My high school government teacher required us to subscribe to Newsweek. We were to pull articles for several months that would become part of a larger project.
I felt overwhelmed because there were so many articles I wanted to read, and I worried that informed adults kept up with all of it.
I felt behind, like from here on out I would have to read Newsweek cover to cover.
Fast forward and now there’s even more knowledge to gain and information to consume. Blogspot and YouTube and Facebook made us all publishers. With Google and maybe a few dollars, but usually for free, anyone can share a message.
Overall, I think the world is a richer place for it. I’m invested in this shift as one of the many writers using a blog to refine my skills and share my work.
But here’s the thing: we will never be able to keep up with the multiplying content, even the good stuff.
There are smart, insightful, wise and funny people producing great work from their corners of the Internet. But we can’t read all the blogs. We can’t watch all the funny videos.
Mass media hasn’t slowed down, either. Awful television and movies will probably always be with us, but there are also some really good, interesting things to watch.
Subtly, the bar has been raised. There is so much available for free that our expectations for paid content are even higher. But we can’t follow every good show. We can’t see every good movie.
What about social networks? Unless you keep Twitter open all day, you’re definitely going to miss something. And you know what? It might have been something really compelling. You might have missed something good.
I think we are missing something if we dismiss this new world of media as a waste of time or distraction. There is much to gain here: education, encouragement, entertainment, relationships.
I don’t think the relationships and learning and expression the internet affords us are an escape from our real lives; they are an extension of our real lives.
What does detract from real life, mine at least, is mindless consumption. When the fear of missing out or the urge to procrastinate calls me online, it becomes an escape from real life.
I have boundaries (that I break about half the time) to keep this somewhat in check. I make a point to pray and read God’s Word before I take in anything else. I don’t check social media before lunch or on the weekends. (This is the one I break the most often.) When I spend time with people in person, I put my phone away. I probably need to add putting away screens of all kinds at least an hour before bed.
There’s a trigger in my brain that at least alerts me when I violate any of these. If I didn’t have those admittedly loose boundaries, I’d most certainly be scrolling through Instagram and reading blogs like it was a full time job.
I’ve learned that quiet time alone with my own thoughts is incredibly important. God teaches me through other people, but I need to be personally available for the things He has for my heart alone.
It’s a balance, one that can be found by consuming intentionally and guarding the quiet in our lives.
Here’s my question: do you media binge? Do you have some boundaries that help with the balance?
This post is part of a 31 day series on “doing less to build more.” To read the other posts in this series, click here.