Things I Re-Learned While Nervously Watching the Houston Flood Unfold #Harvey

For the past few days, I’ve been sitting, feeling helpless and stressed as I read post after post of people begging for their lives and the rescue of their stranded family members. I know it’s probably not healthy to constantly watch these types of tweets, but I also feel it’s emotionally unhealthy to just look away and be apathetic.


So I have been riding my knees from afar, praying, knowing that is really all I can do at the moment. I’ve been tweeting emergency information to those who need it, hoping that one of the numbers will work for them. I’ve donated to a trusted cause.


Thankfully, the vast majority of people who were in trouble have been rescued according to the most recent reports. And I’ve been seeing some beautiful stories come out of this ugly situation that have definitely inspired me.


A few key truths have been revealed in the past few days about people (particularly Americans) and about life in general. These are truths that I already knew to be true, but it’s a bit of a relief to see them confirmed once again. This country has been in a state of emotional distress for about a year, making many of us question what is true and what is “fake.”


Here is what I re-learned from watching the Houston flood drama unfold.


There Are Good People Out There–LOTS of Them
It can be tempting to focus on all the stories about people who are negative, mean, and apathetic — especially thanks to 24/7 social media. But if you shift your focus, you’ll see that there are many, many, many really awesome, thoughtful, and caring people in the world. They just don’t get as much attention on a daily basis. See this story, this story and this photo (volunteers lined up) if you need to be reminded that there are plenty of very good human beings still out there.


We Have to Help Ourselves and Each Other in Trying Times — We Need Each Other
When situations like the Houston flood occur, citizens can’t always expect a gov agency or emergency phone number to provide safety or rescue immediately. We have to be prepared to help each other and ourselves in stressful times.


When you’re in a position to help someone in distress, your responsibility as a good human is to do what you can to help. It might be loading your boat into the back of your pickup and driving miles to save a family. It might mean donating supplies to a shelter to make sure that people are clean and eating. It might mean putting your favorite pastime on pause and spending the day spreading necessary information. It might mean simply getting on your knees and praying in earnest. We have to help each other.


One woman on Twitter took the time out of her day to make calls to emergency lines on behalf of distressed people on social media to ensure that they were on rescue lists. It was a small thing that made a big difference.


Preparedness is the main way we can help ourselves. No one should be fighting over bottled water the day before a major natural event. Every home should have an emergency preparedness kit, canned foods, and loads of water stashed away. People often laugh at doomsday “preppers” — those people who stock their basements and emergency shelters with canned goods and water. But to a certain degree they have the right idea in mind. With climate change and so many other threats worldwide, now more than ever we have to be prepared for emergencies.


I also think it might be a good idea to make small, inexpensive boats requirements for every household or rental property that is located in a potentially vulnerable coastal area. Or at least a fleet of boats stocked by towns/cities. I learned that you can buy a standard boat for under $200, which I think is reasonable. Countless people were saved because of the bravery and dedication of private citizens who owned their own boats.


Follow Your Intuition, Always
Days before the flooding happened in Houston, some people from the area were posting memes and light-hearted jokes about Harvey. They were unfortunately doing this instead of preparing and making serious decisions about what to do to protect themselves and their families. Sometimes the fun of social media has to be put aside to handle serious matters. Also, I believe that regardless of what may be broadcast on the news, you have to follow your intuition in tough situations like this. Trust your intuition, always.


Color, Religion, Etc. Doesn’t Matter When You Need Urgent Help

I believe it has only been a few weeks since a group of white nationalists marched on Charlottesville VA, threatening minority groups with violence. It lead to the death of an innocent woman who was bravely countering the hate.


One important truth that the Houston floods has revealed is that color doesn’t matter when it comes to saving someone or getting saved. People of all races, religions, and backgrounds were riding in those boats together, just thankful to be with each other and safe.


