I remember when I was a teenager and stayed up late at night watching television. There were times when I stayed up so late that the television station would start playing the National Anthem before going off-air.
On the screen would be a picture like this:
There was nothing else to watch. That was it. I had reached the end of the available viewing content for the day. With not much else to do, I would find my way to bed.
The world is different today. There is never a time when there is nothing to watch. There is an endless feed of content to consume in the age of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and others. You can drink long and deep from the content offered. As much as you consume, you will never get to the bottom of the barrel. When you get to end of one show, a button will pop up to take you to the next show.
These are infinity pools of content. Infinity pools are apps and services where there is a constant supply of fresh content to consume. Just hit refresh and more will appear.
Think about the Facebook app on your phone. You can scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, and scroll more, but you never come to the bottom end of the content. If you were somehow able to make it to the bottom, you could always go back to the top of the feed and you pull down. It will refresh your feed with new content to consume.
Shopping on Amazon can be another infinity pool. What can you not buy on Amazon? I go on to purchase furnace filters, but I also see a colorful phone case and a cool new hat. I click on these things only to discover other intriguing items for purchase.
Still, another example is YouTube. I recently opened YouTube to help me fix our dryer. But on the right side of the screen, there was an endless list of recommended videos for me to watch.
So what is the point of sharing all this?
The first thing is to be aware of the infinity pools. The goal of these services is to suck you in and to keep your eyes glued to the screen. The CEO of Netflix is quoted as saying that the greatest competition to Netflix is sleep. The sentiment is that if they could keep your eyes glued to Netflix 25 hours a day, they would do it. But as we know, there are only 24 hours in a day. Awareness of what these services are attempting to accomplish will hopefully make us more cautious as we approach the use of these services.
Realizing these services are not going to take themselves off-air, it is up to us to turn them off for ourselves. Build boundaries in your use of these services. Technology now enables us to set limits. Start by turning off the notifications on your phone. You don’t need to know the very second someone “Likes” the picture of your dog.
You can also create time limits. The settings on my iPhone allow me to set time limits for individual apps. It also allows me to set downtime where my phone will only function as a phone. Imagine that!
Know Why You Go Back
Consider the reasons we keep going back to these infinity pools. The reason that we keep scrolling through Facebook is to discover a sense of connection, of belonging, and acceptance. We are looking to that “Mention” or that “Like” for affirmation. With such a vast pool of connections, we hope that one of those connections will be of consequence. But studies show that the more we scroll through Facebook, the more lonely and disconnected we will feel.
But we keep scrolling, searching, and bingeing. We hope that the next show, click, or tweet will bring us the meaningful satisfaction we crave. There are endless possibilities. We think we certainly have to find something in all that content to be consumed. Why do we keep going back? For what are we searching?
Our Longing for Jesus
One day Jesus sat beside another deep well as a woman from Samaria came to draw water. He says to her:
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:13–15, ESV)
The infinity pools of apps and services will never satisfy us no matter how long or deeply we drink. They will leave us thirsty. Worse, they leave us drained and empty, having poured so much of ourselves into them.
Could it be that all the scrolling and all the bingeing is ultimately a search for Jesus? We all have a God-sized hole in our heart. The only thing that will fill that hole is God himself. But people try to fill that hole with so many different things like sex, money, entertainment, and social media. But nothing ever fits. All those things do is to expose the emptiness inside.
Jesus declares that he is living water. He satisfies in a way the infinity pools of apps and services never could. More than a few of us have regretted the time wasted in those pools. But no one who has drunk from the living water of Jesus has ever regretted it.
So come to the fountain, drink deeply, where Jesus’ love never ends.