Thoughts on a 6+ week social media break

Thoughts on a 6+ week social media break

An extended social media fast had been brewing with me for a long time. Facebook has been a thorn in my emotional side since the 2016 election, honestly, but it has been hard to cut the cord because the platform is the only way I communicate in certain personal and professional relationships. Twitter hasn’t ever been a problem for me, it isn’t even a time suck. I check twitter every single day, it’s my favorite source for news and opinions, but I rarely use it on my phone, nor does it make me emotional in any way. 

Instagram has long been my social media app of choice, but more and more I found myself losing (literally) hours to it over the course of a day. I use it to avoid feelings and chores and delude myself into thinking it’s “work” or that I’m actually connecting with people. When my husband left in January to make a movie for five long months, I knew after just a few weeks of solo parenting and general life chaos that I should make some dramatic changes to my personal routines and that included removing the distraction and emotion-swirling effects of social media. 

But I am addicted to this stuff, there is no doubt. I enjoy the creativity of it and the gratification of instant feedback. I genuinely like seeing other people’s creativity and work and their lives as depicted on a little screen. However, by the time I officially started my social media break - using Lent as a loose time frame - I was so ready to make the change that I didn’t suffer the withdrawal I thought I would given social media’s prominence in my brain. 

A few things I did notice, based on notes I took along the way…

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10 Podcasts to binge

10 Podcasts to binge

It's hard to imagine that just a few short years ago I didn't listen to podcasts at all. Now they are such a huge percentage of the entertainment and information that I consume, barely a day goes by that I don't listen to something.

I subscribe to dozens of shows, but it's rare that I listen to episodes on the day they drop. I'm a binger. I will wait until a series is done before I listen to it for 8 hours at a time. If you're a fellow binger, I have a few suggestions for you:

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10 Best Fiction books of 2017

10 Best Fiction books of 2017

End of the year lists are the best, I love keeping a record of the best things about a season, and my year-end book lists are my favorite to compile. On average, my goal is to read about 1 book a week, or roughly 50 - 55 books a year. I hit that goal in 2017, but it was a little uneven.

Mid-way through the year I became a little disappointed with what I’d been reading. It’s true that I had a small slump in the spring where I didn’t read much or read things that I didn’t love, but I kicked it up a notch and now that I look back on the whole of 2017, I can see that I read some truly phenomenal things. The types of books that when you’re finished with them, you think to yourself, “I want to read more stuff like THAT.” Not in content, but in caliber. 

Here are 10 of the best:

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WHY 10 Things To Tell You?

Picture us as best friends, life’s busy-ness means we haven’t caught up in several weeks and we are in dire need of a night out, or a lunch, or a long walk together. Imagine we meet at a favorite restaurant, you beat me there and order drinks first, and welcome the bowl of salty chips plopped in the center of the table. 

I arrive, slide into the booth breathless with excitement, and say “I have 10 things to tell you!”

“Oh, good!” You say. “I have a ton to talk about, too.” 

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This exact scenario plays out in my life regularly. In that booth, or on voxer, or over text. I have friends who live all over the country, and even though modern technology makes it easier for us to keep up with one another, it’s not the same as a marathon session catching up. Even my local friends here in Los Angeles are just as busy as I am toting children around and hustling work, and this culture of busy, achieving, overscheduled families means we go days or weeks without a proper conversation. 

10 Things To Tell You was born out of these marathon talks with friends and the desire to share what we're reading, watching, and listening to that is helping us grow. 

Sharing yourself is the only way to forge and deepen human connection. Giving and letting yourself receive from others makes us better friends, family, parents, and partners. I’ve been sharing my life and recommendations online for nearly a decade, and it has changed my world. The internet makes it so easy to share, but the real magic is face to face.

I have 10 Things To Tell You, but I REALLY want you to go tell your own 10 Things to the people who matter to you. Tell your friends about the books, shows, movies, podcasts, and whatever else that is making you think, making you laugh, expanding your heart. Share the things you can’t stop thinking about. If you don’t tell them, how will they know? Don’t be shy, and definitely don’t listen to that little voice that says your opinion doesn’t matter. TELL PEOPLE your ten things! Or twelve things. Or the TWO things you really want them to know.

Share your stuff. It makes all of us better.

10 Notes on starting a blog when blogging is dead.

1. Blogging is over, right? Donzo. Lame.

Was it always lame? Kind of. I mean, it was never cool. But there was a time when everyone was into blogs. A lot of people blogged and a lot of people read blogs and it was both an embarrassment and awesome. Everyone wanted other people to share their most personal stuff on the internet so we could read it. A lot of us fell on that sword, giddy over having a voice for possibly the first time. Now, it wasn't all rainbows and roses, even in its heyday blogging got a bad rap. Sometimes the people who were the most critical of personal blogging were also the most avid readers. But the most important part was real and true: people shared themselves and connected with strangers across the world. The blogging eruption was a history-making, world-shrinking miracle. 

2. And then, sure as sky, the big backlash happened. Popular blogs became too commercial, babies of mom bloggers grew up, people who wrote eloquently about their life struggles were outed as being insane. The monkeys ran away with the circus, as they say. 

3. I had a blog, back in the day.

Writing on the internet saved my life in some ways, kept me company during some lonely years and was one long course in personal essay writing. I enjoyed it, it opened a lot of doors for me, I traveled around the world three times on invitations stemming from my blog. But then I killed it with worry. Strangled it under the crushing fear of other people’s opinions. I grew tired and stressed over my blog and when the opportunity came for me to jump off that train, I gladly took it. 

 

4. But I’ve actually missed blogging in the intervening years. Not chasing page views and navigating algorithms, that part makes online content creators fully fetal. But the genuine sharing, on a site that’s not being manipulated by a foreign entity, or governed by a character count. I like writing on the internet. 

5. You know what else, I like? Lists.

6. And my real gift to the world is bossiness. Among friends and family and online acquaintances, I am known for telling you EXACTLY what you should do, the books you should read, what to order, how to feel, align, organize, breathe. My obsessions come in fast and deep and then I have an uncontrollable desire to share them with the world.

7. The internet has been great for me.

8. And also, not so great. I have true concerns about how all this screen time is changing our brains and hearts and culture at large. 

9. But every time I start to think about stepping away from the internet forever (I’ve never truly contemplated stepping away from the internet forever), I come back to the piece about sharing. I think that people sharing their stuff - the personal, the trivial, and life's most important lessons - is the key to connection and peace.

10. I might run out of things to say after the first six months. But for now, I have 10 Things To Tell You.