I was recently reminded of the research of Psychologist George Gerbner who coined the term “mean world syndrome.” Gerber discovered that the more a person watched violence on television, the more likely they were to perceive the world as a dangerous place. It seems that in recent months, our news has been filled with a steady stream of disturbing news. Covid-19, racial unrest, violent protests, vitriolic political discourse, hurricanes, and wildfires have bombarded us with disturbing images and angry dialogue. The sheer volume of negative information has at times seemed overwhelming.
So, let me ask you a simple question. How is this affecting you? Do you find yourself discouraged? Are you more suspicious of people these days? Do you find that you are impatient or anxious? I would like to suggest something. Detoxify your mind.
Decrease your intake of negative news. Turn it off. Take a media fast. Take a break. For a day. For a weekend. Dare I say, for an entire week. See what happens. Fill that space with praise and worship music, classical music, biblical teaching, interesting podcasts, good literature, or something educational. (I can recommend some great podcast and books you can listen to on overdrive with your membership to Frisco Public Library.)
Listen to the challenge of Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8 NIV)
Pay attention to what feeds and builds up your soul and what does the opposite. While I am not advocating that we live uninformed regarding the world around us, I am challenging us to consider what our news and information diet is like.
If you have never done so, make a list of the media you typically consume in a day and the purpose you have for consuming it. For example, you might watch or listen to the news to stay informed, or listen to music or watch a show to relax. The point is, many of us are not aware of the kind of information we are allowing into our hearts and minds during a given day. We turn the radio or TV on as a reflex. Some of us keep the television on throughout the evening. Why?
Philippians 4:8 is ultimately about choosing what we think about. As Proverbs 23:7 says, in the old King James version. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is…”
Yours in Christ,