PLEASE READ THIS
Everywhere you go, people are vying for your time—especially on social media. In a world full of shouting, who should get your attention?
Logging on to Facebook is always something of an adventure. I’m never quite sure what my newsfeed will decide to serve up on any given day, but I can be fairly certain of one thing—there’s going to be clickbait.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “clickbait” describes sensationalist headlines designed to attract attention and generate shares on social media sites. The idea is to be enticing but vague, leading users to click the link and read the article, which generates ad revenue for the website. It works too, which is why my newsfeed tends to be littered with endlessly repeated and ultimately meaningless phrases like “Restored My Faith in Humanity,” “Literally Blew My Mind” and “Made Me Rethink Everything.”
So you click the link, and you’re rewarded with a video of some dog that learned to ring a bell when the trash can is full. Truly mind-blowing.
Hyperbolic arms race
Unfortunately, it gets worse. Because multiple websites employ clickbait, competing organizations respond by making their already over-the-top headlines even more sensational. This was basically the same approach taken by Russia and the United States during the Cold War, except instead of stockpiling nuclear weapons, the involved parties are assembling terrifying arsenals of quizzes and lists and 10-second videos of babies with infectious laughter.
Sitting on the shelves of nearly every home is the most neglected but important book in the world: the Bible. They are “shocking,” they are “heartwarming,” they are “terrifying,” they are “unbelievable,” they are “life-changing.” They are whatever superlative they need to be to get your attention, and they will shout at the top of their lungs with increasingly bombastic phrases until you give it to them.
The content behind those links is rarely as impressive as the titles promise, but websites will keep phrasing it that way as long as people keep clicking through—resulting in an industry whose primary marketing strategy is to shout “PLEASE READ OUR STUFF” in increasingly desperate tones.
A quieter approach
More than ever before, the attention span of the human mind is a limited and valuable commodity. Everything and everyone wants to turn your head in their direction, and they’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.
Well, almost everyone.
Sitting on the shelves of nearly every home in the United States is the most neglected but important book in the world. According to the American Bible Society, only 29 percent of Americans claim to read the Bible several times a week or more, while 28 percent say they never read it at all.
Maybe that’s because God doesn’t have a Facebook account. You never see Him posting articles like “These 10 Simple Commandments Will Make You Rethink Everything” or “You Won’t BELIEVE How Much These Fruits of the Spirit Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity.”
No, instead, God’s given us His Word, contained quietly within the pages of the Bible. He doesn’t demand our attention. He doesn’t shout and scream and make a ruckus to be heard over the noise of all the clickbait headlines flooding our newsfeed. God’s Word contains wisdom and instructions the entire human race desperately needs, but there’s nothing stopping us from ignoring it.
Still small voice
God led the prophet Elijah to a mountain in order to drive home a lesson. He gave Elijah the best seat in the house and then proceeded to show him some incredible things—a powerful wind that tore into the mountain, an earthquake and a fire. But each time, the biblical account tells us that God was not in any of these spectacles. He chose to identify Himself instead with what came next—“a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-13). It was actually so low that Elijah had to physically move to the entrance of the cave to hear it.
Rather than thundering with unmistakable divine majesty, the Creator chose to communicate with a voice that Elijah had to strain to hear.
Not much has changed since then. God’s words are still readily available to us, but hearing or reading them requires action on our part. It requires ignoring the incessant chatter of those seeking our attention and devoting our focus wholeheartedly to the invaluable treasures of the Word of God.
Searching for treasure
Clickbait may look intriguing, but that’s all it is—bait. It’s rarely worth your time, but it’s so eager to take that time from you. God’s truth, on the other hand, is easily worth every second you invest in studying it—but there’s a catch. Like Elijah with the still small voice, you have to step out of your cave in order to hear.
The book of Proverbs tells us, “If you seek [wisdom] as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:4-6).
Wisdom is out there, but you probably won’t find much of it being shared on social media. If you’re looking for something worth your time, then close your newsfeed, open your Bible … and listen.
We provide many resources to help you study and understand the Bible. For further insight, read our articles on “Bible Study.”