Beginnings, Endings & How I Suck At Both

I struggle with beginnings. Sometimes I just don’t know how to greet my audience. Good morning? Hey! Dear Reader…sure, if I want to sound like an advice columnist.

Because I struggle with beginnings, I often choose to just jump right into a post. Welcome to Exhibit A, I’m glad you made it this far. This is the part where I tell you that I’ve totally tricked you as this post has little to do with my struggle in acceptable beginnings; once again, I changed my site name to 1BadBlogger for a reason. It’s actually about my on-going struggle with endings. You can pretty much click on any of these posts to see that completing things is an issue for me: try this one, or this one, or maybe visit here.  Those posts are from a 30 day blog challenge it took me approximately 60 days to complete, however that’s a huge improvement from never finishing things at all. Need more proof? Just try searching through my blog posts from the last couple of years and you’re sure to find a few where I’ve said I’m going to share or do something and then only partially followed through. I have an idea, I get excited, I do a few things with it & then, inevitably, I get to a point where I simply lose steam & the whole project shrivels up and quietly dies where it sits. I’ve been practicing seeing things through regardless of my current level of “steam” but as previously mentioned, it takes me twice as long as it’s supposed to. But hey – that’s progress!

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 9.49.52 AMAt the end of February I challenged myself to a 30 day Social Media Detox. I was going to spend the entire month of March avoiding Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat & Pinterest. The idea is to reconnect with people and the world around you by disconnecting, just a little, from the internet. I was told numerous times that it would be great for stress-relief, my anxiety levels would decrease significantly & I would, overall, be able to experience more real-life joy instead of worrying about trying to document everything for social media. I believe those things to be generally true, but specifically – for me – I was surprised by what happened. Clearly I didn’t make it the full 30 days because here I am on 29th day already summing up the experience for you, but in this case I’m not really upset that I didn’t see the challenge all the way through. If you’re curious, keep reading. If not, you’ve probably already closed the tab and this sentence is completely pointless.

Day 1 – It was hard to stay off Facebook in particular. Once, I even wanted to log in just to post a status about how hard it is not to log on to Facebook to post a status.

Day 2 – I failed. Already. I found myself feeling forced to log on to Facebook to post about a fundraiser the girls were having for school. It was fruitless and I should have just told them I posted to Facebook instead of actually doing it, but I have this annoying policy about trying not to lie to my children. I couldn’t even pull off the Santa thing for a whole 4 years. Or the Tooth-Fairy thing, or the Easter Bunny thing, or any of the commercialized, supposedly-magical, (or actually magical) things. The only thing I’ve successfully lied to them about (that I can think of at this current moment) is that boy babies come from Home Depot & girl babies come from their store of choice. (Girl babies started off at Wal-Mart and then I thought wait…why do girls have to come from Wal-Mart? Why can’t they come from Bath & Body Works, Sephora, a fancy shoe store, or I don’t know…Game Stop?) It’s a double standard, I know, because clearly I didn’t struggle with Home Depot as the birthing place for boys, but my only son loves Home Depot so it was an easy lie for him to swallow until he hit the age of 9. This is a rabbit I don’t need to chase right now, but maybe there’s a blog post on that in the future? No promises though; remember, I’m bad at finishing things. The point is that on day 2 I was already allowing my arm to be twisted into making exceptions on my 30 day detox. It’s a good thing I’m not addicted to anything more dangerous than an iPhone.

Day 3: I wanted to log onto Facebook to see if anyone responded to the post about the girls’ fundraiser, but I refrained. I thought Instagram was going to be the challenging one to stay away from but Facebook was clearly the biggest challenge.

Day 4: It was hard not to check Facebook in the mornings like I usually do. I had no trouble staying off everything else, but all it did was give me more time to play Candy Crush. I told myself I didn’t want to defeat the purpose of staying off social media by continuing to spend an inordinate amount of time on my phone so I deleted Candy Crush too.

Day 5: I reinstalled Candy Crush.

Day 6: My diary of notes that I was keeping on my phone tells me that I hadn’t noticed many positive effects of not using social media at this point. My husband was still sharing (mostly fake) Facebook news and stupid survey posts with me (“hey babe, this says my spirit animal is a bear.” Okay…) so the things I was really trying to get a break from, I was still exposed to even after actively trying to avoid them. Now I’m thinking day 6 was a little early to be expecting any benefits.

