It was just after 5pm and I’d closed my laptop, finished with work for the day. I picked up my phone and read the latest headline that flashed up on my screen. It wasn’t until 45 minutes later that I realised I was still at my desk, sitting in the dark, and had fallen victim to a terrible fate: doomscrolling. This article is one in a series (Connecting with Culture) from the the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity.
If you’re not familiar with the term, doomscrolling is when you can’t stop yourself from scrolling through distressing, saddening, or generally just bad news stories. It’s become especially prominent since the pandemic began. It’s like driving past a car crash and trying to get a look at what happened – you know it’s awful and frightening and not something you want to see, but you can’t look away.
A lot of alarming things have been in the news lately, not least the ongoing effect of Omicron, yet another illicit Downing Street party, and the cladding scandal in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy. If that’s not enough, Blue Monday is just around the corner. Even though it has been exposed as pseudo-science, there’s something about this supposedly ‘most depressing day’ that’s ringing true for me this new year. I have totally embraced the fear, the distress, and the hopelessness that the endless doomscrolling brings.
It’s easy to lose hope when the voices you listen to are ones of hopelessness, but as a follower of Jesus, hope is never far from us. We have just come out of Advent, when we rejoice that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. Even though Advent is over, we must continue to trust God and his promises, and trust that he does show up in our anxiety and concerns. Hope isn’t just wishing he would intervene or show his face somewhere, it’s having faith that he’s already there.
It can be hard to see how God is at work while you’re experiencing difficult times, and sadly there are many other people who feel distressed and anxious, too. So as Blue Monday approaches, I encourage you to share the powerful message of hope with those around you. Maybe this weekend instead of clicking on your news app, you could call a colleague to catch up instead, or give flowers to a neighbour, or say hello to passers-by as you walk the dog? Let’s demonstrate how hope conquers fear and doom.
Wherever you are, however you’re feeling, may the hope of Jesus transform you and your frontline.
Data and Systems Manager, LICC