Do yourselves a favor, friends, be more discerning consumers of information!

From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9

Do yourselves a favor, friends, be more discerning consumers of information!

Derek Maul

Saturday morning. Feels good, doesn’t it? Take a long, deep, breath. Typically, today is an opportunity to slow down, take in an extra cup of coffee, relax, and read the news before even thinking about heading downstairs to breakfast…

But I don’t want to read the news! The news doesn’t relax me, it increases anxiety.

So what should I/we do instead? We certainly don’t want to pretend that the world is not in the incredible mess that it is, reeling from a series of self-inflicted wounds, unable to do anything other than increase tension, and pain, and disillusionment for so many people. But it doesn’t help to dwell on it, either, to camp out there and wring our hands; it doesn’t help to allow ourselves to perpetuate the false narrative that humankind is completely lost; it doesn’t help to – as psychologist Albert Ellis said – to awfulize.

Fact is – and I know this because I am a news industry insider – things are not always quite so bad as they tend to look on your GOOGLE news feed.

Seriously. Sensation sells, and our attention as information consumers is all news organizations really want. Attention is a marketable commodity. It does not benefit the industry to say, truthfully, “Nothing sensational happened here today!” The real/authentic/best stories – more often than not – should be:

  • “People in America got along well together this weekend”,
  • Three police officers were filmed yesterday playing pick-up basketball with teens in a rough part of town,”
  • “Members of a local Presbyterian church sent out youth Sunday afternoon, and they documented more than 100 random acts of kindness,”

… Instead, media outlets are more inclined – especially if there is nothing salacious today – to headline something like this gem: “DIANA WAS STILL ALIVE HOURS BEFORE SHE DIED!!!!”

Do yourselves a favor, friends, be more discerning consumers of information!

Click, click, click!!

If you click on it, it is going to go around, circle the world at least twice, and then come back with a vengeance. Meanwhile true stories – good stories featuring perfectly wonderful people treating others with respect and love – are ignored to the extent that they pretty much disappear from everyone’s feed.

Yes, this may take some serious internal discipline, but I would like to challenge as many of you as possible to do the following:

  1. Assiduously avoid negative rabbit holes
  2. Refrain from repeatedly clicking negative, slanted, or sensational headlines.
  3. Instead, like, share, pass on, re-post, and click click click on articles that tell the good and encouraging human story that most of us live and enjoy from day to day.
  4. Find something positive in the news and share that.
  5. Go out of your way to encourage at least one person every hour of every day.

In other words, both consume and disseminate the kind of information that will contribute to the betterment of society, the promotion of people sharing good news stories, and the truth being told.

Yes, I said “the truth” – because the truth about this world is that – despite the ambitions of people like Putin (and others who regard power as more worthy of pursuit than the common good) – God has created a predominantly cooperative, encouraging, affirming, good, kind, helpful, loving, caring population of human beings.

We are the ones who need to promote this good story. Not only promote it, of course, but live it, and live it with the kind of passion that gains the attention of those who need to hear the Good News, and accept it, and live into it, and then share it – again and again.

Now that is what I call being good consumers of information – DEREK

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