My December Social Media Diet: Week One

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The topic of this post is surprising even to me. And yes, I do realize the irony of what I am posting here.  I am prepared to be criticized and scoffed at. Ready to be called a hypocrite at any moment. Because in many ways I am.

About a month ago, my husband expressed his distaste for my Iphone use. I would check Facebook or Instagram casually as we watched TV, sometimes in the car when I was a passenger. In bed before going to sleep.  I mean, doesn’t everybody? I was defensive. Pointed out his laptop use, his addiction to podcasts, his love for amazon.

But deep down, I knew he was right.

When he sent me this video Monday morning, I had come to the realization that wherever there is defensiveness, there is truth. I was angry about the truth he presented to me about myself. I was mad that he thought the amount of likes on a blog post was measureable to my self-esteem. But I was mostly mad because I realized that I had become addicted to something that well, really, didn’t mean anything at all.

Scanning online garage sale sites for Christmas gifts, Pinteresting the upcoming holiday and looking for recipes were all things that I thought I needed to do right then, at the very second I had the opportunity to do them. These are things that Iphones were made for! Things that everyone does. Right?

But why does it make me feel icky that I am trying to justify my overuse of technology as “just a sign of the times?” Well, probably because I realized I have become one of these people. And I hated it.

I have chalked up my love for social media, blogging and snapping insta-pics  as “just the way I am.” A selfie taker from way back in ’93, no one would argue that I all of a sudden became obsessed with pictures and picture taking and filling those I love in about myself in 140 characters or less. I was the girl who sent a group email about my entire engagement story to everyone I knew. I was lucky to get pregnant just on the cusp of “My Baby Belly- Month by Month” being socially appropriate. I was someone who has always loved the written word and the captioned photo. Be they in an email, card, scrapbook, letter or on your Facebook wall.

But at age thirty-four, “it’s just they way I am” becomes kind of a lame excuse. It becomes sad that you are defending a life on social media against— a life not on social media (GASP!)—meaning the life you live in your own home, in your own living room, on your own couch with your husband. Undistracted, uninterrupted, life.

So on Monday, I deleted the apps of Facebook and Instagram off my phone (okay, so one HAS been reinstalled— I’m not COMPLETELY off the grid here people) and I decided to take a December Social Media Fast. Why? Because it’s the holidays and holidays are about family, not status messages. Because I wanted to show myself that I am more than just a status or a post or a cutely captioned and hashtagged photo. But also, I’ll admit it, because I had to prove my husband wrong.

And, almost immediately, I felt a click that can only be described as relief. No longer was I looking in envy at everyone’s perfectly placed and lit Christmas trees thinking, “Oh my goodness, I need to get our tree up TODAY!” and no longer was I tapping my way through dozens of perfectly posed Elf on the Shelf ideas that I will never, ever, have the time or energy to set up. I felt a click of — Wow, my mind is quiet. I felt a click of— Hey, we have a lot to talk about! I felt a click of Wow, I totally should have done this sooner.

Last night we observed one of my favorite holiday traditions, the Victorian Streetwalk. It was the most beautiful night and we walked along the decorated downtown with our two kids in tow. Saw friends, colleagues, families from preschool. It was a beautiful night of treats, hot cocoa, caroling and saxophone Santa. And I didn’t document not a word, not a photo of any of it. Not before. Not after. Not in the middle. Not in the bathroom (my classic hiding-posting spot), not before I went to bed. Not anywhere.

Because, as this poetry slam so eloquently illustrates we are becoming connected to machines more than we are becoming connected to each other. We are more concerned about the status we blasted to 250 friends than saying hi to the person on the sidewalk.

And yes, I have thought about the fact that I have a birthday party this weekend that I will want to capture and caption in real time as my soon-to-be four year old has the most amazing Superhero birthday party ever. But I am feeling less and less that this will mean anything about me and my Pinterest-worthy party throwing skills and feeling more than it will mean that an almost four year old little boy [and 15 guests J] will have my undivided attention for the only fourth birthday party he will ever have.

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