Obsessed with your news feed? Tune in to God’s messages!

If we’re feeling overwhelmed by negative news, it’s worth considering what God is telling us. This brings balance and peace, as a woman experienced after the pull to ruminate on each day’s news began regularly disrupting her sleep.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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Have you heard of “doomscrolling” or “doomsurfing”? These are new terms that describe the habit of endlessly scrolling through negative news and social media feeds, which reportedly increased during the pandemic. According to one source, the trend has been linked to anxiety and depression, but is somehow strangely soothing.

Although I wouldn’t identify myself as a doomscroller, I would say that this past year I consumed more news than perhaps at any other time in my life in an effort to understand the many intricate issues going on. At one point, I started waking up in the middle of the night with the day’s news running through my thoughts and disrupting a peaceful night’s rest. When this became a pattern, I knew I needed to pray.

My practice of Christian Science has taught me to put God first in all that I do – to be guided by God. A favorite verse from a poem by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, says: 

Shepherd, show me how to go
O’er the hillside steep,
How to gather, how to sow, –
How to feed Thy sheep;
I will listen for Thy voice,
Lest my footsteps stray;
I will follow and rejoice
All the rugged way.
(“Poems,” p. 14)

To the degree that I’ve listened for God’s guidance and followed it, I’ve been able to feel more at peace and help others feel that peace as well. So in praying about my disrupted nights, I began by considering what God was telling me. God, who is divine Truth itself, conveys what He knows, which is His own infinite, divine goodness, including what we each are as expressions of that goodness. In the light of this infinite goodness of the creator and creation, doom or evil can have no legitimate presence and power, so God could never inform us of either.

As I put more emphasis on listening for God’s voice, I found myself less compelled to check the news cycle so constantly and more open to hearing the “latest news” from God. It wasn’t that I stopped paying attention to my news feed, but rather that I engaged with the news in a more balanced and productive way. And before long, I stopped waking up with disturbing thoughts from the prior day’s feeds, and my sleep normalized.

In many ways the past year has been a steep climb, punctuated by a constant loop of negative news and predictions. But an article I read on doomscrolling also mentioned a newer trend, called “joyscrolling,” looking for positive news online. I’ve found that leaning on God as our Shepherd and guide has helped me find a really substantial joy and peace. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). The same timeless truth of God’s love that Jesus came to proclaim, is the light of the world still available for each of us to discern today, bringing healing and redemption to troubled hearts and minds.

“How beautiful and delightful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace, who brings good news of good [things], who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7, Amplified Bible). We can all turn to the divine source of good news that’s available 24/7. As we do, we’ll find that this calms our thoughts, so rather than obsessing we find ourselves progressing.

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About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

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