Days 7 – 14: On day 7 I was too busy getting ready for a trip home to worry about social media. I spent the day cleaning, packing and not really missing it at all. Day 8 was all driving home so no time for it then either. Days 9-12 were spent at home with family and that’s always a busy whirlwind of events which don’t give me time for much else, though I did log on to both Facebook and Instagram on day 9 to post an updated picture of my freshly-styled hair. I couldn’t NOT share this. 17201376_10154883514554845_625678593497360933_n

Day 13 was mostly driving back to Florida & crashing once I got home. Day 14 was getting the kids back to school & using the day to recuperate from the trip. Plus, I had insane hives; so many that my face swelled up to twice its normal size so Instagram selfies were out of the question. I was so annoyed that I did post a status on Facebook about it. I promptly closed Facebook out and didn’t visit or reply to any comments that day though.

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Days 15 – 18: were spent indoors hiding from world due to a red, swollen face that looked a lot like this: Stinging_hex_effect

It’s safe to say I was more interested in my bed and SOA on Netflix than I was in being sociable with anybody, but still – I did reply to a few comments on my previous Facebook post.

Day 19: I felt & looked a lot better by this time, but I didn’t make any notes on this day so I can’t remember exactly what we did. I checked my Facebook page and there are no posts or comments from me so I can only assume I successfully avoided it on this day. I do know that I had successfully avoid Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat completely. I didn’t even miss Twitter (because I never actively use it anyway) or Snapchat. Pinterest was harder because I wanted to search for house decorating ideas, but Google sufficed in that instance and I didn’t pin a thing. Success!

Day 20: I got several email notifications of having been tagged on Facebook. I did not succumb to the temptation to check them.

Day 21: This is where my Facebook and Instagram activity both go back to being used at least once a day. I had to share this lovely picture from the beach. I still wasn’t logging on to Twitter, Snapchat or Pinterest though.

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Days 22-29: I logged on to Facebook at least once daily (multiple times on the 24th-today, the 29th) and Instagram quite a bit. I had pretty much given up on the need to “detox” so much as just really limit my exposure. If I caught myself scrolling mindlessly I would check myself and close the apps out to go do something productive.

The final result of the detox:

As you can clearly see, I technically failed, but I can honestly say I’m not disappointed about the experience at all. I didn’t go a full 30 days completely avoiding all social media – and maybe my results would have been different if I had – but here is what I noticed in a nutshell:

It did not decrease my anxiety or stress because none of that stuff was coming from social media. If anything, the use of social media (in appropriate amounts) really helps me with those things.

The vast majority of the people I follow share funny, inspiring, wonderful things that really uplift me. I try to do the same with my posts. It didn’t free up anymore time than usual because all I did was fill that time with Candy Crush & internally cussing out Licorice Larry (pathetic, I know). As long as I’m not spending an inordinate amount of time on it and overloading, I feel great. I accomplish what I need to during the day, I sleep enough at night, I have time to exercise, I have time for my family, I have time to write…social media isn’t taking away from any of that. It used to a few years ago, but I have actively been trying to correct that and I can see now that I’ve done a pretty good job. I’ve learned how to use it in small doses that have more of a positive impact than a negative one. Social media isn’t the problem; it’s how much time you actually spend on it and the quality of that time when you do. If you’re always reading someone’s drama, sharing sad stuff, using it to avoid your real life, finding yourself annoyed or depressed, or comparing your life to someone else’s life then of course it’s going to be kind of a crappy experience for you. So don’t use it that way!

If you want the longer, more detailed novel-like explanation that I wrote before I wrote the “in a nutshell version” here it is (just because I can’t stomach having written all that stuff and then just deleting it). Otherwise, feel free to skip to the section in bold at the bottom as I know you have way more important things to do than stay here and read my (redundant) babbling. 🙂

People told me I would experience a decrease in stress and anxiety, I’d find myself with more free time, spending more time with my family, etc.; all great things, obviously.  What I noticed was that I already do a lot of those things. I already spend A LOT of time with my family and when I am actively spending time with them the desire to check Facebook or be on my phone isn’t really there at all. I easily avoided taking phone calls when I was having conversations with my husband. On several of those days I took forever to respond to texts because I was too busy talking to my hubs or my kids, or driving, or any number of other things. We visited Georgia, we did household chores together, we went walking, riding bikes, we went to the beach, we went to the pool several of those days. Each time, I posted a photo or two (in one case an album with more than 5 photos) and then I logged off, OR I waited until we were home and the kids were cleaning up or otherwise engaged to post. The point is that I realized I don’t spend a lot of time on my phone when I’m actively engaged in activities with my family. I already try to be as present as possible in those scenarios and I discovered that the time I spend on Facebook or social media is usually what I would consider my free time anyway. I may use Facebook during the day when the kids are at school to procrastinate washing dishes, but I don’t neglect my family in favor of scrolling, liking, or seeing how many surveys or “name-tests” I can take.

