We are FREAKING OUT right now! My wife asked me this morning if this was really threat-level midnight, not because she is freaking out but because the governor of Oregon and Washington are taking drastic measures. Last week I suggested we get some extra food. Not because I’m worried about the virus, but because of the way people are reacting to it. Most stores are sold out of hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies. People are going to Costco to stock up on Toilet Paper and Bottled water. Why?

Is it a serious situation? Absolutely. Especially for the vulnerable. There are those who need to take significant precautions. But, as the CDC has suggested, how we deal with it is to 1.) Wash your hands (and stop touching your face) 2.) Cover your cough and 3.) Stay home if you’re sick.

That’s good, sound advice. Simple. It’s something we can all do. I’ve been washing my hands a lot more. Probably just a good environmental cue to help me be more cognizant of doing that.

But why the freakout? Why are we losing our ever-loving minds right now? I think the answer is simple. Our Digital Environment. What do we do about the freakout? Well, I’m actually going to share 3 simple steps to help deal with the panic being caused by the pandemic.

Every single piece of technology I have has been lit up in one way or another with warnings, memes, statistics and panic about the Coronavirus.

This should serve as a wakeup call for all of us. The power of our digital environment is massive. I’ve been saying it for years. We need to be much more conscientious about mindlessly consuming 11 hours of media content per day. I don’t think we need any more evidence to prove that we are being manipulated by media outlets. Nor do we need any more evidence to see the level of influence they have over our thinking and our living. Not only should we reduce our intake of CVTV (Coronavirus Television), we should reduce our intake of echo-chamber rhetoric about politics and one-sided, dehumanizing speech about those who are different than us. The division in our country has been produced by the same sources that are causing mass histeria.

What else does this tell us? We’re too addicted to technology. We need to go outside and get some sunshine and fresh air. The coronavirus is not going to bring about the end of civilization. It just isn’t. Again, yes it’s dangerous. Yes it’s bad. But this isn’t a zombie apocalypse. On the flipside, we are are the one capable of bringing an end to life as we know it if we don’t change our response. In other words, the problem isn’t the virus, the problem is us.

So, the CDC gave 3 steps to deal with the virus, how do we deal with the panic being created by the virus. Here are my 3 simple steps.

1.) Turn of the CVTV

We just need to turn off the news. Turn off the local news, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Yahoo, Google and so on. Every single one of these sources are broadcasting this information in overdrive right now. The only way to get away from it is to get out of the flow of information. You may not shut off the Fire Hydrant, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep standing right in front of it. You may need to stop checking your email so much too.

The currency of the media is fear. And right now they’ve doubled down on fear to get us to tune in to their programming. They’re capitalizing on the crisis and making megabucks on advertising. Look, this is your life. Don’t let some greedy, multi-billion dollar organization mess with your life just so they can get richer. Turn off the CVTV!

2.) Refuse to spread the fear through incessant conversations. Spread Hope!

Chances are, even if you never hear another story or read another article about CVTV, you still won’t be able to get away from it. I tried that hard last week. I didn’t take in much information, but every conversation I had with people somehow ended up there. I would just respond with “Wash you hands, cover your cough, stay home if you’re sick.” I said that to every concern and questions.

But, that’s not going to be enough anymore. We’re going to be proactive in passing out hope to one another. We’re going to have to intentionally talk about good things and hopeful things. Get some new pictures of your family or grandkids to share. Talk about your favorite things. Talk about Easter and what your church is planning to do to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. Learn a new optimistic quote, a funny joke, bible verse, read a good book with a good moral and a good ending and talk about that. Talk about your favorite restaurant, favorite coffee place or your favorite second hand store.

“But, how do I change the topic?” Find something good about the situation, then say, speaking of good things… For instance, when someone is talking about CV, say, “yeah, but look how quickly they’re getting things under control. And I appreciate how serious they’re taking the concern. Isn’t that a good thing? Speaking of good things, you’ll never believe this picture I just got of my grandkids with their adorable new puppy.

3.) Look for opportunities to be loving and kind.

When bad things like this happen, we can either retreat into our own world and wait for the storm to pass, or we can look for chances to be loving and kind. There may be some vulnerable people in your neighborhood who can’t go out. Offer to buy them some groceries, and deliver them wearing gloves. (Don’t do this if you’re sick!)

Do some random acts of kindness. Just for anyone. Buy the person’s drink behind you in the coffee line. Send an encouraging note to the first 3 people that come to mind. Get some sidewalk chalk and draw pictures of unicorns and rainbows in front of a hospital. Just go do some good and nice things anywhere.

My point is simple, we don’t need to be freaking out at this level. The reason we are is because we’re taking in too much digital content. Our environment has a massive amount of influence over our lives, and that has never been more evident than now. We need to get out from under its influence. Turn off the CVTV!