The Exhaustion of Reacting

Let me describe the scene:

I’ve just read something controversial on the web. It may be a blog, a news article, an editorial – whatever, the point is it bothers me.  I believe it’s wrong or ignorant or ill-informed or many other adjectives. I begin to read the comments. There are strong reactions on both sides. With each comment I’m either vigorously nodding my head with a silent “yes! exactly!” or shaking it emphatically with a “are you kidding me? are you an idiot?”.

And of course, I have to add my comment, my voice … important it is, so compelling, so necessary.

And then there’s a link – to someone else who’s reacted. And I go to that link and read another article and the same thing happens. Whether it’s a link to a good source of information or a not so good source doesn’t matter – what matters is that the link draws me in and now I am fully a part of this viral reaction.

And I know I should get back to work, I know this is a terrible use of time, I know that the “Whatsoever is good, lovely, excellent, pure” thoughts left the first time I called someone an idiot for disagreeing. But no matter – because I am locked into this cycle and I need to see it through.

And see it through I do – to the end of the day and on into the night. Each link a little more compelling, each opinion putting its hooks into my mind.

I’m swept along in this swiftly rushing river of comments and reactions and I can’t find my way to the edge. I don’t realize that I’m heading straight towards a steep waterfall – and when I get there, I will go over the edge. I’ll be beyond saving. 

And night-fall comes and I lay down in bed and I am exhausted – exhausted because all day long I’ve been silently reacting. I’ve wasted valuable time and energy on reacting. I’ve been unfaithful to myself and my God because of reacting.

When is it time to stop the madness, to draw the line and say “No more”.

No more because time is a gift, and I’m wasting it. No more because my reacting is affecting no one but myself. My voice is lost and I’ve read so much I don’t even know what I think anymore – I just react.

This reacting on the internet is our modern-day mob mentality. While we look in horror at televised scenes of the Middle East and other parts of the world where mobs take over and terrible things happen, the same thing is taking place all around us. Seemingly the results aren’t as harmful but they are. Through our reacting, reputations are ruined, friendships broken, and minds made more ignorant.

I want to live above this reacting but it will take discipline and living counter-culture; it will take humility and realizing that my voice isn’t that important. It will take courage and help.

How about you? Are you exhausted from reacting and want to live above the fray? Or is this not your struggle? Let’s talk about this!

8 thoughts on “The Exhaustion of Reacting

  1. Yeah, I get sucked in too! I am learning to really watch the time I have, seeking out only blogs that add to my life. However, I am aware also that if I only limit myself to information (news, blogs, etc.) that I agree with, I am missing out on a lot in this world. Too much! Not enough time! Then I am led to mindfulness – just appreciating that I am breathing and living and that my daughter is finally asleep!!! I get back to quilting or reading or cleaning or whatever else fills my life with joy and I can have a real impact on. Most importantly, I turn off the computer and get back to my kids.


    1. Completely true about the need to not just read things we agree with. I like that you identified this. And your words on filling your life with joy, on recognizing where your true impact lies — that’s it. That’s where I need to focus time and energy. Thank you.


  2. I like this post very much, I just read someone’s post on facebook yesterday who was tired of all the anti Obama propaganda still coming though the election is over.I never thought of it as mob mentality though, I like that comparison for it fits so well.
    There are some things though that need to a voice. Not everything is a reaction sometimes it is an interaction or sometimes what you have to say might be truly very important; a point of view no one else has access to.


    1. I like two things: one – that you liked the post :); two – your last paragraph is really true and that’s where I want to be clear in my mind. When am I writing just to react and when do I really believe a point of view needs to be shared – particularly when there is an assumption that everyone reading believes a certain way. I’m glad you brought this up. I think for me it’s figuring out what the guidelines are in my own head – when is it worth speaking up, when do I need to leave it alone. Thanks Pari – for your wise response.


  3. I love this so much Stacy! I just went to the link and am going to embed in the post. Thank you. I love this line “Frankly most people are not swayed by your great persuasive argument” Exactly. I just wish I had posted this pre-election! How are you and how is Cairo? It was a year ago that we were preparing to go there for Christmas – I’m missing it greatly these days.


      1. Oh – You must miss it so much – we had Reuters live streaming on all day the other day. Thinking of you in this transition. There’s just something about Cairo….


  4. I know exactly how you feel and it exhausted me too! Someone once sent me this cartoon and now I am trying to be more cautious about where I comment or react. Frankly most people are not swayed by your great persuasive argument. So I’ve decided it’s best to save it for someone, a real someone, who might need the personal touch.


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