It’s hard to deny how much the Internet has revolutionized how we receive information, providing instant access to content on almost any topic one could think of. In fact, it’s thanks to the Internet that you’re able to read this article in this very moment.
However, the world of digital media has also led to a plethora of books, articles, videos, podcasts, shows, posts, and stories, all fighting for our attention in a space overcrowded like never before. As citizens of the Information Age, this is often the daily norm as soon as we pick up our phones in the morning.
But is more always better? What do we do when it feels like there is just too much content – and not enough time to consume it?
The Epidemic of Infobesity
The availability of all this content (literally) right at our fingertips can make us feel like we’re drowning in content overload. Some have called it an “infobesity” epidemic.
The sensation can occur while perusing our Instagram feeds or digging through a seemingly endless inbox, thinking of all the books we’ve bought and yet to crack open, or opening a growing chain of tabs consisting of articles with catchy, well-optimized headlines.
As Christians, it can even be tempting to feel anxious about faith-based content. We can begin to think that there is just not enough time in the world to read all the books and articles, watch all the videos, and listen to all the podcasts and sermons we want to consume on tons of fascinating, biblical topics.
Gotta Read ‘Em All
Wanting to submerge ourselves in information, especially content designed to teach us useful knowledge, often comes from a good desire.
But, if we find ourselves experiencing more stress than satisfaction, we may be falling into “content FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out).
FOMO in terms of content consumption makes us believe that we constantly need more – that there is never such a thing as “enough.”
Content FOMO can even make us see ourselves as the sole drivers of our own entertainment, sanctification, or whatever end result we desire from the content in which we immerse ourselves.
When we focus too much on taking in all the content that we can, or when we are constantly, mindlessly scrolling through our endless social feeds, our eyes become glued to our devices. Obsession with digital stimuli prevents us from being present with the people, scenes, and even things around us that God may want to illuminate to us.
Instead, we should aim to maintain a “balanced diet” of information, trusting that God is sovereign in all areas of our lives, even in leading us to what we need to read, watch, or hear.
Psalm 84:11 says, “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
God our Provider ensures we receive what we need to know, all in his perfect ways and timing. When we forget this, we can suffer from unnecessary stress, or eventually even numbness, despite having lots of “good” content fed to us.
In the case of content consumption, quantity definitely does not mean quality. In addition, even when we take in helpful, educational content, it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t apply those lessons to our actual lives. We must remember to take active steps to turn our head knowledge into heart knowledge—our theories into lived experiences—while inviting the Holy Spirit to continually move our stagnant spiritual waters and mold us to become more like Christ.
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The Most Important Content Piece
Ultimately, when it comes to the content most worth prioritizing, no podcasts, sermons, books, or articles can replace the most important piece of content there is: God’s Word itself.
How often do we rush through reading a passage, and then hastily look to a more bite-sized or digestible blog post? Or what about skipping our daily devotionals, but still somehow having time to scroll through memes?
The next time you are feeling overwhelmed by content, ask yourself these 3 things:
1) Am I prioritizing God’s Word first?
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14
The Bible is our lifeline as believers. If we want to be filled up with truth and life, it’s essential for us to be plugged in daily to the ultimate source of Truth, which neither human knowledge nor user-generated material could replace.
2) Am I being mindful of how I’m spending my time?
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8
Remembering that we are called to focus on things that build up and not lead us astray can help us spend more time more mindfully when filtering through what to read, watch, or listen to.
3) What am I really trying to do right now?
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:31-33
Content overload can make us feel like anxious prisoners to a never-ending train of material. But we should not feel the need to treat what is optional as mandatory. At buffets, we aren’t actually supposed to eat every single crumb.
In the same way, though there is a lot of good content to consume, we should be wise in choosing what—and how much—to take in.
It may be tempting to think that there is “never enough,” when in reality, God tells us not to worry. Instead, we are called to trust that when we choose to put him first, he truly gives us everything we need – and more.
Being Content About Content
When we catch ourselves stressed by content overload, let’s think about what we are actually trying to accomplish. Perhaps we come to realize that we’ve even made an idol out of content, using content as a crutch for what we’re really looking for, rather than relying on our Heavenly Father first.
In a world of too-much-information, it’s easy to get sucked into the whirlwinds of countless things to read and watch. Instead, let’s ask God how we might better trust in his provision of all that we need, including the content we need to see, and to invest our time wisely for his Kingdom.