5 Dangers of Social Media Quicksand

You’ve heard of quicksand, right? It looks the same as other sand, but once you step on it you are drawn into the earth…sucked down toward the core. The more you wiggle, the deeper you sink–as it takes you down with its miry grasp.

Yes, this can also happen with social media. It can capture you quicker than you might think. Personally, I enjoy social media and I like to think I use it well. That is, when I’m not stuck in the quicksand. And to be honest, I’ve been there too many times.

So, how do we know when we’re sinking? What types of quicksand can trap us?


1. Compassion Quicksand:

Let’s face it. We are human and can only hold a certain number of troubling situations in our hearts before we overload. When I overload I can experience “prayer freeze”. The needs seem so overwhelming at times I don’t know where to begin.

I have too often been overly burdened by following heart wrenching stories on social media about people I don’t know. When my emotions become so involved with those outside of my sphere of influence–I can think I’m exercising compassion, but if I end up without the time and emotional bandwidth to attend to and focus on the actual needs of those right around me—those  I can touch with words of encouragement, visits, prayers, meals, etc.–then I’ve let social media sadness become a hindrance to true compassion.

It’s easy to step into this quicksand with the best of intentions, but before you get emotionally involved, think it through. Pray and give it to God or contribute and give it to God…or both—but don’t carry it to the point you use up your emotional energy on those you can’t touch more personally. Thankfully God is big enough to hear it all, and loving enough to care deeply.

2. “Always Available” Quicksand:

There is something “addictive” about social media.  I’ve had to deliberately decide to avoid the cyber-world until after I spend time with my God in the spiritual world. Only then can I choose the most needed priorities for my day and avoid getting dragged into social media’s never-ending chase for chatter.  Loud chatter—the little “ding” when a message comes, or when a status updates, or a new photo is posted. The ding screams for me to check my phone or computer right now.  After all, what if it’s a message from a loved one who is stuck on a desert road without water? Or in a stand-off with aliens? They’ll need me! NOW.

When I’m always available for social media it seeks to own me and continually screams for my attention. In fact, it’s screaming now. (I will not look, I will not look.)

As I write this sentence I’m distracted by a stack of receipts on the desk to  my left. They need to be scanned and recorded in a spreadsheet made for business expenses. Oh, the details of life. Unfortunately, this stack has been there for several days (ahem…weeks), for I chose instead to see what was happening “out there”…the cute pictures, the latest on Deflategate, what a friend in another country had for dinner, and other ‘vital’ issues. (OK, I just did it…spreadsheet done!)

Social media is happy take over and to be any “excuse” for keeping us from tasks at hand. It’s hard to set boundaries…but beware if you don’t. The quicksand will take you down faster than you can blink and keep you there longer than you can stay awake.

3. Guilt Quicksand:

I may be a little crazy, but I can often feel guilty for failing to send a birthday or anniversary wish to someone in my friends or contacts–seems it’s become a sort of moral obligation to me. Birthday greetings are quite nice, and one of the super encouraging “treats” on social media. And, I appreciate the reminders to wish someone a happy day. Really I do.Yet, if I don’t check in for a few days and find I have missed numerous birthdays I feel badly, like I did something wrong.

It’s nice to remember, but honestly at times I just need to get over myself. While the wishes are encouraging and a good thing, my greeting won’t make or break someone’s day. And for family and close friends, a call or card is even nicer.  A remembrance is a nice gesture, but I step in quicksand when I feel badly when I don’t send 15 greetings a day. Anyone else relate?

4. Approval Quicksand:

When we start feeling like our value is measured by “likes” or what others think of whatever we might be doing or saying we’re going down in the muck faster than we can shinny down a greased flagpole. It’s nice to know that someone likes what we’re doing, or writing. I’m not going to lie. It’s encouraging. However, it can matter too much. Do we check for what others think and like more than we read, think, and pray about what God thinks and likes? Just sayin’. It’s good to step back every so often and check our shoes. Perhaps they have a bit to much quicksand covering them, and we fail to realize we are already there…slowly sinking..

5. Motion Picture Director Quicksand.

Certainly, it’s wonderful to capture memorable moments and share them with friends and loved ones. That’s the biggest reason I use and enjoy social media, so please don’t stop. However… We can have such an intense focus on memories as “seen from behind the lens” that we miss out on genuine interactions, laughs, tears, surprises, hugs, etc. We are too busy “directing” for our posts. While you can’t share memories in quite the same way without pictures, it’s also quite nice, at times, to simply hold those precious moments in your heart. We can then have real face to face conversations that paint pictures of what we experienced and how we felt as we experienced it. Often, those deep conversations can be even more exhilarating and meaningful than a photo. So, keep those pictures coming–but take a break from the camera often enough to feel and think and remember and share (verbally). Otherwise, your camera may get ruined because you are sinking in the motion picture director quicksand.

If you find you’re stuck in any quicksand…slowly and deliberately you can get out. And we may need to grab each other’s hands.

I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders. My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.

Psalm 119:10-16; 27-32 

When the Chicken Hits the Fan

So, lately I’ve written about an electric fan, and various birds.  That combination reminded me of a conversation that leads to today’s post.

There is an odd commercial I have noted of late.  It is an advertisement for directTV, and follows an unlikely and absurd domino of events in a person’s life that could have been “avoided” if they had only purchased directTV.  The commercial reminds me of a conversation I had with someone several years ago.

I noticed this “someone” (I’ll refer to as “person”) had a black eye.  I inquired as to the cause of this malady.  The conversation that ensued went something like this:

Me:  How did you get the black eye?

Person:  Because of the chicken

Me: Because of the chicken?

Person: Yes, I had a friend over and they brought their pet chicken.

Me:  A pet chicken?  So what does that have to do with your black eye?

Person:  I didn’t appreciate him bringing a chicken into my apartment so I asked him to leave and he didn’t.

Me:  And?

Person: So I took the chicken and threw it in the air…but it hit the fan.

Me:  What??!!  Was it ok?

Person:  Lost some feathers, but it was ok…but the guy was mad that his chicken hit the fan.

Me:  And so he punched you?

Person:  Yes, he punched me.  He’s not coming back.

So, I would have never guessed the progression of such a seemingly illogical chain of events.

But, I’m on a bird theme of late…so could not resist sharing this remembrance.

However, while I laugh at this chain of events, I can sometimes be just as disjointed in my chain of thoughts and prayers.

I understand why the scriptures depict prayer as hard work.  Often, I have to wrestle in prayer to keep my concentration.

Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.  Col. 4:12

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.  1 Peter 4:7

I know Satan does not want me to pray as these scriptures teach, as prayer unleashes the power of God.

Sometimes I can begin to pray as I praise and thank God and pray for many situations and people…and then the “chicken hits the fan” so to speak.  I begin with full concentration and then as I pray for my friends and the woman I met at the grocery store who wants to study the Bible….I remember what I need to purchase at the grocery store, which reminds me of the meal I need to schedule next week.  Then I pull it back in focus and pray for people and places in mission work, which reminds me that I need to book our flights for our trip next month, and I hope they have the wandering seat problem fixed by then, and oh yeah, I need to make sure the dogs are taken care of …..

Am I alone in attention deficit prayer temptations and challenges?  I doubt it, otherwise we wouldn’t have the need for the scriptures above and below.

Col. 4:2

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Prayer is not easy, but oh so necessary.  It is also an incredible privilege.  Given my propensity to do several things at once (to help concentration, really) I like to walk and pray… or to pray out loud and with someone. I know that prayer truly makes a difference.  I desperately need to speak with my Father and amazingly, he wants to hear from me.