Mind = Blown.

Today, I had an epiphany.

I’ve slowly crawled back to social media usage. (Except Facebook. I have no desire to be on Facebook ever again.) I have popped on and off of Snapchat the past couple months, and have now reactivated my Instagram, if for nothing else but to show off my new [PLATINUM BLONDE] hair. I call it my quarter-life-crisis divorcee makeover.

I did this with the knowledge that everyone would roll their eyes and grumble: “This chick made such a big fuss about leaving social media, and now she’s back?! Are you kidding me?”

Well, here’s why.

The only occasions during my life when I’ve completely isolated myself from social media are:

  • Recovering from the worst breakup of my life
  • Being hospitalized during Peace Corps with the impending knowledge that I’d soon be medically separated
  • The months leading up to my divorce

Notice any commonalities?

While I stand by everything I said in my previous posts about the negative effect social media has on people’s lives, it occurred to me that I only want to withdraw socially when I’m depressed and things aren’t going well for me. It makes perfect sense! If I’m not happy with my life, then I don’t want to be inundated with impressions of other people’s happiness. And, I don’t want to post anything because there’s nothing good going on in mine. But if things are going well for me, I don’t mind sharing with others.

I guess, if anything, my desire to withdraw from social media is indicative of my desire to withdraw from regular social interactions on a broader level. Like a litmus test for how prone to depression I am. Now that I’ve returned, you could say, that shows that I’m in a good place–that I’m doing better.

My overly dramatic rejection of social media was an interesting social experiment, at least. But I did miss being able to easily keep in touch with my family and friends. It’s good to be back…and I really like my new hair.

Until my next depressing life event!

Advertisements

Off the Grid, Part Three: Breakthroughs

In the month that’s passed since I left social media, I’ve replaced a lot of time that I used to spend on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat with other activities. Some of these activities are good and wholesome–catching up with family and friends, reading books, cleaning my house–whereas some of them are just as useless as social media–watching TV, re-watching Goon for the eleventh time, and picking all the nail polish off my fingers, just to name a few. So unfortunately, leaving the most popular social media platforms did not automatically make me a better person; turns out I still have to keep working on that.

I do admit that I’m cheating a little; I have a secret Twitter account. I deleted my personal Twitter a while ago, and I don’t tweet at all on this one, I just follow sports accounts so I can stay up-to-date on my beloved Oregon Ducks and Vegas Golden Knights. I’ve debated whether or not this aligns with my recent convictions; since the Knights have gone to the playoffs, I have spent a lot of time enjoying dumb tweets from whiny LA Kings fans. Maybe too much time than is good for my already easily-frayed sports nerves. But, I keep telling myself, this won’t be an issue in the off-season…Right? This is the problem with social media: you give an inch, and they take an ell. Before you know it you’re up in the middle of the night wondering why William Karlsson won’t respond to any of your DM’s. 😦

However, I have also had some small victories! Here are a couple things that happened this month:

  • I went to a conference in Nashville. Normally, after I’m done attending sessions at these things, I go straight to my hotel room, take my pants off, and scroll through my Instagram while eating pizza in bed. I’m too tired from interacting with so many people for so long that I just need some fake and superficial interaction with people who can’t see that I’m not wearing pants. However, that was not an option this time. I got bored in my hotel room, so I decided to put on some pants and go to a networking dinner (which I normally never bother to) and ended up meeting some really nice people. It was a good example of how I’ve started to replace meaningless virtual social interactions with meaningful face-to-face ones.
  • A friend called me recently to discuss a life update that he knew I wouldn’t be aware of because I no longer have Facebook. We ended up having a wonderful, hour-long conversation that made each of our days. I realized that the chance that this conversation would have occurred in the first place would probably be lower if I was on social media. So even though I am missing out on the small things, I discovered that when important things happen to the people I care about, I’ll have opportunities like this to delve deeper and have a more quality interaction.
  • I caught up with a friend recently who had also stopped using her social media accounts months ago. We agreed that although the world may consider us to be strange now, that this is the direction that our generation is moving in. Here’s some proof:

Obviously these are extreme examples and most social media users are not stalkers or drug mules, but I think it’s evidence that the millennial generation has been greatly impacted by the use of social media, and we are beginning to become aware of and remedy the negative effects.

I’m retiring this “Off the Grid” series because I feel I’ve felt what I’ve needed to say about it. I leave for Istanbul one month from tomorrow and will be posting photos from there now that I’m sans Instagram 🙂

Off the Grid, Part Two: Withdrawal

It’s been almost two weeks since I deleted all my social media accounts. Many people have asked me how it’s gone since then. Honestly, the way I feel about that decision changes moment by moment.