I also noticed that my anxiety doesn’t come from being on Facebook. I don’t socialize very much with people who share things that make me feel annoyed, sad, or just generally bad after having read it. I promptly delete or simply unfollow those people once I recognize that as a pattern. (There’s a difference in sharing the occasional rant, bad mood, sad news, vent, etc. and doing it all the time.) If I notice that I regularly feel bad after spending time with a certain person I either cut that person out of my life or, if it’s someone I can’t really cut out due to family relations or other deep ties with them, I really limit my exposure to that person to decrease those negative feelings without completely cutting them out of the picture. Social media is meant to be fun & to keep you in contact with people you can’t regularly see or hang out with and that’s mostly how I’ve been using it. All you people complaining about the stupidity and drama in your lives: newsflash – you have complete control over that, especially online. If you don’t like it, change it.

I did this challenge because I felt like I needed a reset. Maybe I was getting back into a bad habit of using social media too much and that’s why I felt the need? I’m not really sure. I just know I heard a little voice tell me to take a break & I went with it. The only thing I really found out is that I need to delete my Twitter account & maybe my Snapchat, because I REALLY didn’t miss one and I barely missed the other. I haven’t logged on to either of them once in nearly a month, nor have I been tempted to. Facebook and Instagram is all I’m really interested in & I discovered that I do a pretty good job of managing my time on both of those. I didn’t need 30 days of social media detox from them because I find that using them is beneficial to me rather than the opposite, but like I said: if you find that is not the case for you, change it! Maybe a 30 day social media detox will be more successful for you than it was for me. Have you done it before? How did it go? What were your impressions during and after? Do you plan to do it in the future?

 

 

Life On The Internet

My attention was recently drawn to a blog post by From The Pews.

Such a short, simple post had me contemplating this digital age we live in. It has given us so much. Technology & those who study/create it have provided the world with innovative tools for building/creating, healing, inventing, doing business, staying in touch with far-away friends & family, & even making new friends despite distance & other circumstances. It has afforded us new, sometimes easier ways to earn a living & support our loved ones. Blogging & YouTube are among the many tools people use to gain the notoriety which has led to some of those people being able to make ends meet without doing much more than sitting in front of a computer screen. We can thank YouTube for Justin Bieber.

0123-fish-split-bieber-1Speaking of Justin Bieber, that brings me to all the other undesirable things our digital age has bestowed upon us.

I realize we have to take the bad with the good (the ‘sh_t with the sugar’ if you ask my husband) and that makes perfect sense. But sometimes I wonder if the good we’re getting is worth the price we’re paying for it. For example, the internet is a largely dominant force in our modern society. Like…the most epic invention in the history of ever. But what has it cost us?

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With the internet came amazing things like instant access to information, the ability for anyone to contribute content from anywhere, and a constant flow of knowledge about nearly anything right at your fingertips. It birthed the idea of social media, digital books, tablets & smartphones. It also brought us some problems.

Such as: 1.) Instant access to information: now instant gratification is the norm causing many people to lack patience & the basic knowledge of how to find a book in a library when the internet is down. dc2e9cce912824d6093131b9501beadePeople don’t know what to do with themselves when there isn’t some form of technology close by. I’m guilty of it, too. We all look like this without a computer or a smartphone in our hands:

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For God’s sake, use your internet-free time wisely; go learn how to hunt or build something! We used to make steel in this country!

 

2.) The ability for anyone to contribute content from anywhere. True or false, good or bad, for better or worse.

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I thought you couldn’t put anything that wasn’t true on the internet?

 

3.) constant flow of knowledge about nearly anything right at your fingertips. You have access to a multitude of great education, sure, but you also have people searching for how to kill babies without getting caught & then leaving them in hot cars while sending explicit messages to minors. AND you don’t know if that is even what actually happened; all you know is what the internet told you & the internet has so many sources for telling us things that we can never know which things are actually legitimate and which aren’t. Luckily, there’s a great source that helps with that called snopes.com, but they can’t tackle every falsehood on the internet and they’re even bound to be wrong themselves a time or two.

