Shifting in viral slang is short for reality shifting. The goal of shifting is to travel from one’s CR (current reality) to one’s DR (desired reality) through meditation, visualization, and other practices. Shifting involves separating one’s consciousness from the body and entering an “alternate” reality or an alternate universe. Popular desired realities include Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and various worlds based on Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and anime. Shifting is not compatible with biblical teaching and is not something that Christians should get into.
Shifting is popular among some teens and young adults, and there are large shifting communities on TikTok, Reddit, and other social media platforms. On TikTok, videos with the hashtag #shifting have over 6.2 billion views (www.tiktok.com/tag/shifting, accessed 7/29/21). Various sites offer advice on methods to facilitate your shift, how to “script” your visit to your desired reality in advance, and how to return to your current reality.
Shifting is an inherently metaphysical, spiritual practice, as it deals with being, identity, and space-time. Shifters are essentially seeking an out-of-body experience. It should be avoided by Christians for the same reasons we avoid astral projection and transcendental meditation. Similar to other “new age” practices, shifting uses mantras, meditation, and certain body positions to enter an altered state of consciousness, which shifters assume to be a parallel universe or another dimension. Based on their TikTok videos, some shifters have begun to question reality in general, asking questions such as “What if what we call ‘reality’ is only someone else’s ‘shift’?” and “What if I only exist in someone else’s mind?”
Contributing to the popularity of shifting is people’s frustration with their current lives, and recent political issues and the spread of COVID-19 have only made them feel more frustrated and desperate. People are looking for an escape to find a “better” place with fewer of the things they find frustrating and more of the things they enjoy. They see shifting as a way to escape this world and spend time in another world of their own making where they can have what they want.
The problem is that escapism is not the answer, and shifting doesn’t work—not spiritually, not scientifically, not in any way. What, if anything, shifters experience is not an alternate reality or another place in the multiverse; instead, they are creating a fiction inside their own minds. They are courting chaos and confusion. And they are making themselves susceptible to spiritual forces they know nothing of.
Christians recognize that we live in a fallen world, so we understand why people would seek to exchange their existence for something better. But rejecting one’s reality comes at a cost. Truth is that which conforms to reality, so to discard reality is to discard truth. The Bible clearly espouses a belief in reality vs. fiction (Psalm 119:163) and insists that we can know the difference (Proverbs 13:5; Ephesians 4:25). Some things are (they are true or real), and some things are not (they are false or not real). The shifter’s grasping for a “desired reality” blinds him or her to certain truths that must not be ignored: the reality of sin, for example, and heaven and hell and Christ’s redemption.
Shifting offers a false hope in a false existence based on a false experience. Believers in Christ are grounded in the reality of God’s love and Christ’s salvation. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19). In sharing the gospel, we help others find that same hope. The message to shifters is that they do not need escape—they need forgiveness of sins and a relationship with Jesus Christ. They do not need to self-create a better world in their minds; they need to trust that Jesus will create a better world someday (Revelation 21:1).