Give it five minutes


Yesterday I finished listening to How to Think by Alan Jacobs (a book I highly recommend). Something that’s incredibly powerful is a story he shares at the beginning of the book. Jacobs was listening to a lecturer, and strongly disagreed with what was said, so much so that he went up to him right after the lecture was over and told him so. The lecturer listened patiently and simply responded, “Give it five minutes.”

This theme comes up again and again throughout the book, as Jacobs encourages us to learn how to think better. And one of the ways we can think better is by taking the time to think at all, which is essential in the age of social media. If we don’t dash off our hot take, we’ll miss the retweets and the traffic, after all. Instead, he advocates a better way forward, a starting point for healthier dialogue: Take a deep breath. Think through what you’re responding to. Give it five minutes.

This is an approach sorely needed right now. We seem more inclined to think the worst of one another than ever before. Whenever I review my Twitter timeline and Facebook Newsfeed (an increasingly rare action for each), it’s a flurry of negativity. And it doesn’t seem to matter what it’s about. Whether it’s politics or pop culture, it seems likely that whatever is going on in the world is going to incense someone.

But that’s not really much of a way to live, is it?

I’m obviously not suggesting this is an answer to trolling, and hot-taking on blogs. But maybe it’s a place to start, especially for us as Christians. Reactionary and Christian really shouldn’t go together. Trolling and Christians really shouldn’t go together. Hot-takes and Christians really shouldn’t go together. If you read something today that really cheeses you off, maybe instead of responding with a snarky meme or a raging subtweet, let’s do something radical, and give it five minutes.

If it’s still important after that, maybe we’ll be able to respond in a healthier way.

Photo via Pixabay

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books for adults and children, as well as multiple documentaries and Bible studies. His latest book, I'm a Christian—Now What?: A Guide to Your New Life with Christ is available now.