We Are Addicted to Reaction

Did you notice something happened this weekend?  I am not talking about rallies, protests, violence or politics. I am talking about something else. Something that I find myself fighting against considering that I live life in a digital age.

It's an addiction that is running through every age group in our culture -- it's the addiction to reaction.

If you are like me, you probably scroll through various news feeds through out the day. Cute baby photos, new houses, cars, and jobs.  At least that's what we used to see.  Now, it's something else. It's a non-stop bombardment of hot takes and opinion pieces on what is happening in culture, usually with an emphasis on whose fault it is.

In 2015, I wrote a post called "WHO CARES ABOUT THE FREAKING RED CUPS!?!?"  The post went mini-viral, my blog got a ton of hits and people were sharing it like crazy.  I remember the feeling that I had when it started to happen -- this egotistical, self-centered, fame-hungry view taking over.  I wanted to feel it again, so I started keeping a close eye on what I could give MY OPINION on. Thankfully, I married a strong, amazing woman who will "edit" my blog posts and as my opinion pieces started becoming more frequent she found herself "unable to edit things", and by the time she got around to it, the time had passed, my hot take had cooled and I'd decided against posting it. Life lesson - marry an amazing woman!

I started to realize that I was addicted to the reaction.  I wanted to post the thing, with the perfect click-bait title, to get the most reaction, so I would feel awesome about myself. And after 2016 + 2017 I am realizing that I am not alone.

When something big and newsworthy happens in our culture, it seems like we are quicker to seek a reaction than to seek any sort of solution.

We are getting high off the likes, shares, comments, retweets of our instant thoughts, for the sole purpose of getting high off the likes, shares, comments, retweets. And all it produces is more hot takes, more reaction, more comments, more, more, more, more, more, more!!!

There are probably three types of people reading this. The first is the person who posted something recently about an opinionated subject, and wants to defend to me exactly why they posted it and why it was for the noblest of reasons. To you, I would say, if you feel good about it, then that's fine. I have no problem with you expressing your opinion on Facebook. I will just ask one question to you. Why are you expressing it? Are you doing it because one Facebook post is going to spur change in the hearts of man? Are you doing it because you think that this post will change the course of any one who has a problem with A, B or C? Or, are you doing it for the reaction?

The second type is people who posted something recently and are currently, right now feeling very convicted...not by me, but by the Holy Spirit.  You are realizing that you just enjoy throwing fuel on the fire for the reactions.  You love to play "devil's advocate" dressed up in "I just want to have a conversation." If that's you, just stop. Delete Facebook if you have to. Cut the addiction off at the source and move on. That was me. And even as recently as last week, I found myself opening up my laptop and typing a few opinions on the things that were unfolding around me.

I haven't stopped writing down my opinion since I realized I was a "reaction addict".  I still write and/or talk about the things I see happening in culture.  I just don't press post, don't push it out anywhere and usually only keep those conversations between myself and my wife, and a few close friends.

You might be the guy saying, "Well, you are writing your opinion now, aren't you?" Yes, I am, but it's not a hot take, it's not for the glory of likes.  It's something that I have been thinking about and praying about since last Friday evening.  I didn't write it just to get those sweet-sweet likes, like a twitchy heroin addict. I wrote this because I am guessing there are people in group two who are glad I wrote it, and are feeling like it's time to turn over a new leaf and step away from the share button.

That leaves the third group of people. The people who didn't post, who don't want to post, who probably were smarter than all of us and just stay away from Facebook when it comes to hot topics. If that's you, and that works for you, great. But it doesn't make you better than anyone in the other groups. Don't stand high and mighty, like Moses holding the 10 commandments as you proclaim, "I don't even have a Facebook..." We get it. You don't get a BEST-AT-BEING-HUMBLE-AWARD... because I already won it last week! 😂

Finally, there is a bonus group we all fall into and that is the fallen group of the human race.  We are broken, damaged, hurtful people.  You might be thinking that someone "is just so awful" and "you would never"... but I am guessing if we rolled over every stone in your life, and looked in every closet, we would find some darkness that someone else would describe as "just so awful."

This isn't a burn-your-phone-and-delete-your-Facebook post. This isn't even a "don't ever post about controversial issues" post.  I believe that there is a lot of darkness that technology is helping bring into the light, and that's good.  This is just a post about asking yourself, "Why am I posting this?" Is it because I am being compelled and pushed by the Holy Spirit to speak on an issue, or is it because I am addicted to the reactions I'll most likely receive. Only you can answer that question. No one else can.  But, keep asking yourself that question EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

And if you are a "reaction addict", find someone to hold you accountable to it.  Text them before you post and say, "Hey, I really want to say this... What do you think?" More times than not, it's probably best not to.

I see and hear a lot of people saying things like, "We are living in dark times.." And that's true! It can be scary, unnerving and just plain weird feeling. But, I will let you in on a secret.  We've lived in dark times since Adam + Eve decided to sin, but the greatest light ever came to earth to shine a light on all darkness. I'd encourage you to lean into Jesus when you feel the darkness creeping in... and not into the reaction to that darkness.