I’ve got an earworm, and I’ve got it bad. A couple of phrases from the song, “Addicted to your Love” by the Black-Eyed Peas are ricocheting around my head like a dollar-store bouncy ball. “Addicted to your love—and I just can’t get enough! I’m addicted to your love!”
The earworm keeps burrowing and burrowing. It just won’t leave me alone. Standing in line in the grocery store: “I’m addicted to your love.” Driving down the freeway: “I’m addicted to your love.” Brushing my teeth: “I’m addicted to your love.” Answering email: “I’m addicted to your love.” It’s been happening for days now, and it’s driving me crazy!
It wasn’t even particularly invited. I don’t have the song on my iPod. I don’t know the rest of the words. I just happened to have heard the snippet somewhere a week or two ago—maybe on the radio or on TV, or maybe as the background music in a store. . . I’m not even sure.
In any case, I’ve been thinking about the way it’s been popping up in my head uninvited, and what that tells me about the way our minds work. Our brains have the amazing capacity to absorb and process information. When we’re exposed to something, that bit of information goes into our mental filing system. And it stays there. Somewhere.
Our minds constantly rummage around in that filing system in the background—working to process the information and make sense of it. Something like a computer moving around bits of data to defrag a hard drive. For example, has it ever happened to you that you couldn’t remember a person’s name, but then it randomly pops into your head hours later—long after you need it, and long after you’ve stopped thinking about it?
Your brain grabs hold of what you see and hear whether you like it or not. That’s why you need to be so very careful about the sights, sounds, and ideas that you expose yourself to. That snippet of sex in the movie may only last 30 seconds, but you can be sure that your brain has retained and filed that bit of information away somewhere—and that your subconscious mind continues to process it, even when your conscious mind doesn’t. That sex scene can pop up in your mind uninvited for years to come.
Because we live in a sinful world, we can’t avoid a bad earworm or two. But we CAN avoid an evil earworm invasion by avoiding sights and sounds that will invite them in. And we CAN combat their effect by constantly filling our heads with things that are pure, right, excellent, praiseworthy, lovely, admirable, noble, and true (Philippians 4:8).
As Paul encouraged his friends in Rome, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:1). So next time you’re considering whether you should tune in to that TV show, go to that movie, listen to that song, or read that magazine, ask yourself if it will help renew your mind, or if it will just expose you to another bad earworm.