I've seen the word "consume" being used when people are talking about how, and where, they get their news. I've read such things as, "People consume their news electronically versus..." - you get the idea. Consume is a great word to use, but not how I've seen it written. I propose that, rather than you consuming the news and social media, they are really consuming you.
Before I go further, let me just say that the news, or social media, or any number of other things in our daily lives, are very rarely inherently good or bad. They are concepts, things, occurrences, and we give them meaning by how we relate to them. So, the intent of this blog entry is not to vilify any particular 'thing' but to focus on the most important element in the equation- us. Our perceptions and intelligence and faith, our free will granted by the Grace of God, allow us to transform the world. Therefor, as you read on, don't get caught in the trap of what the 'thing' is we're talking about, whether it be news or something else, but explore how you create what that thing means.
We have access to such an incredibly vast amount of information these days. Whether it's good or bad news, beneficial or harmful information, the sheer amount of it that we can access can be overwhelming. It requires a self awareness, and self restraint, that even the best of us can forget to use sometimes. Have you ever seen an article on your news feed that just affected your entire day? I don't mean something that spurred compassion, or the desire to help, but something that made you feel helpless and sad and disempowered. The moments when new information causes you to have better insight, more compassion, more faith in action, are all the benefits of a healthy relationship with access to more information. What I'm referring to here is when that balance is off. I think we've all been there. You might see a starving child, casualties of war- the list goes on and they are often in places in the world we have a limited real-world access to. These are things we are now aware of that, along the evolutionary line, are totally new ways of relating to our existence. It isn't that we shouldn't be exposed to such things but that the vastness of our exposure can be a problem.
Maybe the first 10 stories you see today about human suffering and the damage to the environment might make you want to help. But what about the next 5 stories, the next 10, the next 20? Or maybe seeing a friend's "perfect" life on Facebook gives you a smile, for the first couple posts. But then you see 10 more posts, you begin to compare your life to these perfect images. You may wonder- Can you live up to a standard that doesn't really exist anyway?
You're no longer consuming content, you're being consumed, eaten alive, by a reality that is distorted, compressed, and unloaded on you in a manner you aren't prepared to process.
What can you do about it? Change the way you approach news, Facebook, Instagram etc. Experiment with different methods of staying informed by being active in choosing what you want to see rather than passively bombarded with quantities of information. How much news do you really need on an minute to minute, hourly, daily basis?
I would suggest that we are all overloaded with information we really don't need. If you took 30 days, and focused on the things in your immediate surrounding, people and things you interact with on a daily basis, while only using news outlets and social media for things you wanted to actively seek out, rather than passively consume, your life, spirit, and that of those around you, would begin to transform.
Rather than scrolling through Facebook, look up someone on your mind and reach out. If you're wondering what is happening in your city, check the news specific to what you're actively curious about, then move on with your day. What I'm pointing to is that you need to be mindful and involved in what you interact with rather than being passively bombarded by scrolling information that never ends. You transform yourself from being someone who is being uploaded to, as if you're a computer being programmed, to downloading what you choose. I promise you that the changes will amaze you in ways you can't predict.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the way you get information, stop and change it. Take even the smallest steps and slowly find your balance again. Look at your family, your significant other, your kids, your friends, and be present. When you take back control of how you use these incredible resources available to us, you'll find they are only what you make them, nothing more or less.
If you, or someone you know, is truly struggling with this, please get help yourself, or help them get help. You don't have to feel depressed, helpless, like a constant comparison to someone else and their life. Overwhelmed and numb is not who you are. Reach out to someone you trust, reach out to us, reach out in prayer, but don't isolate yourself. You are not alone and you are not part of a information feed. God intends so much more and you just have to take the smallest first step to find out what that is.
God's Grace be with you- Pastor Rob