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All those problems come with their own little subset of other problems.

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Now we don’t have to be stationary to be on the internet. We can tweet while walking down a busy street or at dinner with our families. We can upload videos and give minute by minute updates on what we’re doing, what other people are doing, where we are, etc. We ignore the people we’re with so that we can let everyone who isn’t with us know what they’re missing (which is usually nothing). We have to have documented proof that we were there, wherever “there” is at the time. Being a photographer, I’m guilty of it, too. I want to preserve memories. I don’t want to forget anything so I want to document everything. But, we’ve forgotten how to just be where we are. We are so concerned with chronicling every moment of our existence that we actually miss the most important part of it. The part where we’re actually living & participating in life & not just documenting it. You should tweet that. (I’m kidding. I’m not kidding. I want you to join me in something later, so if you tweet that, other people can join us. But it’s totally up to you. Watch the video & read on…)

I’m going to practice just being where I am and enjoying the moments I’m given without the constant distraction of phones or social media. I won’t succeed 100% of the time, but I am going to make a conscious effort to put my phone on silent & tuck it away when I’m visiting with friends &/or family or at the dinner table. To leave it off or silenced unless I need it when hiking, exercising, driving, etc. To do more during the day than just blog & type random words into google search bars just to see what weird things people are searching for. To exercise, to enjoy fresh air, to learn without google, to discover new hobbies, make new friends the old fashioned way…

may-your-life-someday-be-as-awesome-as-you-pretend-it-is-on-facebook-520x357The goal is simply to live more in the present. I hope you’ll join me. That doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t take a picture of a beautiful view, message a friend we never see or update our status when our kid does something hilarious…we’re just a making a more conscious effort to pick our phones up less & participate more with life than we do with Facebook. I don’t think that’s asking a lot. Maybe some of us can even learn how to use the Dewey Decimal System or read a paper map. 😉 Tweet &/or share to FB to let me know you’re in & hopefully others will jump in, too!

img_6297Maybe we can help make this sad – albeit humorous – photo a little less true. And no, that does not mean you have my permission to share a YouTube video of me dancing like a mentally-challenged string bean…unless you tag me in it.

Typos: The Funny & The Humiliating

I’ve been thinking about typos a lot lately.

Mostly because I make several during the course of any given day. I tend to correct the most heinous of these before public consumption, but every now and then, one slips through the cracks. We’re only human I suppose. But for my part, I fear the universe is out to get me.

I once ended a professional email with “Retards,”…. Yeah, it was supposed to say “Regards.” Thankfully, the person who received this email knew it was a typo & had a great big laugh about it. I almost had a coronary, but – thankfully (again) – this was avoided upon finding out that I was not, in fact, fired.

On another, less humiliating, occasion I almost (key word: almost!) sent a tweet that said “You Cock!” instead of the intended “You Rock!” That could have ended badly.

What about God’s punishment for continually typing “dog” every time I mean to refer to Our Father (Thou Art in Heaven)? I reached 666 fans on my SpiffySnaps facebook page & a number that was previously moving at a fairly rapid speed just suddenly halted for 40 minutes. 40 minutes of which I watched the computer like a hawk waiting for the deep bellow of the beast & his swarm of red-eyed demons to come exploding from my iMac in a ring of fiery destruction. That totally didn’t happen, but you made your point, God. I’ll be more careful with my spelling. “Dear Dog” isn’t a fabulous way to start a prayer anyway & certainly not a way to insure that said prayer reaches the right ears. Although, I’m sure God could hear a prayer through a dog’s ears because…well, he’s God.

I seem to keep sticking my foot in my mouth so I’ll stop with the God stuff and just pray for forgiveness later. You think God gives out advances on forgiveness? No? Hm.

I can’t be the first person who’s witnessed someone talking about the movie 21 Jump Street & called it “21 Hump Street,” can I? And be assured, it was actually a typo and not an homage’ to Magic Mike. Well, not at first…though, it quickly turned into that.

Do you have any embarrassing typos you’d like to share? Don’t worry – I’m not judging you; while typing this, I totally just spelled typos “typis” which sounds more like a disease than something you do with a keyboard.