INFOBESITY. Macmillan dictionary defines it as “the condition of continually consuming large amounts of information, especially when this has a negative effect on a person's well-being and ability to concentrate.” In layman’s terms, it’s when you can’t help but pull up a news or gossip site while working on the computer, likely over and over again any given hour. “News” articles that have no bearing on the quality of your life somehow become important and entertaining—stories like Wendy’s huge chicken nugget crisis or Rodrigo Alves’ 58th cosmetic surgery.
What is wrong with me? Why are stories like this getting and holding my attention?
Why does click bait taste so good but make me feel so bad?
My running theory is that the ability to quickly consume content has created a demand for content that surpasses our ability to create meaningful content, so we’ve trained ourselves to be OK with making and craving meaningless content. The longer this goes on, the more incapable we become of following complex arguments or thinking deeply for ourselves. Articles like this can no longer exceed 500 words, much less 140 characters. Books over 150 pages are now considered “academic.”
When Gutenberg invented the printing press around 1440, no one was worried that the population would read too little. Now that the Internet has made virtually all information accessible, we can hardly read at all.
No small wonder, then, that we hear common passages of Scripture and tune out the implications before the preacher has a chance to explain. I’m thinking in particular of this doozy:
Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, CSB).
Again, because of the way we’ve been trained to read in this day and age (if we read at all), we read this text like we read the map to the outlet mall. We get the information we need (completely void of relationship) and we have a slightly better mall experience because of it, but once we’re done with the mall, we’re done with the information. The information is only useful for the experience we desire.
Christian, you cannot come to the Bible this way! The Bible is not your news feed on Twitter or Facebook, much less your line of filtered images on Instagram. It’s not there for your casual consumption and eventual neglect. Jesus has all of the authority in all of the universe and has chosen to use you to make all of the disciples in all of the nations by teaching all that He ever commanded. And by the way, He will be with you all the while. This is no small thing! This is not mere information for your Sunday morning experience, but inspirational truth pertaining to your life purpose and eternal destiny.
Perhaps it’s time for you to go on a content diet … to shed some of those information pounds. Jesus didn’t come out of the grave and speak this commission and expect it to flesh itself out through our constant ingestion of human interest stories, did He?