Your Brain on Clickbait

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Quick question

Have you ever been a victim of clickbait?

If you’re not sure what clickbait is, then you are the target market. “Clickbait” is the term for articles that bait people into clicking on them but have no real value, trustworthy information, or positive affect on the reader. They often leave you with a heightened sense of fear, worry, anger, and anxiety after leading you down a virtual path characterized by clicking meaningless articles that you never intended to end up at.

By the end of it all, your mind is filled with filth (or in the best case scenario, a ton of meaningless information) and you have no idea how you got from point A to point B!

Last thing you remember, you were looking at adorable photos of your niece’s Halloween costume on Facebook. Somehow, you awoke from your information-induced black-out just as you were about to type a well-formulated paragraph that will be your contribution to a long strand of argumentative comments on some thread about how Obama is the antichrist and BML are a bunch of reverse-racist thugs, none of which you have first-hand information about… but hey, there’s always Google!

Our society has fallen victim to such clickbait stupidity because we first embrace it within our own minds.

Some business mastermind caught onto this and decided to capitalize on our psychological weakness. A few cents per click adds up to thousands in their pocket very quickly. But my concern in the matter is not for the business ethics or the lack thereof.

My concern is that we are so easily manipulated.

Mostly, I am disheartened to see many of my Christian friends willingly hopping down these rabbit holes. It is a telltale sign of our inclination to grasp at things which excite us, all the while knowing that they are harmful.

While I have not often succumb to the obvious clickbait on the internet, I have made myself victim to the click-bait within my head.

This “emotional clickbait” is formed by an association I can link to past hurt that is accompanied by a timely whisper from the enemy. The most insidious attacks on my mind are those where the devil is simply waiting and baiting.

Lately, it has been the intrigue of fantasizing some horrific affair that my husband might be having while away on deployment… a convenient end to the suffering of missing him day in and day out,  and to my fears that I might someday lose him anyhow.

Once I fail to take hold of (and make obedience to Christ) a single worrisome thought, I become susceptible to a sequence of increasingly painful imaginings… whereby, I find myself in the dismal abyss of fear, hopelessness, anger, and anxiety.

You would never have known it to look at me, but this morning between two church services (during which I led worship)… I managed to work myself into that awful state of mind.

The devil is sneaky like that. You need only let your guard down for a half an hour between Spirit filled worship moments, and there he is sneaking up to try and steal your joy with emotional click-bait; hanging out on a Sunday afternoon with his hook waiting just for you.

I had gone from belting out the gospel, hands quivering in the presence of God, to crying on the floor in a heap of anxiety within minutes!  Wouldn’t you like to know what caused such a dramatic change in me, and so quickly?

Facebook messenger and expectation.

My husband didn’t reply as quickly as I would’ve liked and before I knew it I was  filled with rage and fear rather than abiding in the peace of my Father’s presence.

One unanswered, unrealistic expectation was all it took for me to go from “happy wife-praising-the-Lord” to “ball-of-anxiety-ready-to-divorce-her-husband”. The fact that my husband has gotten used to this over the years and forgives me quickly is of no consolation.

I have gained so much ground in this area that I thought I had overcome my anxiety for good. God took away my anxiousness when I prayed for relief. Why was I was seeking it out again? Fear cropped back up and I gave in. It confused me and broke my heart.

Now, I know what to look out for. I know with the click bait looks like.

It looks like fear of losing my husband. It looks like a racing heart. It looks like pride. But most of all what it looks like is a failure to trust in my Lord and Savior… a failure to trust that His blood covers every offense, even those which are not mine. It looks like beckoning that comes from unhealthy brain pathways… which will inevitably lead me away from my God.

I know now what these first thoughts tend to be. I have lived with this brain for over three decades. The signs are there, I just have to pay attention.

Sadly, I cannot tell you what pathways lie within your own brain that will lead you away from the Lord. I do not propose to know what you are thinking when you chase the click-bait down that rabbit hole. But I can’t tell you that there is nothing good that will come  of it.

Just like the articles, the click-bait in your mind is meant to feed you fear, misinformation, and worry.

I can also tell you with confidence that there IS hope in the Lord!

He  has overcome this world, including our stubborn little brains, and any force of evil that would influence them to turn from our Heavenly Father. So I ask you, as you go about your day, to pay attention to your thoughts.

If the thoughts we don’t consider can take us to such destitute places, how wonderful will the places be that our intentional thoughts can take us?!

My brothers and sisters, there is a war in your mind that you are ill-equipped to fight if you do not pick up your weapon of awareness. So, please put on the armor of God each day… but don’t make the mistake of believing that the attack will always come from the outside. Stay vigilant and sober minded.

Love you all.

Your sister,

Monica

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