According to a recent study, “each day we spend, on average, five and a half hours on digital media, and glance at our phones 221 times.”
Just what are we doing during those hours? One phenomenon that has emerged is called “doomscrolling” (or “doomsurfing”), which has been defined as “is the act of spending an excessive amount of screen time devoted to the absorption of negative news.”
Just what is it about social media and life in general that makes people drawn to such news? For starters, there is something innate in humans that draws our eyes toward the sordid. Think of how traffic always slows down around a car wreck. Think of how local television news stations always lead with bad news. Think of how fast tragic news travels.
Now, Christians can and should be aware of suffering and bad news around us. When disaster strikes, Christians cannot bury our heads in the sand or be blind to needs. At the same time, much of what passes for “staying informed” or “getting the real news,” is really just an expression of our daily appetite for outrage and intrigue.
A little bit of gossip or feeling of outrage is what we desire, but feeding that desire often leaves us only wanting more. That partly explains how social media and the Internet are filled with millions of websites and popular social posts that gain attention based on outrage and intrigue.
Christians should not be the people feeding on such things. The Apostle Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gives timeless and timely lessons to us in the Book of Romans. Hear these words. “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you” (Rom. 16:19-20).
Did you hear that? We are to be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil. Christians would do well to be more aloof from outrage and intrigue. Why? Because we rest in knowing God is in control, and we want to be a people marked by calm confidence in Jesus.
C.S. Lewis said, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”
Are you looking too much at your phone to look down on others or partake in the daily outrage? If so, the next time you are tempted to spend part of your day “doomscrolling,” use that as your cue to pray and get into the Word, “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16).
In the end, that’s the kind of time investment that will make an eternal impact.