On that Friday afternoon when I hit the “delete” button on Facebook and Instagram, and cleared Snapchat from my phone, I felt INSTANT ELATION. I felt like I was finally free after being held captive for years (three and a half, exactly, since I got my first smart phone). I was blissful for the next couple days, knowing that I didn’t “have” to “check” anything, I didn’t need to worry about what people would think of what was on my various profiles, that I would be much less likely to hear about depressing news or ridiculous outrage campaigns.

And then, the boredom set in. I would be in line somewhere, or waiting for something, and pull out my phone and realize, “Oh…right. There’s nothing to check anymore,” then sheepishly put my phone back in my purse. I would want to look up so-and-so from high school but then remember: “Right…I can’t.” A lot of the things I spent my down time doing–snooping on people, reading stupid B.S. opinion pieces about yoga pants or “Trump-Russia-something-something,” and watching models do workouts I would never get around to trying–I can’t do anymore. So instead, I just…sit there. Wait. Be in line with people.

I’m ashamed to admit how reliant I was on social media–how much I used it to take up my time, to keep in touch with others, to get information (much of it fake or biased). Now I have to do other things to take up my time: clean, study, read, take walks. I have to find other ways to reach friends: a text that says, “Hey! What are you up to? Do you want to get together?” There are things that happen in the world that I miss out on–like the recent bombing in Austin I overheard a co-worker mention–that, quite honestly, I’m totally okay missing out on. I’ve had to adjust, and I really miss that instant “fix” that would give me fun, connectivity, and a sense of belonging. But more so, I’ve realized just how fake that fix actually is.

Sometimes I feel bored. Sometimes I feel lonely. Sometimes I feel out-of-touch. But mostly, life goes on pretty much the same way it used to. I am still convinced this was the right thing for me to do, and the more I talk to people about it and read accounts from others who have done the same, the better I feel.

Stay tuned for Part Three, as I continue my fade into digital obscurity. 🙂

 

Off the Grid, Part One: Taking A Leap

This week I decided to permanently delete my most-used social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

To be clear, I do not think social media is bad, and I do not judge people who love social media or use it frequently. Like pretty much everything else in the world, it has pros and cons. What I’m saying is that I’ve determined that social media is bad for me. I started taking breaks from social media beginning last year, and ever since then have struggled with deleting my accounts altogether. I finally gained the courage to go through with it.

But why was this such a hard decision? I did an exercise where I wrote out all the reasons I wanted to leave and then listed all the reasons I should stay. After I compared the two lists, the decision became easy: all my “cons” were significant cons. (See #5 in particular.) All my “pros” were pretty weak, and I was able to contradict them easily.

Here are the results of my exercise, beginning with reasons to leave social media:

  1. I really don’t care about anyone and their stupid BS. Most of the stuff people post, including me, is drivel. I don’t need to know most of this information and I don’t need it in this quantity.
  2. I care too much about everyone and their stupid BS. Seeing everyone’s vacation photos and manicures and nights at the club and new job announcements makes me compare my life to theirs. I want to be as happy and skinny and sociable and interesting as every person on the Internet, and I feel bad that I’m not.
  3. “What is that thing? I want to buy that thing. Now I need that thing.” I’ve learned a lot about digital marketing at work, and it’s appalling the lengths that corporations go to in order to gather information about our buying habits and exploit them to get us to buy more. Don’t need the extra temptation.
  4. I’m on my phone ALL THE TIME. I was at the airport the other day, and I looked around and LITERALLY EVERYONE was on their phone, including me. Doing what? Stupid BS. Why couldn’t I just sit there and be a person? Why do I always feel compelled to be looking at a screen? I know these types of questions have become cliche, but as with most things that are cliche, they are also profound.
  5. Social media makes me sad. I don’t feel good after I look at these apps, I feel worse than before I open them. 90% of the time I don’t learn anything new that will help me in my life. I regret how much of my morning or my lunch break or time I should’ve spent sleeping I waste on these cat videos and people complaining about politics and my number of “likes.” I personally feel more unhappy than I do happy as a result of social media.

But at the same time, I don’t want to leave, and as I wrote out the reasons why I noted they were all fear-based:

