Social Media Detox

I “left” Facebook several months ago. I still have a page and the GPYB support group, but I rarely post.  When I access FB, I click on the FB Support group immediately when I go on and that’s about it. I don’t post much and I don’t read most other people’s posts.  I think it’s insane the amount of time people spend on there. I think it should be called NoLifeBook.

I know I’ve harped on this before but I have seen social media turn my clients into knots. They can’t seem to use it without witnessing something about the ex or a friend of the ex or a relative of the ex. I’ve seen the havoc it plays with those trying to get over a relationship.

I didn’t do social media detox for that reason at all. No. For me, I want to have my head where my feet are…not thinking about how to frame the social media for everyone else. My life is my life. I want to live it and savor it and not be rushing it to share it with many people I don’t even know that well. Many of my FB friends I’ve never met in person. Why should I care if they like a photo I post? Why should I care about what they think of anything?

In the GPYB workbook, the first chapter is about Observation and the power of observation.  Before you get into another relationship, you have to be able to pick up subtle clues from people…from PEOPLE, not from people on your phone.  I’ve said over and over again that the FB “happy” photos are unreal.  They are not the lives that everyone else (but you) are living. It’s just a slice of what they WANT you to see.  They’re not SHOWING you the stressful times, the unhappy times, the doubting times….they’re making up a life they don’t actually have.

If you are STRONG on observation, you will be able to detect this from people when you see them – really see them – in person.  Provided, of course, that everyone is not on their phones when they “see” each other.  I’ve seen entire families go out to eat and everyone is on their phone and barely talking – WHAT IS WITH THAT?  TALK TO YOUR FAMILY.  Turn off the phone, zombies!  Turn OFF the phones.

I got tired of Facebook. I don’t care if it’s raining where you live or that you’re going to get cousin Artie from the airport. I really don’t. I don’t want to be concerned with the minutia of my life, let alone yours. I don’t think that anything you post on Instagram will change my life let alone yours. I don’t Snapchat because I don’t snap anything except a really great photograph of something memorial that means something to ME. If it means something to you, great. Snap it. I tweet my posts now and again because it’s the thing that publishers like you to do.

I find that every single morning I stand on the banks of an amazing river brimming with wildlife and boats and ships and all kinds of everything. And every person, except me, is looking down at a little screen. There’s a RIVER people….look the hell up from that stupid screen.  How in the world is everyone okay with a little screen being the most important thing in their life?

Even if you care about the screen, what about your posture?  I have advanced osteoporosis but do you know why I’m not all hunched over?  Because I went to Catholic school where “STAND UP STRAIGHT!” was a direct command for 10 years.  I can’t imagine what all these people are going to look like in 20, 30, 40 years.  A bunch of hunchbacks who can’t stand up straight.  Because they’ve forgotten how.  And the thumb damage is amazing to me.  Again, the joint issues I have are very real but the fact that I didn’t spend years overworking my thumbs is an asset.

I have written many times that I am not a Luddite or a technophobe. I had email long before anyone else because I was fortunate enough to work for almost 10 years for a very large computer maker. I built my own computer once upon a time and can usually diagnose and repair them. But I also over-used email when I broke up with someone. We worked for the same computer company. I tended to date engineers (I actually lost count of how many I dated but 1 I was with for almost 5 years). We communicated almost exclusively via email and none of my friends even understood how it worked. It was years before AOL came into existence.

But the social media thing has made nuts of us all, and pretty disrespectful nuts at that. The other day a kid of about 18/19 delivered my food. He never looked up from his phone to even look me in the eye. He handed me the food without ONCE looking at me. I deducted TWO full dollars from his tip. He only got a tip at all because he has delivered before and HAS looked me in the eye. I don’t know if he will ever figure out that his tip was lower due to the not looking thing. I’m sure he won’t.

I was checking out of an over-priced store in Grand Central just the other day and paying way too much for a croissant and the clerk was talking to another clerk, looking at his phone and counting out money…barely paying attention to me.  It was all I could do to not buy it.  If I’m paying $5.00 for a croissant, you damn well better be paying attention to me.  Another day with less patience, I would have gone buh bye bozo.

And it works the other way too.  The delivery guy was young and the clerk was young.  But I see people much older than those two do this in the store. Hand the cashier money without ever looking at them–looking instead at their phone. The cashiers have a hard job. Customer service is their game. I complain endlessly that customer service is a thing of the past but decent customers who acknowledge that you are a human being, doing a job FOR THEM, might be too. Look at the person who is waiting on you. Give them the decency and respect they deserve. If they’re a jerk to you that doesn’t mean you have to stare at your phone.  I don’t stare at my phone when I’m checking out.  First of all, I want to be sure I’m not paying $19.90 for something that cost $1.99 and I want to be polite to the clerk even if the clerk is not being polite to me.  My side of the street needs to be clean in all exchanges.  Simple. End of story.

And….so why we are here:  I find that social media makes so many people have a harder time with breakups. It’s SO EASY to reach out and touch someone. The ex touches you or you touch them. It’s not a matter of driving to someone’s house and leaving a note on their car. Not that that wasn’t done back in the day. I did it. Friends did it. We all did it. But now it’s just so easy to be THERE when THERE is the last place you should be.

I read Facebook today and admit to a few chuckles and liked seeing updates from certain people. Someone who had a baby last year posted their Christmas card photo and the baby was so BIG! And the big brother had changed from a weirdly gangly infant into an adorable toddler. So that was nice to see. But overall, I wondered why so many spend so much time on there. Do you think we all honestly care? Do you have any unshared thoughts at all in that head of yours? Do you?

I also have heard “magic of Facebook” stories where long-lost family is found and even unsolved murders, where an innocent person was jailed for it, have been solved.  So yes, there is a magic of Facebook but 99 percent of the people wasting inordinate amounts of time on there is NOT happening…and how to keep up with all the social media…it REQUIRES looking down at a little screen all damn day and THAT I refuse to do.  Don’t care.  Don’t care. Don’t care.

I recommend that people unplug once a day for at least an hour in the morning and an hour at night.  Which is what I do. I unplug in the morning and REFUSE to look at my phone waiting for the train.  For most of the train ride, which passes gorgeous Hudson River scenery, I look out the window. I get centered.  I have a few meditation and relaxation audios on my phone.  I might plug into that and slap the headphones on…but I do not do more than that.

I also suggest that people unplug for hours on the weekend. Go to the mall and leave your phone in the car. Does the thought of that make you anxious? All the more reason you should do it. Do you hand an antsy child a phone to play with when you’re out and about? How about talking to the child or trying to be creative and not letting the phone be the babysitter. I was in a store a few months ago where this 4 year old was screaming bloody murder for his mother’s phone. She eventually gave it to him. Had he been mine, we would have left the store. Too many bad lessons to name in that one transaction.

We are all responsible for our lives and for the way we live them. If we are constantly at the beck and call of others…if we are constantly having to interact on social media, something is wrong.  People know I may or may not answer a text right away. I tell them that a ringing/pinging phone is a request not a demand.  And I mean it.

It’s important on so many levels to make peace with the peace…to learn how to say no to social media or even picking up your phone. I am DEDICATED to the idea and I find it difficult sometimes. You have to learn to just BE…to just stand and BE to just SIT and BE…to watch the world go by without being mesmerized by a 2×5 screen. We’re not monkeys. We’re not hamsters on a wheel…but when I watch people get to the platform of the train and pull out the phone without even blinking at the ducks flying overhead, I think, “Hamster on the wheel…” It’s going nowhere. They’re going nowhere.

I want to go somewhere.  You should too.

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