A lot of fear has been circulating around our new digital centred worlds, as well as a lot of joy and positivity - if you know where to look for it. I’m the sort of person that takes on the emotions of others - often without even meaning to - subconsciously absorbing the positive or negative emotions that other people are putting out into the world. Something that lockdown has been teaching me is that this doesn’t just happen for me when I’m face to face with someone. I find myself reading a message or a post on social media or listening to a snippet of the news and what I consume has the ability to completely transform my mood. Is there anyone else out there feeling the same way?
The Bible says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
I think this verse can sometimes be attributed to the big things, the things we know are inherently unhealthy for us to have as a part of our lives. But I also think this verse speaks to the little things that can very easily go unnoticed. Have you ever found yourself feeling a certain way and not knowing why? maybe you feel anxious, down, apathetic or just ‘off’? One of the main questions I’m beginning to ask myself when this happens is: what am I consuming?
Everything consumable is designed to influence us - the internet, other people, social media, books, music, news outlets, films. Advertising and marketing is everywhere we go, everything is designed to help us subscribe to a particular opinion or worldview. And this is a good thing because it helps us to express ourselves and show the unique humanness that God has created us with. For example - how are you influenced by your Bible, how does it change your opinion or worldview? How does it make you feel when you consume it? Other examples - are there posts on your social media feeds that make you feel unhappy, less than, or jealous? Is the news making you feel anxious, scared or hopeless? Are the people you’re digitally connecting with lifting you up or bringing you down? Often we can consume a hundred different voices and opinions every day without even knowing it! How are they influencing us?
There is such great power in digital connection, in social media and in the technology that is providing us with the lifelines we need at the moment. There is a lot to praise God and be thankful for in the provision of these things. Technology is allowing the pain of isolation to be lessened, for loved ones to stay connected, for help to be provided quickly and easily to those in need. Social media is currently allowing the message of the Kingdom to reach people that it would never have reached in other circumstances - people are engaging with churches and coming to know more about Jesus. If that’s not something to be thankful for, I don’t know what is!
But - with all these wonderful things being kept in mind - I’m also finding that I have to be intentional about what I consume online, what I allow my eyes to see and what I allow to enter my heart. Consuming posts on social media or news outlets is often cited as a ‘mindless activity’ - do you ever scroll through your Facebook or Instagram and then remember nothing of what you read or saw? The thing is, even if you don’t remember it, you still saw it and that can still have an effect on us and our mood subconsciously, especially if you feel all the emotions like I do!
When we’re relying on technology and the media for so much right now - for information, connection, education and entertainment - we’re bound to be using it more than we did before. But remember - you have the control over what you consume and what you see. You still have the control over which voices you allow to speak into your life and how much of a part someone plays in your day. You can unfollow, mute, delete, unsubscribe or set time limits for yourself. You can even turn your phone, laptop, tablet off! Those thousands of other voices will always be there, clamouring for your attention and not rewarding you with much when you give in and listen. But there is one Voice that we should always be tuned into, one Voice that should be the loudest and most present in our lives. The Bible helps us out here with some amazing words of truth about this:
Matthew 4:4 - But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Mark 4:24 - And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.”
One of the things I’m trying to be intentional about during this time is making sure that I go to the Word before I go to the world. Making sure that I spend time with God, reading His truth and being reminded of who I am, being still and silent before Him before I switch on my phone and enter the noise and hustle of the digital world. This helps me to consume media through His eyes, to have my heart protected against the negativity and to truly connect with the people that I want to connect with. What can you do to ensure that you’re taking responsibility for what you consume?