  1. I’m afraid of missing out on my loved ones’ lives. The reality is, I don’t keep in touch with my family and friends very well. A lot of the phone calls, texts, and face time I would normally spend with these people has been replaced by social media. Analog relationship-building is a skill that I will have to improve at if I want to delete my accounts but still maintain my friendships. At the same time, are we really that good of friends if the only interactions we have are a “like” here and there every few months? Is that really a relationship worth keeping?
  2. I’m afraid of being left out. I realize that I won’t be “in the loop” with other people, or with the world in general, if I decrease my online presence. Anyone organizing a party on Facebook will probably not remember to invite me. I’ll lose contact with various groups I’m part of. I won’t know the biggest news stories unless I go out of my way to read about them. But how much will these things actually affect my life? We all know that the news is not actually the news anymore, and maybe I’ll get to die peacefully when North Korea drops a nuke on the west coast instead of spending months stressing about the buildup. How much of this apprehension over social isolation is just a silly, Freudian echo of a child’s fear of not getting an invitation to another kid’s birthday party?
  3. I’m afraid of being non-existent in the digital world, which is only getting bigger and more all-encompassing. I’ll be a weirdo without social media, for sure, and not the good kind of weirdo like Andy Samberg. I’ll be one of those weirdos that’s a big bummer in a “stick it to the man” kind of way, like raw vegans or Tiny House Hunters or people who don’t have bank accounts and keep all their money in the form of solid gold bars in their basement. I am going to inconvenience people and cause them to roll their eyes because of this decision. But…you know what? I already do that with my attitudes on weddings and baby showers and other dumb stuff that everyone else does. Might as well be consistent.
  4. To be completely honest, I’m afraid of people forgetting my birthday, because Facebook is the only reason anyone remembers it (except for my immediate family, my husband, and my soulmate Kayla.) Please take note: it’s December 12th.

I’m really looking forward to feedback from others who disagree and think that social media is a force for good, or people who have tried the same thing I’m embarking on and how it’s worked out for them. And most of all, I’m really looking forward to some PEACE AND QUIET FOR ONCE.

Stay tuned for Part Two!

20 Things I Believed in College

A few weeks ago I attended an event for work at my alma mater, the University of Oregon. It was the first time I’d been back there for non-football related reasons since 2012. The check-in staff enthusiastically gave me a little “Alumni” ribbon when I mentioned that I was a graduate. Everyone kept asking me: “How is it to be back?!” And I answered, “Uh…great!” But secretly, I just kept thinking, “All these kids make me feel SO OLD.”

As I walked around campus on a busy Thursday, I was filled with nostalgia. I had expected to traipse those walkways five years later a “completely different person,” as one always hopes herself will be five years in the future. But had I really changed that much? I had cut my hair. I had gotten married. I had appeared on an Albanian talk show next to a “topless DJ.” But I was still myself: mostly fun to be around but with a grumpy/sarcastic edge, highly anxious, easily irritated, and a gigantic nerd. It was kind of disappointing: I was not the sexy, cool human rights attorney (by day, and Wonder Woman by night)–or whatever vague, unreasonable career I imagined for myself at the time–that I envisioned as an undergrad.

Then I realized, as I ruminated on specific memories of myself, that quite a bit had changed—it was just more subtle than dropping 20% of my body fat or earning huge paychecks or saving the world. There were a lot of convictions I held from ages 18-22 that I was just plain wrong about. So, I wrote some of them down. They make me laugh today.

Things I believed when I was in college:

  1. You should study whatever you’re passionate about and not worry about money or career prospects.
  2. Waking up before 10:00 is impossible.
  3. Law school sounds like a good idea.
  4. I’ll never move back to my hometown—it’s the worst.
  5. People who have made different life decisions than I have are all dumb.
  6. I am “poor.”
  7. I am “busy.”
  8. I’m young. I can eat whatever I want!
  9. I’ll go on a date with anyone even if I’m not interested in them, because I’ll be young forever and have all the time in the world.
  10. If I’m not going out every weekend, I’m not “living life to the fullest.”
  11. I’m living on my own! I’m independent!
  12. I don’t need help.
  13. What’s “office hours”?
  14. I think I’ll do Peace Corps and subsequently become a hero.
  15. I’m never going to live with my parents again.
  16. I had one bad relationship so I’m never getting married.
  17. It’s easier to just be polite to my roommates and avoid conflict with them, even if they are horrible to me.
  18. That mold on my walls is probably no big deal.
  19. Football is definitely super important and I’m spending an appropriate amount of time stressing out about it.
  20. I don’t have a plan for my life but I don’t need to, because everything will just work itself out.

They say college is the last opportunity you have to make mistakes in life and get away with them. I certainly made mine, but luckily they weren’t that bad, and some of them I’m even glad I made. Thanks, U of O.

I’m Boycotting Christmas.

This a Public Service Announcement to my loved ones: I am boycotting Christmas this year. PLEASE DO NOT BUY ME ANY PRESENTS. Consider donating to Three Square instead. If at this point you’re rolling your eyes and asking “What is her deal NOW?” just read on.

I can’t keep it a secret any longer: I hate Christmas.

Yep, I’m a fat, fuzzy green Grinch, and I’m proud of it! Actually, I’m probably more of an Ebenezer Scrooge, because I resemble an old British man in more ways than one (i.e. I like to shake my cane at young people on my lawn). Either way, all those sneering villains in classic holiday movies are my heroes, because they understand what most people don’t: Christmas kinda sucks.

