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 a Round Tuit

There are many arenas where I can get stuck in the “almost going for it” stance.  The longer I take to leave the starting block, the more overwhelmed I can feel to start or “restart” something I actually really want to do. Then, anticipatory fatigue (thanks Fred Faller, for coining this fitting phrase) sets in.

I got out of my writing habit.  Most days I’ve actually had something on my heart I’ve wanted to write down, I just haven’t taken the time to do it or gotten around to it.  I want to write, I believe it’s a good thing…but somewhere amidst the crazy busyness of this summer, the “actual doing it” has not happened.

At times this pause can happen to me in far more important areas of life – like practicing well thought out and planned Bible study, or praying the kind of prayers that take the needed time and concentration to include the thanksgiving, praise, thoughts, desperation, dreams and needs for others that I really desire to include and to talk with God about. This “stuck” posture can also include following up with needed conversations and continuing to reach out to others around me. There is a war that goes on inside and it’s nothing new.

21  So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23  but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25  Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Romans 7:21-25 (NIV)

I do realize that failure to write is not sinful, however, knowing the good I need to do and not doing it…is.  17  Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
James 4:17 (NIV)

So tonight I’m off the “writing” starting blocks. I finally have my “round tuit,” so there’s no excuse.IMG_4560   It’s really no big deal, but more representative of things that are big deals….like re-starting some more in depth study and making some needed phone calls.  If I don’t now, then when will I?

What do you know that you need to do and actually want to do…but just need to start, or re-start the actual doing it part?  I’d love for you to join me. There is more energy in running or in flying together…just ask the geese.  There is really no better day to start than today.

And once I start….momentum kicks in and I certainly feel God’s Spirit more alive in my life with the energy he promises to inspire within me (Col 1:29)


Conquering the Black Jeans

I have a job to complete.  I’m sitting at my kitchen counter with my “Hello Kitty” sewing machine… hemming some black jeans.   (Yes, I use a “Hello Kitty” sewing machine.  It is simple enough for me to use, and I figured that I could teach my grandkids to sew with it.)   I purchased these jeans for my husband about 3 years ago because they were his size…sort of.  I found them on sale for one dollar.  Yes, …one dollar.  The size was not marked,  but they looked about right for him.  They fit him well, except for the length.  I think that is why these jeans were on sale.  They would have fit well if he were about 8½ feet tall.  He is tall, but not that tall.  Well, I am happy to report that I just completed the job.

For some reason, I have procrastinated hemming these jeans for those 3 years.  I’m ashamed to say that they have been folded in the corner of our room for that entire time.  It actually took me three minutes to get the sewing machine set up with the needed black thread.  It took about another five minutes to hem both pants legs and another minute to put the machine back in the closet.  That’s it. Three years to actually make the decision to act …which took nine minutes to complete.

This new year, I wanted to begin by conquering this silly, crazy thing that had been hanging over my head  for much too long.  It’s eleven o’clock in the evening and I was not going to let another day pass without facing this.  The other thing I put off for way too long was getting rid of a cobweb in the corner of my shower.  It required my getting a footstool and wiping the corner of the shower stall.  Not a big deal, but every day for months  I would look up at that corner and say to myself, “I really should do something about this.”  Well, I’m happy to say the cobweb is gone.   I am quite sure I have spent much more time thinking about “getting around to it” than it actually took to do it.  I had to come to a point where I decided it was time to act on my good intentions saying….If I don’t do it today, then when will I…really?

While these two things are not really important in the big scheme of things they had gotten the best of me.  I just didn’t want to do them….yet.  However, I was always planning to “get around to it”.

Putting off until tomorrow can be a dangerous habit, especially if it effects life issues that are of utmost importance.  Perhaps you have been thinking of pursuing or strengthening your relationship with God….or changing something that keeps you from following him wholeheartedly.  Or maybe it’s just a small task like I mention above.  Sometimes, like Felix in the scripture below…we put something off because of fear of change.

Acts 24:24-25

    Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. [25] As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”

Other times, it is easy to just get complacent thinking that nothing is really that urgent.  The scriptures soberly speak to this as well.

Luke 12:18-21

    “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. [19] And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘

    [20] “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

At any rate, I feel so much better after hemming those “dollar jeans” and wiping away the cobwebs.  What are you procrastinating?  Go for it today.  It could make the difference for the day, the year, or even eternity.