Media Consumption and Mental Illness | Part 1


(Part 1 of 2)

I have an unpopular opinion. Shocking I know .

Do we take the Bible seriously when it says:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9) or is it just a cute decal pasted on our white washed walls?

Stay with me for a minute while I make my point. Wait till the actual end to be offended, if you must. There will be a caveat, promise.

My generation has put mental illness on a pedestal. It’s almost “cool” to have a mental illness. It’s hip to need a Xanax prescription or to pop psych meds to keep your composure. Depression, anxiety, emotional instability, OCD etc I mean there are t-shirts peddled on Instagram that have “anxiety queen” written on the front. It seems everyone is professionally or self diagnosed to some extent.

Parents would rather push a random spectrum diagnosis on their child than take responsibility for their shoddy parenting. Young adults would rather perpetuate confusion (gender confusion, conspiracy theories etc) than meditate on truth. People in general would rather entertain the macabre and unnatural.

It’s cute to be “dark and twisty,” to enjoy horror, psychological thrillers, sick and crude humor.

I have to wonder if accepting these wrong thoughts and meditating on them is adding to the mental illness culture we currently live in. I believe that verse in Philippians is more than a nice thought, it’s a command to protect our minds, to meditate on lovely things, truth, excellence, the just, honorable, and pure. Do you think maybe The Lord knew how vast the heartaches of this world would be? That our humans hearts and minds would be better off and healthier if we strived to focus on Truth above all?

I don’t believe it’s a call to stick our necks in the sand, plug our ears, close our eyes and completely shut ourselves off from the horrors of life here on earth in ignorance. But why would we willingly invite it into our lives?

Have you browsed through Netflix lately? What about Hulu or Amazon Video? It’s contents are primarily dark subjects. Glorifying teen suicide, normalizing homosexuality, a show where a teenage girl literally gives her soul over to the devil and it ends up being a good thing (?). I saw the dark direction TV/movie streaming services were headed back in college. It had been a hot minute since I’d logged into my Netflix account and when I did I was pretty shocked by the offering.

Social media is another outlet that is like an uncapped fire hydrant, practically drowning you in terrifying, anxiety laden sin and heartbreak. We were never meant to intake this much bad news. Whether it be the latest news story about how a child is being abused by their mentally unstable parent who is forcing chemical and physical sex change therapies on said child, a father that murders his entire family, or the latest political scandal. Funny enough, we’re living in the most peaceful time in history. The only change is the access we have to the entire world and all the hurt people are experiencing.

I’ll admit, I used to enjoy the dark and twisty and was not deeply phased, like I am now, to dreadful news; and then I gained experience with the real world dark and twisty, with trauma, and evil forces. Let me tell you people, I understand how it might be entertaining to those who have never had any real world experience with these things, but your human heart can’t handle it all and neither can your mind. You’re human, depraved, fragile. The best thing you could ever do for yourself is to obey God’s commands. For your spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental well being.

Caveat time.

All that being said. As someone who works very closely in the holistic health world, I’m more than aware that mental illness (as well as anxiety, and depression) can be out of someone’s control when it is a real physical imbalance or the symptom of some deeper physical illness. I know that cutting dark media out of your life won’t necessarily fix everyone’s mental state. But hey, it can only help unload some of the mental burden we’re all under, and also, it’s commanded of us. I also understand that not all parents are seeking diagnosis’s for their kids in lieu of taking responsibility for their parenting. But I have seen that happen more often than not.

I think as Christians we have largely underestimated the power of the mind (and the tongue) although we’re urged/warned/commanded in scripture many times over to guard our thoughts, to take control over our thoughts, to renew our mind from our old worldview, replenishing it with the things of The Lord. We have no idea how much time we do or don’t have have left on this earth. Why spend any of our minds precious time thinking on things that are of the flesh. Thoughts that don’t create a sound mind. We had a rule growing up. You were only allowed to watch as much TV, movies, spend time on the internet as you had spent in your Bible that day. I say that’s not too shabby of a requirement to have in adulthood either. Let’s make that our new goal. Feed your mind with life giving thoughts, friends.

In part two I will discuss some practical steps you can take to unload the mental burden of media.

“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.” - Luke 21:34

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:2

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” - Proverbs 4:23

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” - 2 Corinthians 10:5

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” - Colossians 3:1-2