I’m anticipating the blowback for this post to be equivalent to, if not just as bad, as when I made a passing negative comment about Disneyland. But this time I actually think I have some decent points to make, so bear with me for a minute:

  • badmom

    If you don’t believe me, they have literally made a movie about this exact topic–“A Bad Mom’s Christmas,” as if only a horrible mother could deign to not do all the dumb Christmas stuff for her children.

    If you are an adult, particularly an adult female, Christmas is just a ton of work. It’s important to clarify that I believe Christmas sucks AS AN ADULT. When you’re a kid, it’s easy to love Christmas because you don’t really have to do anything to make it happen besides helping to decorate the tree. You get showered with gifts and get to eat all your favorite foods and spend time with your extended family. However, when you’re an adult, you’re expected to provide that experience for yourself and others. And on whom do tasks like baking, cooking, decorating, hosting guests, and shopping for gifts typically get delegated to? Women, because we have uteruses (uteri?), which supposedly makes us good at these dumb things while men continue to ruin the world.

    • Disclaimer: I understand that there are plenty of people–both male and female–who genuinely enjoy preparing for Christmas. However, I just don’t think it should be expected of any one person in a relationship or should be expected at all if you don’t want to do it.
  • Christmas has become a ritualistic worship of capitalism. This point has been made over and over again, but there’s a reason for that. Christmas is about presents, period. I get excited about Christmas because I know I will get stuff, and then I remember that I have to get stuff for other people, and then I’m like “UGH.” There’s pressure to buy gifts for everyone you know, hope that the gifts you get from others are equal in value to what you got them and vice versa, and correctly anticipate who is going to get you a gift so you aren’t empty-handed in return. Personally, I go into debt every year buying gifts and I know that the same is true for many of my friends. There is something seriously wrong with a religious holiday becoming a financial strain due to unreasonable expectations.
    whoville

    “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Oh wait, yeah, IT TOTALLY DOES.”

    • I have many wonderful friends whose “love language” is gift-giving, and I think that gift-giving is fine in and of itself. However, my issue with Christmas gifts arises when loved ones do not clearly communicate what to expect from one another. I think there needs to be more of a dialogue between family and friends about what they can reasonably spend on gifts so they avoid making dumb choices like I do. “Hey, I can’t afford to buy presents for everyone in the family. Can we do Secret Santa instead?” “Sorry, but money has been tight lately. Are you okay with a homemade gift?” Etc., etc.
  • Most of the stuff we do to celebrate Christmas has NOTHING TO DO WITH JESUS. Remember that part in the Bible when Jesus said, “Hey guys, make sure you hit up Black Friday to get mediocre sales on things you wouldn’t normally buy anyway”? Me either. Here’s what Jesus actually did say: “Lay up not for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” I think Jesus is probably freaking out like: “C’MON GUYS. There’s poor people, like, everywhere!!! Why are you standing in line at Burlington Coat Factory?!”
    • So what can we do to make Christmas more Christ-centric (if that is your desire)? How about not being incredibly selfish, like me? How about giving to those who aren’t mostly white upper-to-middle-class yuppies, like most of the people I associate with? How about not failing at being Christian anymore, like I do all the time?
  • Santa Claus is creepy. He is literally an old, fat man who stalks children and breaks into their homes at night. Can we get rid of him already?

Many of my family and friends have aptly pointed out that I will probably be more motivated to do the whole Christmas thing if/when I have children. They are correct. However, this year I’m going to do what Jesus might prefer I do: spend time with my family, try not to be so indulgent and self-centered as I’ve been the past twenty-six Decembers, and find someone who could use my help.

But you better believe I’m watching A Christmas Story on repeat all day long, because TBS knows what’s up.

10 Things That Happened After I Deleted Social Media

Last week I got really tired of checking social media so I deleted the Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat apps from my phone and deleted my Twitter account entirely. Here’s what happened:

  1. Had no idea what to do at night before bed. Started reading books n shiz
  2. Frequently wondered, “What am I missing?” and then quickly realized, “Probably literally nothing.”
  3. Thought about posting something I was doing then said “How about I just enjoy doing the thing I’m doing instead of trying to get a good picture of me doing the thing?”
  4. Felt WAY less pressure to be skinny *cough Instagram cough*
  5. Saw zero photos of the Kardashians
  6. Felt relief from being constantly inundated with information
  7. Realized that my (real) friends will actually still talk to me
  8. Got annoying-AF e-mails from Instagram begging me to come back
  9. Improved my attention spanSQUIRREL
  10. My life was exactly the same with the exceptions of numbers 1-9