I heard a quote recently that seems to speak to the cultural phenomenon of fake news. Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” In the digital era with high-speed internet, we could say, “A lie gets all the way around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.”
And I have discovered that the experience of instant access to anything that anyone has to say leaves me in a very reactionary position. I see headlines and they provoke anger, fear or anxiety. And I have then wasted precious moments of my life reacting to something before I have a chance to explore the truth of what really happened.
What do we do in this environment? I have to stop the constant stimuli that is accessible to me when I am bored and have nothing else to do. I need to be suspicious of what I read. I need to get over the impression that I was given as a child that if it is written down it must be true.
And, I need to slow down. I need to access input from the world when I am ready to think about it. I need to slow the scroll. If I am scrolling through the distracting and chaotic feed of Facebook or of a news feed, I need to limit my time by giving privilege to more active endeavors. When I was working as a minister I was told, “Work expands to fill time.” I have now discovered that “Information has expanded to fill time.” I may not be able to limit the information that is available to me, but I can limit the amount of time I will expose myself to it.
So, I still have to work to manage my reactive spirit. But, I think I will try slowing my scrolling and limiting the time I am exposed to input. And I will wait till the truth gets its pants on.