Handling the Glut

[ 4 ] Comments

by Michaela

A few days ago my husband and I watched BYUTV’s collection of episodes of Studio C, Divine Comedy’s mainstream version of their comedy show. (Truly hilarious, by the way.)  The next day after, I observed how my mind seemed to be fixated on comedy skits and situations rather than on what I wanted to think about. I’ve also noticed that whenever I have watched a bunch of a particular kind of show all at once, it tends to take over my mind the next day. This is particularly annoying when I’ve watched episodes on Saturday night and then fought to keep my mind on the Savior during the sacrament on Sunday morning instead of replaying snatches of TV in my head.

I pondered how it might be better to see the show one episode a day or one episode a week instead of all at once. That was how it used to be a decade or two ago. It used to be that you watched a show on TV and then when it was over, that was all you could see of it until the next time it aired. Now, we can buy every season on DVD and watch it nonstop until our eyes melt or we have to go to bed, whichever comes first. When we like something it seems unthinkable to ration it out.

But TV isn’t all we’re drowning in.
If we like movies, we can buy access to Netflix and stream one movie after another until… we are forced by our duties to turn it off. If we like the news, we can watch it 24/7 until we want to curl up in a ball and barricade ourselves in our homes away from the rest of the world. If we are curious, we can read Wikipedia and spend all our time following links to articles that intrigue us. If we’re gamers, we can play online video games with unending numbers of quests for hours with people across the world. If we like do-it-yourself projects or crafts there are more blogs, Pinterest boards, and crafting sites than we could ever look at in a lifetime. We can own more music, more books, more movies than would fit in our homes in hard copy. Nearly everywhere we are marketed to buy anything and everything.  We have more stuff than ever—clothes, toys, gizmos, transportation, etc. Portions served in restaurants seem to be getting bigger and bigger.

Our culture is in a glut.

It used to be that options were limited, but now they have exploded. On one hand more choices is wonderful, but on the other hand we are over-stimulated, over-scheduled, over-fed, over-entertained, over-spent…. And we still feel like we are missing out somehow because the vast amount of what we haven’t encountered subconsciously nags at us, making us think the thing that will really help us is still out there and we haven’t found it yet.

It brings a new meaning to the scriptural term “fullness of the Gentiles.” I also think of a scripture from Helaman:

Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.

At the same time, I also think of all the church resources that are available to us and a great explosion of goodness by which we can learn and also share with others:

  • Temples dotting the earth, coming closer so we can go more often
  • Conference talks and Ensign articles posted online as well as in hard copy
  • Teaching resources for just about every teaching calling
  • Opportunities to contribute service in family history indexing
  • Mormon Message videos to share what we believe in with others
  • Blogs by church members sharing their beliefs, experiences, triumphs, challenges, insights, and more.

It brings new meaning to the term “fullness of the gospel,” showing it to be not only fullness of saving doctrine, but fullness of access to doctrine and ordinances and fullness of participation.

There’s intense competition between the pull of the world and the pull of the gospel.

  • What practical limits do you set for yourself and your family to keep from drowning in the abundance of entertainment/ media/ possessions?
  • How did you decide on those limits?
  • How are you mitigating the effects of the world and allowing the Lord to have greater hold on you?

About Michaela

Michaela (Scriptorium Blogorium) is a true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool BYU Cougar who just happened to finish her degree at Arizona State University in Literature, Writing, and Film. She loves reading, writing, studying the scriptures, singing with the primary kids as chorister, helping people organize and de-clutter their stuff, and generally exuding enthusiasm for the simple pleasures and victories of life. She’s an honorary member of the elder’s quorum moving company and aspires to become many things, one of which is a good cook. She blogs at Scriptorium Blogorium and a few other places too..

4 Responses to Handling the Glut

  1. Bonnie says:

    This is a real issue for me, not just because I’m a chubby grandma, but also because I’m still working to shake the hold of the Depression off. My grandparents lived through it, my parents continued to live as if it were still hanging over us long after it ended, and I’m sometimes still there myself. I recently read the story (which I’ve printed and keep as a glue-in in my scriptures) that Philo Dibble told of Joseph Smith and the purchase of acreage for the saints in Nauvoo. He was truly not affected by want or plenty. I’m working to get there myself.

    The best way for me is to fast. It resets my heart, especially if I engage in long-term fasts that don’t include every crumb of food and every sip of water. Fasting clears my head. And we recently created an electronics-free zone in our family room. It was one of the best things we’ve ever done.

  2. jendoop says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. Our lives are saturated, just completely dripping with too much of everything. It makes our responsibility for choice that much more daunting. We are often fooled into making a choice without consciously making a choice (like the lyrics of a Rush song, “When you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.”) – at least that’s how I feel when I realize that I’ve spent 30 minutes checking Facebook or an hour on Pinterest. I don’t like to be anxious about being productive every minute of the day, but I also think I waste a lot of time. Instead of wasting that time on Facebook, I would be much happier if I just sat outside and breathed. How we spend our leisure time effects our overall mental health and I need to reign myself in.

    I like Bonnie’s thoughts on fasting. Our main living area is also without a TV, which I enjoy, but we all too often carry our laptops or Iphones in so there seems to be no such thing as a ‘no electronics zone’. This whole thing takes a lot of self control. (That may be my understatement of the year.)

  3. Marsha Keller says:

    Well, We don’t have Television for one. We do love movies, but we limit Netflix to ‘one out at time’. We don’t take magazine or newspaper subscriptions. We do however check the internet for news, short comedy etc, often for an hour or so before bed. We try to set an ‘unplug’ hour that sometimes works. (hah) and then to to our bedroom that is an ‘electronics free-zone’. We talk, we giggle, we read scriptures and other relationships books (some days/ weeks better than others when we simply fall into bed after prayers exhausted!).

    There is a glut, abundance is the new law, but sometimes a ‘diet’ can be sweeter than thanksgiving feasts of input. Well-said.

    Even on the gospel side of ‘good stuff’, I find that I enjoy and digest it much better in small portions. When I watch too many snippets or read too many articles, they become a blur and none of the principles stick. Even after the huge input of conference, I listen to one a day for the next six months (mostly. . . well, I try anyway) to actually assimilate all the spiritual nutrients in each talk. Sometimes less is indeed more.

  4. Ramona Gordy says:

    So a guilty pleasure for me is watching home shopping network; a host said, in the thros of shopping mania, “One is good, two is better, but more is more”. Even though I have been trying to wean myself from what I consider “bad TV”, the so called soft alternative is just as bad because they tend to play in multiples. Remember when you watched one episoide a week and waited expectantly for the next week? So the message is why wait, watch a marathon, get your fill. So I understand what you say about your thought process after; I unfortunately watched a Reba marathon and afterwards, I found myself talking to my husband about it as if “Reba” was an integral part of my life. It can be insidious. So, what to do, the scriptures admonish us to “garnish” our thoughts and subject them to Christ. I read my scriptures, I read many church related books that will help me to find a balance. But I also, practice not turning the TV on, or computer sometimes, and I “go outside”. I am working on “going outside” and enjoying the day, my neighbors, my friends, real people,walking my dog. Another way is to tackle that to do list.

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