Stop Freaking Out!
A couple of weeks ago christian musician Matthew West came out with a new song titled “Modest Is Hottest”. It was a cute, funny song about an overprotective father not wanting his teenage daughter to dress too raunchy. The song was full of satire about the dynamic of a teenager wanting to dress to fit in and a father not ready for his daughter to grow up yet. There was also a biblical aspect to it. 1 Timothy 2:9-10 says, “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” The song started gaining some popularity and then the fireworks happened. Without any warning, a lot of secular and christian writers, bloggers, personalities, podcasters and just random people on social media, came out against the song. Then the national media got a hold of the story. The headlines shouted everything from Matthew West is old fashioned, to he’s an over controlling parent, to this will set back women’s rights and everything in-between. People were saying the song “perpetuates some harmful ideas' ', “makes me want to puke”, “implies that women’s bodies are for men to look at” and it is''creepy ``!
With the fireball that erupted on social media and the internet, Matthew West decided to get rid of the song. It has been taken completely off the internet. He then went on to issue an apology saying, “I wrote a song poking fun at myself for being an overprotective dad, and my family thought it was funny. The song was created as satire, and I realize that some people did not receive it as it was intended.” And just like that.. the song was gone. Think about that chain of events; a song is released, there is an outcry and then the song is gone…ALL IN UNDER A WEEK! This was another example of a large overreaction causing someone to overcorrect. My direction in this article is not to critique Matthew West’s song. I have my opinions on it but that is not what I want to write about. There is plenty of that out there for you to read for yourself on both sides of the debate. What I want to focus on is the reactions. The reaction to the song, the reaction to the reactions and Matthew West’s reaction. Or maybe it would be more proper to state it as an overreaction.
Matthew West with his daughters
The more I sit back and take in how we react to things today, the more I see everyone just freaking out! We overreact and overreact often. We like to blow things out of proportion. We don’t make mountains out of mole hills, we make skyscrapers out of only one pebble. We lack perspective. We lack patience. We lack self control. We want to take things to the extreme. Thus, we also lack nuance in our opinion of things. Why does everything have to be catastrophic? Why does everything have to be an all or nothing approach? Matthew West has a new song that some people may not agree with. So we have to erase it like it never existed? Can’t we have a discussion? Can we ask Matthew what his intent was? Can we talk it out like adults? Nope. We have to overreact. We have to freak out. We have to join the mob. And then we have to label the situation with supercharged words like “Scandal” “Backlash” “Slammed” “Controversy” and “Hellish” because that will get more of a reaction out of people. We have to quickly spit out our two cents online and social media. And with the quick collective chump change of everyones opinions Matthew West overreacts as well by overcorrecting. Thus he immediately removes the song from existence.
What happened to stepping back and taking a look at something? What happened to conversation, looking at different perspectives and listening to varying opinions? What happened to reflection? No way! Instead, people took the liberty of interjecting their own views of Matthew West’s intent without ever asking him! What happened to taking a breath? Where is looking at the nuances of the situation? Why is there an all or nothing approach? Why does the song have to be deleted? Can’t we just talk about it? Why does there have to be overreaction and then deletion to the overreaction?
And while I am mentioning just one instance, this seems to be the norm for our society. Our history is another example. Is our country’s history perfect? No. Is it all draped in holiness and righteousness? Hardly. Did our forefathers do some horrible, sinful things? Absolutely. But does that mean we have to eliminate our history? Do we have to eradicate everything that reminds us of our past? Can we not discuss the good with the bad? Can we not learn from their mistakes? But instead we have to eliminate everything that reminds us of our past. We must overreact, have an opinion and freak out! This then leads to the overcorrection. Instead of taking the good with the bad, we have to eliminate it completely. Wipe it away as if it was crumbs on a counter.
Or look at the same series of events when it involves the police. Are our police perfect? No. Are there some bad officers? Sure. Do they make mistakes? Yes. Have some gone bad? Done things that are criminal? Broken the law they swore to uphold? Yes .But what do we do in response to this? Overreact. Freak out. All or nothing. And then it leads to overcorrection. We must now defund the police. Eliminate them. No conversation. No analysis. No review. Instead we get overly emotional and demand eradication. We don’t discuss anything. We don’t sit back and look at the overall good they are doing but only highlight the few mistakes. We don’t look to see if there could be another solution. We can’t even contemplate anymore that there will always be human error! Everything has to be perfect. There can be no slip ups, no mistakes. Someone has to pay. Someone has to be punished. And we overreact and look to eradicate. We now want to now delete the police like Matthew West deleted his song from the internet.
Why all this hysteria? Why all this overreaction? Why all this overcorrection? Why are we freaking out so much!! We need to be aware of this ourselves in our lives. We can do the exact same thing on a much smaller scale. Someone makes an offhand comment and we get very upset. A coworker gives some critical feedback and we get mad or bitter. A brother or sister in church says something sarcastic and we freak out! “Well what if what they said was wrong? Or Sinful? Not Christ-like?” Then they are wrong for saying it. But that doesn’t mean we should overreact! Whatever happened to patience and self control? We shouldn’t be so quick to react.
I have found in my own life that when someone says something to me that makes me emotional inside that it is better to wait. Don’t respond right away. Someone makes a negative comment about my sermon, texts me something unfriendly, gives a terse remark about my bible study or complains about the church, I know that I need to wait before answering back. Usually when I wait a day or two before responding I'm not as charged up as I was when I first heard it. The adrenaline has died down. My emotions have calmed down. So my answer back isn’t as emotional. It is not an overreaction. I think more about what was said. I reflect on their perspective of things. What I initially wanted to say, I don't think is necessary to say anymore. When I think more about it, I realize my initial thoughts could be wrong. What I thought the person meant by what they said may be completely off. Thus my answer to them is completely different from what I initially wanted to say to them. I don’t always wait though. And when I do respond immediately I most of the time end up regretting it.
James reminds us to “...be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). This is a good verse to remind us not to so quickly judge and overreact. We are so quick and final in our opinions nowadays. We overreact, freak out and thus overcorrect. Don’t be drawn into the world's ways. Take your time. Don’t give into having to immediately say something. Instead, be quick to listen.
“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32)
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32)