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 

Getting Past the ABC’s – Annoyance, Bedlam and Chaos

I’ve renamed the dogs.  Let me introduce them.  Annoyance is on the left.   Bedlam is front and center and Chaos is on the right.   They had tested me throughout the day yesterday, and it culminated this morning – about 4am.  The older dog (Blackie, aka “Jackie”) usually sleeps on the floor at the foot of our bed.  I suppose he wasn’t feeling well, since I was awakened to the sounds of him throwing up on my pillow – right next to my head.  That was quite disgusting.  It was annoying enough to be awakened – not to mention the need that followed to get out of bed to change the pillowcase.  Thus his new nickname, Annoyance

We also have our puppy, Denver, who is …well – a puppy.  I named him Bedlam. Then there is Brady.  This week we are dog-sitting Brady, our son’s dog, while our son and his family are out of town.  He is a loveable dog, who has high energy and also really loves the water.  Yesterday I had decided to let the dogs out before I needed to leave for an appointment.  That’s when Bedlam and Chaos took over.  Brady (Chaos) headed to the creek beside our house to take a little dip, and Denver (Bedlam) went the other direction toward a swamp.  Denver thought it would be fun, instead of coming to my call, to grab hold of a large stick and run the other way toward the field where some gentlemen were playing Ultimate Frisbee during their lunch hour.  Finally, both dogs returned – covered in dark mud.  I was not amused.  Thirty minutes later, after giving the puppy a bath and watching my husband hose down Brady,  I rushed with breakneck speed and high anxiety to get to my appointment.

Annoyance, bedlam and chaos are not planned.  They just happen, usually at the most inopportune times.  They may be, as mine were, covered with fur.  Or, they may come in the form of a flat tire, a flooded basement,  a baby’s poopy diaper, a child’s tantrum, a lost shoe,  a snowstorm, or even just a “bad hair day”.  But come they will.  Bedlam breaks loose, chaos erupts and annoyances happen in what seems the mere blink of an eye.  They distract us from our purpose and plans, and tempt us with frustration, anger and anxiety.

I’ve learned that I can’t change them, or in most cases avoid them – so I must decide how to respond to them.  I’m constantly amazed and inspired by how Jesus dealt with annoyances, bedlam and chaos.  He remained calm and purposeful, even amidst it all. Look at one day in the life of Jesus.  Mark 1:21-38

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. [22] The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. [23] Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, [24] “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”

[25] “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” [26] The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

[27] The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching–and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” [28] News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

[29] As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. [30] Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. [31] So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

[32] That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. [33] The whole town gathered at the door, [34] and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

[35] Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. [36] Simon and his companions went to look for him, [37] and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

[38] Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

In this one day in the life of Jesus his sermon was interrupted by a crazy man, his friend’s mother in law (who was the hostess of the house where he was visiting) was very ill (so he healed her); and many sick and demon possessed clamored to him to be healed. He was offered no privacy.  I stand amazed and inspired.

Several things stand out to me as Jesus met with bedlam, chaos and annoyances.   He got away to pray; he was always filled with compassion amidst the chaos, bedlam and annoyances;  his heart was always to give;  and he did not let himself get distracted from his purpose of telling people how to have a relationship with God.  Because of his compassion and focus, I now have the hope of heaven.

May I today, get past the ABC’s of annoyance, bedlam and chaos by learning from Jesus – and take time to pray; view others through eyes of compassion;  decide to be a giver, and show people Jesus – enabling them to have a relationship with God and one day be in heaven.