than a one-dimensional stereotype and he admitted it surprised him. My sarcastic voice says congratulations.

How is this tied to Mind Candy?

I missed most of the show’s episode, overthinking the concept when my goal was not to think. But maybe mind candy is what happens when we think first, before jumping to conclusions or rushing to judgment. And the ultimate mind candy could be an environment or opportunity to do that.

Or, maybe I’m on too many meds…

Myra Jolivet is a storyteller. First a TV news anchor and reporter. Then came PR work and consulting. That's where she is today - banging her head against the wall - trying to help CEOs and political candidates tell their stories well. Myra writes a series of murder mysteries She was a kid with an imaginary friend. That says it all.