My brother Dom still has a flip phone. He is also one of the few people I know to actually call me from a landline. Like a phone attached to a wall. With a cord. As you can imagine Dom does not partake in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and don’t get him all heated trying to explain how a Snapchat works. Dom prefers to live in the world of Unbook.com, as he calls it. According to Dom, people don’t really give a “rat’s a$$” about someone else’s pictures, how much someone can bench press at the gym, or that their kid graduated second grade. He doesn’t get the validation of “likes” or “comments”. Dom doesn’t have a list of friends with profile pictures attached. He can probably count his good friends on one hand, and he enjoys getting wings, drinking beer and good old-fashion conversation with each of them. None of his nights out are captured, hashtagged, shared or posted anywhere. Dom has never taken a “selfie”, which is probably good because the “selfie” is not forgiving on the Setaro schnoz. I bust his chops about what a dinosaur he is, but truth be told I can appreciate what he means by “unbooking” and his old school ways have some value to them.
I am guilty of being social media savvy. I love me some Instagram. I like that it combines my love of taking pictures with having a little timeline of what my kids are up to or places I love to run. I also love a witty hashtag. #HashtagProblems #NoReallyINeedToStopHashTagging #MyEnglishTeacherWouldCry
Snapchats from my friends are a special treat while I am in line at the grocery store or the dreaded camp pickup line. For example, my friend Sarah and I have a pact to only send each other snaps of our kids melting down or of messy laundry piles so we can feel better about not having it all together. It’s a little slice of reality and it’s relatable and hilarious to us. Dom would need a translator to understand a text conversation between my girl Andrea and I. Her use of emoticons and hashtags is on point and always make me smile. And of course many of you are reading this blog via Facebook, where I am also guilty of sharing vacation pictures, my kids’ first day of school, and Jimmy V. quotes.
Last year, though, I pulled a Dom and unplugged. I took a four month break from all social media. After the first week of detox and having the shakes thinking that I was missing out on earth shattering status updates or cute puppy pictures, I was amazed at what happened:
- I actually got way more done on my to-do list during the day instead of just re-writing my to-do list at night. It’s easy to get sucked into liking cute baby pictures on a news feed! I love cute babies!
- I was way more present. (My yoga teacher would be proud!) My phone was not on me all the time and my eyes read actual pages of a book instead of tiny pixels on a screen. I didn’t pick up my iPhone unless it was actually ringing. I took pictures with my real camera, no filter needed.
- I talked more with friends. Instead of reading “LOL” over a text, I actually heard the sweet sound of my friends’ laughter over the phone. I missed that. And when I made a witty comeback, there was no autocorrect to ruin my joke. Seriously, how many witty comebacks are ruined by auto-correct changing a word just before you hit send? The struggle is real! (I resisted the urge to hashtag that.)
- My laundry actually got folded and put away in the same 24 hour period. Amazing.
- I felt better about myself. I think at some subconscious level we all compare ourselves to the images we absorb and see where we might fall short. We can get sucked into other people’s negativity about their job or ambiguous friend drama. We can feel left out of that rockin’ good time a group of friends just posted at a concert. And let’s be real…that girl’s bikini body on vacation makes you feel bad about the Boston Creme donut you are having as you scroll the news feed. No-one should be sad when they are having a donut. That’s just not right.
Now, I did make my way back to social media because I am more of a butterfly than my brother and unlike Dom, I do realize that I live in the 21st century. I enjoy the cool apps that are out there. I mean, have you heard of Dubsmash? Good times! But I do appreciate his wisdom. At the end of the day, Dom’s main message is to not put too much stock in the perfect life portrayed on Facebook. Remember that just because someone doesn’t post about it doesn’t mean we all don’t have our stuff in life to deal with and work through. Just be in the moment of a night out, it doesn’t always need to be captured digitally. Notice how your friend’s nose crinkles when they smile, listen to your kid’s crazy story about what happened at recess, and be comforted by the sound of familiar voices instead of texts. Lastly, in true Dom fashion remember that life is short, drink good beer and, for the love of God, STOP ABBREVIATING! (#obvi)