Where Do You Draw The Line with Social Media?

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I have a love hate relationship with social media. I don’t think I”m wrong in stating that this is the norm. At least once a week I have a Facebook friend who declares they are deactivating their account forever, and then they return a week later with a rant about Comcast and selfies with their dog.

We can’t stay away.

It’s simple enough to see that social media has changed our world drastically in a short matter of time. Now, we cannot imagine a world without it. We check it countless times a day, we share what we are eating, where we are going, what we are buying. We share our views on current events, complain about the jerk at Starbucks and humblebrag about our gym workouts. It’s what we do. And that is fine.

 But when does the net of the world-wide web become less of a way to reach out and grow and more of a trap. When does social media hinder us from actually being social?

Don’t mistake me, I love many things about Facebook and Instragram and Twitter. I enjoy seeing what close friends who live states away are up to every week. I’m the girl who will actually click-through all 122 pictures of your beach vacation. I enjoy browsing through the adorable photos of your kids and your pets. I like to see the life updates of acquaintances; new jobs, engagements, weddings, babies, new homes, graduations. I like seeing you do fun and happy things with your loved ones.

I enjoy celebrating and documenting my life and updating friends and family on outings, life updates, and fun photos. I support your choices and will validate them with likes galore.

But somewhere I have to draw a line.  Lately I’m becoming more and more angry with social media. Lately it feels like the rude uninvited party guest that crashes the party, eats the last of the nachos, brags about how awesome their life is, talks badly about every guest behind their backs, and makes you go home early feeling miserable about yourself. 

Social media has every characteristic of a toxic friend:

It’s Rude: Social media intrudes into every aspect of our lives. It’s there in between my husband and I in bed. In the morning we both reach for our phones rather than reaching for each other. On our commutes we bury our heads in our phones, scrolling through our Instagram and Twitter feeds instead of having some quiet contemplation time. We sit down to catch up with our spouse and refer constantly to “awesome” articles we read online, or a blog post that caught our attention, or the newest cat video. It’s hard to imagine a conversation that does not include at least one reference to something we saw online.

Are we even thinking for ourselves anymore? At get togethers with friends, Facebook is causing silence as we “check in” to restaurants and share pictures of our meals and post statuses saying what an awesome time we are having. But are we?

It’s Needy: Social media sucks us in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost 30 minutes or more of my life just trolling through Facebook and Twitter. How many times I’ve back stalked someone on Facebook or looked through countless photo albums. Or when one link on twitter leads to reading 6 BuzzFeed articles. Social Media is that annoying friend that says you never spend enough time with them. They always want more. 

It makes us feel miserable: People only present their ideal lives on social media. You will never see people posting repeatedly about their colic baby, their vomiting dog, their annoying in-laws, their leaky roof, or how their spouse is driving them absolutely nuts. Social media bullies us into thinking our lives are miserable compared to what we see online. Similarly it also makes us feel like our lives aren’t worth living unless we have perfect things to share online. The comparison games leaves us feeling joyless and worthless. We think the things that makes us happy aren’t true unless someone validates them. 

It’s a Dictator: The other week I was catching up with a friend at her house when I witnessed her baby walk from one end of the room to the other. I let our a “woot!” and asked when this milestone happened. My friend responded, “oh last week, didn’t you see the video I posted on Facebook?”. Unless you are constantly checking your feed your are apt to miss out on people’s exciting news.I can’t tell you the last time I had a lengthy phone call with a friend or when news was spread personally rather than a big announcement on social media.

Facebook dictates social news. It has taken over as the way to learn about your friends lives, rather than actually, you know, be social with them on a one to one situation. 

It delivers false promises: Social media promises to make us feel connected to one another. In turn we feel the need to constantly check our news feeds, fearing that we may miss out on some fun story, news, or event. We want to be part of everything. But our FOMO (fear of missing out) makes us so disconnected from ourselves, our needs, that we eventually miss out on what is most important – what makes us happy as individuals.

