Ah, social media, the obsession of the modern age. Addictive and compelling, so many of us check it every day, several times a day, not just on our computers, but on our phones everywhere we go. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, LinkedIn; we just don’t seem to be able to leave it alone. So many of us compulsively read it often, lest we miss something since the last time we checked. Add to this our favourite online news sites, and traditional news sources such as newspapers, radio and television, and we get a steady diet of information about what is happening in the world: tragedies and travesties from around the globe.
Recently there seems to be more than the usual obsession about what is going on in the news. A new world leader (you know who I mean) is behaving in an attention-seeking way, and it’s working: people are glued to their media sources, fascinated and appalled about what he might say or do next, or what people might say or do in opposition to him. Anxiety levels are simply “yuge”, and the various consequences of anxiety are starting to show: frustration, anger, paralysis, and depression. Is this what Jesus wants for us: to be glued to our phones, computers and televisions, aghast and upset by things we can do nothing about?
Happily, the liturgical season of Great Lent is upon us, a blessed time when we are invited to pray, give alms, and fast. Can we not take the opportunity to fast from our addiction to news and social media, to generously share ourselves and our resources with others, and spend quality time with Jesus? The world will be the no worse off because we are not following the news. But we will be all the better for focusing on Jesus rather than social media, better because we are filling our hearts and minds not with the world’s news, but the Good News. Jesus is the one who deserves our attention. This Lent, let us give it to him.