Chances are you feel less safe today than you did four months ago, and it has little to do with COVID-19. If you have been spending most of your time at home with little interaction with people you do not know, and have been spending significant amounts of time on social media, you probably have a distorted picture of the outside world.
These days, you cannot spend time on social media without seeing videos of vandalism, domestic abuse, beatings, and even shootings. They flood your feed, and people you love and trust put them there. Posts that cause anger or outrage are the posts most likely to receive likes, comments, and shares, and that is what most people on these platforms are seeking. Social media was supposed to give a voice to the people, but it has become a megaphone for ignorance, and we are the ones spreading it.
If you spend enough time viewing acts of idiocy and downright evil while being isolated, you will begin to have anxiety about what is outside your door. You will become much more suspicious of people who want nothing more than to go about their day and be polite. If more and more people begin to feel this suspicion, there will be more and more distrust and conflicts.
If you are a Christian, and anything in these first three paragraphs resonated with your current experience, here are three things you should do to calm the anxiety clear up the distorted view of the world around you.
1. Get off social media, or at least reduce your time significantly.
In the U.S. violent crime has fallen sharply over the past 25 years, but because we see so many videos of criminal acts online, we feel less safe than when the crime rate was higher. From package thieves robbing front porches, to scam warnings, and attempted kidnappings, it is all right there for you to watch. In the past, when you would hear about a murder on the news, they would never actually show you the killing. Now you can watch it all unfold right in the palm of your hand on repeat, and your life is undoubtedly worse off because of it.
It is time to silence the input in your life that causes you anger and fear, especially in aspects of your life where you have no control. This is not a bury your head in the sand mentality; we should know what is going on in our world, but we do not need to know at such a granular level every time someone is robbed or beaten, and we certainly do not need to watch it all online. On top of that, we do not need to know every ridiculous idea that floats around online that strikes right at the heart of civilized society.
2. Be around people, especially people you do not know.
Practice social distancing and be cautious, but go to parks, take a short day trip and interact with people. What you will find is the picture of our world painted for you on Twitter and Facebook does not match reality. Most people are quite friendly and ready to share the world with you. They will have their own beliefs, but they will not try to manipulate or bully you into their worldview. Even disagreements can be civil and beneficial. The ability of people to care for each other has not changed much since the lock down began in March. Most people are quite pleasant.
3. Spend time in the Bible daily.
The word of God will do two things. First, it will give us a solid footing in a world where everyone on social media to trying to tell you what to think and how to believe. Views on sexuality, race, and human nature come at us with threats of cancel culture. There are even views contrary to scripture that come with the endorsement of the Supreme Court of the United States. It is not easy to take every thought captive to Christ in a world like this, but regular time in the word of God is a necessary step in the right direction. The second thing the Bible will do is calm our fears. We will see that God is still in control, and even the hardships we face, work for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes. In the end, the Holy Spirit uses scripture to empower us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. Instead of fearing the people around us, we will love them and desire to be with them and share the good news of salvation. We will find joy in the Lord as we act as salt and light in a fallen world, and the joy of the Lord will be our strength. Even in a world like ours, there is a peace that passes all understanding as we stand upon the rock of Christ Jesus.