We are promised community a place to share ourselves and find someone else that will say, “me too!” Instead we have turned into a society of people so desperate for a sense of connection that we sit with our eyes buried in social media blind to the fact that our loved one sits right next to us doing exactly the same. 

Has social media made us all socially awkward? Has it made us lose touch with our independence? In a world of selfies have we lost all sense of self? We declare that selfies are a way to show our uniqueness, our own special beauty. But if we are all so proud of our own beauty, why do we need to share it 5 times a day and constantly check to see how many likes we have received?

Where is the line drawn between sharing, documenting or celebrating your life and searching to one up your friends and acquaintances and prove that you live a worthy life?

I don’t know how to escape it when it’s all around us. We’re headed to Jamaica for a family vacation soon and even my mom was surprised when I said I wasn’t going to take advantage of the free wi-fi at the resort. Escape is hard to find when you live in a world where everyone around you is dependent on social media.

I find a time everyday where I simply put down the phone. We try to have a no phones allowed time each night and stay off of Facebook in bed. But when our cellphones are the only way for family and friends to reach us in times of emergency we can’t simply put down the phone and walk away for a long period of time. 

So I want to know. Where do you draw the line with social media?

xoxo Katie

Back in MY Day…

Back in my day, 80s and 90s nostalgia

Every generation goes through it. Every generation looks at the one behind them and tells tales that start with “Back in MY day.” My parents filled me with tales of the shortest mini skirts, not being able to wear jeans (or even pants for my mom) to school, driving in cars without seat belts, and typing college papers on typewriters.

Maybe it’s because I’m on the cusp of being a narcissistic millennial but I believe my generation is seeing the biggest gap between generations. 

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1985. Bowl cuts and mickey mouse sweats were all the rage.

Being born in 1983, my generation is the last to remember a childhood free of the internet. This equated to more time outside, more imaginary play, more creativity,  less pressure, less pop culture and sexual awareness, less over saturation,  and in general more innocence. 

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Summers at the shore. 1989.

Back in my day, messages weren’t conveyed via texts but by handwritten notes. Usually multiple ones a day and even better if they were written on Sanrio or Lisa Frank stationary. Keroppi was the best.  keroppi Instead of collecting followers and likes on social media I collected stickers, pencils, erasers, pogs, and little plastic animals.  In the summer I lived outside.

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1990, at my favorite place, the pool!

I spent my days at the pool, either swimming around and playing pool games like Sharks and Minnows or Run the Bases or playing My Little Ponies or Barbies in the grass while eating ice cream that cost 25 cents. In the evening I’d be running around with the other neighborhood kids playing kick the can or capture the flag.

Rainy days were spent inside playing the skateboarder pizza delivery game on Atari or Super Mario Brothers on Nintendo. If my brother was doing his own thing I’d transform my entire bedroom into a Barbie house or set up an imaginary school or store. If we were really bored we’d torture our dog, Missy. 

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1987, pushing MIssy around in the shopping cart. Check out those shorts!

I know the way to hit my brother and get away with it was to slap him with my slap bracelet. Other accessories included stick on earrings, snap together beads, jelly bracelets, and a plethora of scrunchies.

My most treasured toy was my Samantha American Girl doll. 

We had awesome sleepover parties where we’d play Light As A Feather Stiff As A Board and apply heavy blue eyeshadow on each other and then have fashion shows in our nightgowns and crimped out hair. 

My summertime wardrobe consisted of Umbros and a baggy t-shirts (bonus points if they featured sun flowers) on top of my one piece Speedo or my SUPER cool floral bikini.I wore huge plastic glasses for most of my childhood because that was the only glasses option. At least they were pink! I was unaware of dressing trendy or cute.

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1988, playing My Little Pony with my brother at the beach house.

When I got to fourth grade, the best place to shop was Limited Too, back when they sold preppy vests, stirrup pants, and boxy sweatshirts. 

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1996. Obligatory State Park sign during our family “West” trip. Seventh grade was the year of the sunflower.

