The other day I found myself feeling anxious. Though I have struggled with anxiety since my teen years it has been a while since I’ve had any major anxiety issues so the feelings caught me by surprise.
I realized it was social media that was making me anxious. As soon as I sat down to read through Facebook posts, images on Pinterest, or tweets; I felt like my heart was racing and I couldn’t keep up. So many interesting things to read, look at, respond to, “like”. I felt worn out instead of connected.
It literally felt like I was experiencing some kind of culture fatigue; like I was on information overload. So of course I googled it to see if it’s an actual “thing” and it is.
Culture “Fatigue”: A fairly short-term response to “stimulus overload.” This occurs when you begin to respond to the behavior of the “new” culture and are stressed by trying to deal with lots of new cultural information all at once. Stress and irritation intensify as you attempt to study or work in a foreign environment. There is a cumulatively greater impact due to the “need to operate” in unfamiliar and difficult contexts. Symptoms intensify. Ability to function declines. It can occur soon after arrival or within a few weeks. It can hit you quickly and is often accompanied by “Language Fatigue.” Language fatigue occurs when, trying to use a second language constantly, you become physically and psychologically drained by speaking, listening, and finding meaning in, until now, a little used “new” language.
The term normally refers to experiencing physical and emotional exhaustion while in an alien or “new” culture so for example if you are traveling abroad.
“Cultural fatigue is the physical and emotional exhaustion that almost invariably results from the infinite series of minute adjustments required for long term survival in an alien culture.” From ‘Culture Shock’ by Alfredo and Grace Roces
So I thought “OMG, has the current culture become foreign to me? Am I a foreigner in my own culture?” Because I’m experiencing symptoms that would be similar to having to adjust to living abroad or visiting a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language or understand the customs.
Honestly, I think there are many great things about social media, the ability to connect with friends, have access to information, and learn about interesting things. But none of that should come at the expense of one’s health or relationships. It should not cause anxiety and it should not get in the way of spending quality time with the people in one’s life.
I don’t think I’m the only one who’s struggling with this but here’s the thing, I don’t have to continue this way and neither do you if you choose not to.
Personally, I’m trying to simplify; my life, time, etc., but in order to do that I truly need to get rid of the “noise” that is cluttering my mind first.
Lent a great time to do that as I am already intentionally seeking more quiet time to spend in prayer and with the Lord.
I also want to have fun with my kids, be in love with my husband, and spend time caring for my home.
I want to be there for my friends, spend time reading (actual books) and in quiet prayer and reflection.
The only thing that has been stopping me is well, ME. . .
So instead of “giving up” coffee, sweets, or meat for Lent (and beyond), I’m giving up some distractions an and trading them in for quality time with loved ones.
- I’m getting rid of my FB app on my phone, I’ll still check it but only a few times per day because I am also being intentional about praying for friends during Lent but I’ll do it when the kids are napping or at night after their bedtime.
- I’m going to observe a social media Sabbath for one day per week (at least).
- I’m going to attempt to use my phone primarily to make and receive telephone CALLS and get occasional directions as needed.
- I’m going to stop playing Bubble Mania while I’m supposed to be spending time with my husband. Because he is a priority to me and deserves my undivided attention.
Yesterday I had a great discussion with some amazing women about what it looks like for us to be “in the world but not of the world” after discussing our Pastor’s sermon.
I am realizing that “the world” right now is exhausting me and I’m not at my best. It’s time for some changes but only I (with God’s help) can make them happen.
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. John 17:14-19
What “being in the world” looks like for each of us may look different depending on how much we feel comfortable engaging in the popular culture.
But I guess in many ways it makes sense that I experience “culture fatigue” because even though I’m living in this world my true citizenship is not of this world so it is still somewhat of a foreign culture that I have to live in. . .
So for me, the best ways to combat the anxiety and fatigue is to dig into the power of The Word, prayer, and life giving relationships for strength.
How about you friends? Does anyone else experience this culture fatigue? How do you deal with it?