I saw a quote last week that I can’t find today. It went something like this: “Whenever our awareness exceeds our agency we’ll feel anxiety.” The context was issuing a warning about “doomscrolling”–a term that describes excessive screen time devoted to highly negative media content. It’s addictive, and I believe a contributor to our epidemic levels of anxiety.
I wonder if the Surgeon General will ever issue warnings on this stuff?
I like the quote because it reminds me how weird our modern world is. I have 24/7 access not only to global stories but to the self published details of hundreds of people’s lives. A lot of it is really really sad. It makes me feel sad, worried, helpless–and yet, it’s hard to turn off. Indeed, we are made to feel irresponsible if we aren’t “up to date.”
I’m not advocating for shoving our heads in the sand. But some serious limits are definitely in order.
My readers know I love C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. I marvel at how they were able to create what they created. I’m amazed at how it’s survived the test of time–how relevant their work remains even now. The irony is that C.S. Lewis quit reading the newspapers. His friends were shocked at times at how ignorant he was of current events. He reasoned that if something really important was happening, his friends would tell him about it. He was saving his headspace, and his emotional energy for his work and for the people he had under his care. I think this choice to limit his focus is part (just one of many other reasons) of why he’s relevant now.
We definitely need people to be highly engaged in the happenings of our time. Our leaders need to know what is going on, and be able to help their followers understand how to live in these times.
We also need people to be highly engaged in other times–bringing the wisdom of the ages into the present so that we can live a better future.
All of us need to close the gap between our hyper-awareness and our very limited agency so that we can decrease our anxiety–and let “the peace of Christ rule in our hearts.” The people in our care need our tranquility more than the world’s problems need our worry.