America Can Still Be Great Again, But Again It’s Up to Us
Working together, loving one another, planning, and implementing smart ideas — these are the things that have kept the USA strong and revered by other nations for so long. We have to get back to all of that and eliminate the negative distractions that are causing division. We have to come together and put differences aside for the greater good.


We also have to stand up and speak up about what’s wrong and how to make it right. This doesn’t have to be done from a huge, popular media platform — a conversation can start right at your kitchen table.


Love Lynn
Lynn is the author of You Matter and other empowering audiobooks for women.

Too Much Social Media: Tips for Staying Sane and Productive

With each day, I see more evidence that social media has become a major distraction and that it may be negatively effecting the quality of our lives. Anxiety, confusion, depression, and a general lack of focus are plaguing many social media users. Television used to be the major distraction, but now Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have become a daily obsession for many people.

iphonebackI am guilty of being too easily distracted by social media apps. Almost every day the first thing I grab is my cell phone. The second thing I usually do is open Twitter and check the trending topics. So basically, the first thing I see when I awaken to a brand new day is the chaos and confusion that’s going on in the world at the moment.

Sometimes there’s a horrific story of something that happened the night before. Other times the news stories are completely focused on the latest atrocity committed by the person currently occupying the oval office. The rest of it is mostly chitter-chatter and topics that can make you feel like you’re losing a few IQ points with each scroll.

In my book You Matter I mentioned the need to take social media breaks. I think there is great value in “unplugging” and taking regular breaks from the chaos of social media. Here are a few tips for how to better manage your social media usage.

Understand that Too Much Information Isn’t Useful

Imagine going to college for four years and trying to get 20 different degrees at once. There’s no way that you will be able to retain enough information from all 20 of those subjects to become enlightened on any of them. That’s basically what happens when you allow yourself to be overwhelmed with too much information on social media apps. Choose one or two points of focus and become educated/enlightened/an expert on those subjects.

Choose an App, Just One App

There are so many social media apps available now, including dating apps, that it can be very overwhelming keeping up with them all. Choose one social media account to focus on and stick with that. Here are a few insights about the most common apps from my personal experience:

· Facebook is for people who like to connect with the people they already know.

· Twitter is for people who are more cerebral and like to express their quiet thoughts.

· Instagram is for exhibitionists (think “show and tell”) who want to be noticed.

· Snapchat seems to be more appealing to young teens who are looking for a distraction.

Create Lists and Segmented Timelines

As mentioned earlier, social media is chaotic because you’re bombarded with so many different topics at once. One minute you’re reading a story about a loving llama and the next thing you know you’re presented with a news story about a violent attack abroad. It’s no wonder so many people struggle with anxiety.

Create lists or segments of people who will provide you with the topics that you want to read on your timeline. Search for specific hashtags of interest (#GirlTalk or #PoliticsChat) instead of looking at general trending topics. I’m not that familiar with social media sites outside of Twitter, but I know they have a way of limiting what shows up on your timeline.

Set a Timer

If hours go by and you’re still on Facebook or Instagram scrolling through pictures, you have to start setting some limits for yourself. It’s unlikely that you’re being as productive as possible in your day if you spend hours looking at posts by other people. So set a 10 or 15-minute timer on your phone right before you open your favorite social media app. That is enough time to get a quick update about what’s going on in the world so that you can then get back to your world.

Make Your Password Impossible to Remember

Taking extended social media breaks are necessary, but it can be easier said than done. If you find yourself spending too much time on a particular app, fix it so that it’s easier to resist temptation. Create a long and complicated password that you’ll never remember. Reset the password on your social media account and then log off. Now, when you feel tempted to pop into Twitter to see what’s trending you’ll be forced to go through the whole password reset process again.

Getting off of social media and getting back to real life may not be that easy since we’ve largely become addicted to our cellphones over the past decade. But we at least have to start having a conversation about this. Recognize how social media addiction may be affecting your life. Take steps to balance out your day and better manage the information that you’re consuming.


Lynn Gilliard is the author of a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU. Her latest book You Matter encourages women to know and understand their worth.