Apathy and the media

Like most of you, I find myself growing increasingly dependent on technology. This is not entirely my fault. When I moved into my new house at the start of last term, we found ourselves without internet for a month, which presented all sorts of logistical problems to do with university work, paying bills, applying for jobs and staying in contact with people. There was a time when not having the internet in your own home was only a mild inconvenience; now, it has become almost a necessity. But even if I hadn’t needed the internet, I would still have found that month difficult, because admittedly, the internet is a big part of my life.

Perhaps you can’t relate to that, but can you honestly say that watching TV doesn’t take up much of your time? Or maybe playing video games? I don’t think any of us would know what to do with ourselves if we were suddenly transported to a time before these things existed.

These inventions are amazing and I don’t need to enumerate all of their countless benefits, before you point out the hypocrisy of me bashing the internet and then posting it… on the internet. What I’m getting at is that it’s easy to make some really unwise choices regarding our exposure to media. I don’t think this is news to most of you. I definitely know that I could be making better choices sometimes. I just signed up to a month’s free trial on Netflix and I am wondering if that was a good life decision.

Joking aside, this can actually be a serious issue. I believe our technology is not only gluing us to our sofas, but drugging us into apathy. The garbage we’re consuming is making us sick and tired. It’s the entertainment equivalent of fast food; quickly produced, palatable, designed to make a profit and ultimately unsatisfying. It rarely leaves a lasting impression except one of mild disgust.

I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again- I have a problem with the whole concept of making shows where the aim is to make one person famous for a short period of time, whilst simultaneously publicly ridiculing the poor delusionals who don’t stand a chance. Is it something to be proud of that we get entertainment out of this? And to further my mini-rant, why do we keep watching shows about vacuous rich socialites whose lives revolve around their money and their troubled romantic relationships? We call these shows our ‘guilty pleasures’, suggesting in the very phrase that we are fully aware there are better options out there. 2 Timothy 3:2 states: ‘For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy.’ (ESV). We are seeing all of this in the media, and much of it is actually glorified. Perhaps I’m an overly sensitive soul, but I do believe that just as food affects the performance of the body, the media we consume on a regular basis has an effect on our inward state of wellbeing.

Even arguably high- quality entertainment is keeping us from productivity. Instead of building relationships, improving our skills, getting fresh air and finding out what we want out of life, we often choose instead to sit and watch a constructed reality of someone’s else’s life. Or we escape to the internet- the world of social media and information overload. It’s so easy to fall into a trap, and without realising it, we can get stuck in a routine that keeps us not only from action but even from contentment.

Honestly, I feel a growing sense of frustration when I see all this potential in everybody, and so much is wasted. I mean, maybe my imagination is running away with me a bit, but I think of the great architects and composers of ages past and marvel at their incredible accomplishments. Yes, technology has opened up myriad possibilities to aid us in other incredible accomplishments, but not if we don’t make smart choices about how we use it.

Make no mistake, apathy is extremely dangerous. God desires us to live with vitality and passion, but when we become apathetic what are we good for? I mean that in the widest sense possible, because apathy will suck the joy out of everything you do, and it will prevent you from imparting joy to others. Have you noticed that enthusiasm is contagious? It’s the people who have the greatest enthusiasm that I want most to be around.

To be completely frank, I’ve been struggling with apathy for the last few months. Most of last term was a struggle because in many ways, I didn’t really want to be there. It felt like trying to run through water; an enormous effort. I fully recognise that it is not always possible to put your whole heart and soul into everything you do. January is not an easy month for most people. Many experience a lack of motivation during this time, and many more- myself included- suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a feeling of lowness due to lack of Vitamin D. But- and this is addressed to myself as much as to anyone else- we don’t really help ourselves by succumbing to lethargy and allowing television or the internet to claim all of our spare time.

So think smart about your technology. Go and get inspired, do something that makes you feel alive. Refuse to be beaten by apathy.

That’s all I got. I hope it’s relevant.

Love as always.