My family owned a few of our favorite movies on VHS but most of our movie collection was made up of movies we recorded from TV to our VCR. It was so exciting when we’d get a free promo weekend of HBO or Showtime because then we could record all of the newer movies! My mom would record General Hospital everyday on the same beat up VHS tape and we’d watch it together in the evening, rewinding the tape at the end so that it was ready to record tomorrow’s saga all over again. 

I had my own cool pink radio/cassette player which I would use to play my favorite tapes: Amy Grant, Rod Stewart, Mariah Carey, Ace of Base and the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack. I also perfected the skill of waiting for my favorite new song to come on the radio and pushing “record” just in time. 

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1995, down at the shore in my Umbros. I always caught the biggest fish on my Pop-Pop’s boat.

Recess was spent playing Horse, 4-Square, trying to knock the other person off the other end of the see-saw, or pretending to do gymnastics on the balance beam. We all believed in the mythical tale of the kid who once swung so hard on a swing that he flipped himself all the way over the swing set. I looked forward to rain days so we could have inside recess and play teacher and write on the chalkboard. The go to classroom chore was being the student who got to go outside and clap out the dirty chalkboard erasers. 

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1991. Troll dolls on Christmas morning!

We had a computer in the house but it was mostly used to make very pixellated Mother’s day cards printed on paper that you had to tear the perforated edges off of.  When I was in 7th grade the word internet started to be thrown around.

When I was in 9th grade my parents secured a second phone line so that we could log onto AOL and be able to receive phone calls at the same time. Yet we still didn’t spend too much time online because there wasn’t much to do. I was still happy about the second phone line because then I could spend HOURS talking with my friends on the phone.   

In the early teen years I was obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio. The entire inside of my closet was covered in magazine cut outs of Leo. Love. I couldn’t wait to get my newest issues of Seventeen and YM Magazine.

I listened to Jewel’s “Pieces of You” album on repeat. The first CD I ever bought with my own money was Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissett. I was with my Pop-Pop when I bought it and he made me play it for him when we got home from the mall. It was so embarrassing.   By 8th and 9th grade the internet was gaining popularity. Now the only reason I logged online was to chat with my friends or boys. 

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1997 Easter. Baby doll dress and platform sandals.

 In high school your AOL profile defined you. I would sculpt and edit mine on a daily basis. There was so much pressure in listing our favorite bands and movies and choosing song lyrics or a quote that would make you seem cool. No one was cool.  Still, the only thing I did on the internet was chat with my friends and meet boys. It was an experimental adventure. But honestly, I formed some good friendships and even met a few in real life and became pen pals. All innocent fun! 

I thought I was so cool because I doused myself with tommy girl and wore skater clothes. Delias was the coolest place to buy your clothes! But you had to order it via the phone or by a handwritten form that you’d send in the mail with a check. I had the coolest patent leather Airwalks. I made my mom drive around to all the surrounding malls to find them. No online shopping for us. My go to body product was Bath and Body Work cucumber melon and I displayed it proudly on my dresser.

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2000, Junior Prom. Where are my eyebrows?

My friends and I would make a lot of at home music videos and comedy videos as well as take a lot of staged dressed up photos. We had to be stingy with the photo taking though as film was expensive and it would usually take us weeks to get the film developed I got my first real cell phone when I got my license. I drove a 1988 Honda Accord that was originally owned by my grandmother and then passed down to my mom, then to my older brother, and then finally to me. I loved that car.

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2001 High School Graduation day, I loved my Honda Accord.

When I wasn’t jamming out to my latest mixed tape I was blasting my walk men that I hooked up via a tape deck. My big Nokia phone, complete with a pull out antenna, was kept safely in my glove compartment. I only turned it on when I needed to make a call, and for emergency’s only, like to tell my mom I was going to be 10 minutes past my curfew. 

There was no Facebook or even MySpace. The only thing you had to worry about online was scripting the perfect “away” message on AOL Instant messenger. Your confidence and identity was built offline.

Life was (dare I say it again?) more innocent and free. What are your best memories from “back in the day”?  

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