Monday, August 10, 2015

Oh look! A squirrel!—Living in the Age of Distraction

By Niki Turner

   The advent of streaming news and social media has bombarded us with massive amounts of information, and lots of opportunities for distraction.

   Writers are virtuosos of distraction. I spent 20 minutes one afternoon this week doing battle with a legion of houseflies instead of working on my current manuscript. 

   Magicians (and thieves) understand the art of distraction. They call it sleight of hand, prestidigitation, or legerdemain. Pickpockets combine sleight of hand techniques and another amazingly effective distraction tool—compassion—to steal from their marks.

   If you can focus someone’s attention on that which is odd, strange, cute, weird, distressing, traumatic, etc., they’ll be distracted, and they'll become an easy target. So while we’re gaping at dead lions and abused dogs, sobbing over questionably edited secret videos, being shocked by the latest Jenner/Kardashian news or what Mr. Trump tweeted, or giggling over cute kitten antics, we’re being distracted. But to what end? 

   Sheep are herded past our house a couple times a year. The sheepdogs, usually border collies or Australian Shepherd sheepdogs, use these same techniques as magicians and thieves to move the sheep. (Keep in mind that Jesus referred to US as sheep…)

   Sheep tend to wander. Into the ditch, into people’s yards, up the nearby hill… Without sheepdogs, sheep are wanderers. The dogs come along behind them to keep them moving toward their next pasture at a steady pace. How do the dogs do it? They nip at the sheep’s legs, or bark in their faces, or do something to get their attention and get them moving in the direction the dog wants them to go.

    Now, think of the dog as the modern media conglomerate (news, social media, even those annoying email chain letters). When the sheep start to slow down and nibble on the grass, or check out a nearby stream, or relax in a ditch, the “dog” releases something that “bites” to get the sheep moving. Their goal, to keep the sheep a little tired and hungry, and a little bit frantic, always running toward the next thing.

   The funny thing about sheep is that if one starts running, all the ones nearby will run, too. They might run in a completely different direction, but they’ll run in response to the same stimulus. Is this sounding at all like your Facebook and/or Twitter feed?

   So, what’s our response? First, we need to learn to look to the Shepherd (and stop looking at the dog), for our direction. We need to make sure our focus is on our Shepherd, on His thoughts and opinions, on His grace and His mercy, on the real scope of His purpose and power. Somehow I don’t think we’re seeing it on our computer and TV screens.

   Second, we need to stop jumping at every little thing that catches our eye. As we continue through the Age of Distraction (it’s like the Age of Aquarius, only the hippies are the normal ones…) things are only going to get more appalling, more dramatic, and more freakish. May we all have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, no matter how loud the other voices are around us. 

Niki Turner
Sadie's Gift (2014) - Available onAmazon and Nook and as part of the Christmas Traditions Collection. 
Santiago Sol (2015) - Releases in October, Pelican Book Ventures
The Skiing Suitor (2015) - Releases in September, Forget-Me-Not Romance

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Niki. As I read your post I thought of other things that have been happening while social media has been fixated on the things you mention. That you didn't mention the one that is heavy on my heart only speaks of the solemness of a situation that hurts to be discussed.

    This is a wonderful post on explaining the nature of sheep and why God calls Jesus the Shepherd and us his sheep. Thank you.


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