This post is not about politics, a political preference or last night’s debate. It’s about stereotypes...Read More
My daughter caught me scrolling through facebook and said, “You’re not just doing that for work.” She was calling me out on what I’d been telling her, which was that I needed to be on facebook and instagram and twitter in order to stay in “the know”.
It was how authors promoted their books.
It was where I could announce my new literary agent, Carrie Howland from Donadio and Olson!
It was where I found interesting articles and learned about communicating in a social media world, which felt as natural to me as raising a baby whale.
I needed information!
But all this was relatively new.
I joined facebook, instagram and twitter only 18 months ago. I did that for two reasons. One, I wanted to promote my new blog; and two, I didn’t want to be left behind. I wanted to know what was going on around the globe, and I wanted to be a part of it.
Simultaneously, everyone in my family complained, bitterly, how I never answered my phone. And that was because I could leave it untouched for hours at a time while I wrote.
So over these 18 months, I became more connected and reliant. And little by little, something changed. (Read: Be Here Now.)
Just this weekend, I’d been wondering if I’d crossed some invisible line because last week, on vacation, in a first attempt to boost my numbers, I studied those social media sites for long periods of time when I was supposed to be relaxing on a beach.
It was my first vacation completely connected.
Before that friends teased me because I couldn’t manage to get my phone to work once I left the country. And of course, the truth behind that was I didn’t want a working phone.
Now that scenario seemed impossible, ridiculous, archaic.
So when my daughter called me on my behavior, it solidified what I’d been contemplating. I had to pay attention to what I was doing.
“I’m going to read,” I said. And I went upstairs. Alone in my room, I checked my wordpress numbers and read some email messages. Before I knew it, I was hooked and kept scrolling. Just a few minutes more I kept telling myself, my daughter’s voice in my head.
I stumbled on Oprah's SuperSoul Sessions.
I was elated!
I thought about how as a child, I got bored. But now, as an adult, with all this access, how could I ever get bored? There was so much to see; I couldn’t keep up.
The SuperSoul speaker was Elizabeth Gilbert. And she was speaking to a huge audience about passion and curiosity and I clung to every word with guilty pleasure. I told myself again and again, rationalizing, that I could’ve paid for seats in that audience and her talk would’ve felt like a cultural outing, something special.
Elizabeth’s speech was empowering and informative and yet as I watched her on my I-phone, I watched the clock intently aware that I was missing precious reading time. I’d been in my room for close to an hour, my book, unopened, at my side.
And here’s what happened:
I wanted to watch another SuperSoul Session but didn’t. I was intent on reading. And worried that the Internet had control of me, I made sure to read. It was a bargain, kind of like how an alcoholic decides he doesn’t have a drinking problem if he can go without alcohol for two days.
The trouble was, I didn’t get into the shower when I was supposed to, and running late, decided not to go out.
My Internet distraction, just like any addiction, had an impact.
There are so many possibilities of how my evening could’ve unfolded.
Maybe my daughter and I would’ve had a meaningful conversation.
Maybe I would’ve read more pages.
I definitely would’ve showered when I was supposed to and then my night would’ve taken a different direction. Instead of staying home, I could’ve gone to a jazz club and heard live music. I could’ve gone to a movie in an actual theater and not watched the stupid one I rented at home.
It’s not that any of these activities were necessarily bad, because I really did appreciate the Gilbert talk; it was just that they all felt a bit out of my control.
And while I had a nagging feeling that I was tipping into new territory over the last few weeks, I kept pushing the thought away, denying, and or defending my choice to send a text, answer an email, post a comment. As if any of these were actually choices.
The word addiction kept popping into my head.
Was I addicted?
That’s ridiculous, I told myself. Just 18 months before I didn’t even have a facebook friend.
But if addiction is a relentless and compulsive pull to a substance, or activity, and interferes with everyday life, I (shockingly) was guilty of that.
And then I woke up to the NY Times article: Addicted to Distraction and everything I’d been feeling was laid out in front of me.
I related to Tony Schwartz’s experiences wholeheartedly.
And yet, and maybe this is denial, I had questions.
Schwartz wrote about being less focused because of the amount of time he spent online.
I had been noticing the same thing.
He stated that reading was a focus building practice. And he wanted, like I did, to do that more.
So instinctively, I agreed with him. But why?
Why was reading a better choice?
Was that thinking outdated?
Maybe that's the equivalent of insisting we use horses for transportation. Horses are naturally more beautiful than cars and they don't have us relying on foreign countries for oil. In addition, cars go too fast and, as a result, we miss a lot.
According to Nicholas Carr, “We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts, in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information.”
We make trade-offs.
And that’s why we drive cars instead of horses. In time, problems get addressed and voila—the electric car is on the frontier.
Tony Schwartz gives suggestions on how to limit the amount of time you spend on your phone, and in fact, I was ahead of him in that I had my phone far away from me, on purpose, as I read the newspaper Sunday morning.
But these are short-lived solutions. This doesn’t really address the problem.
If there is a problem.
Maybe things are the way they are supposed to be.
Maybe trying to stay off our devices is a pointless fight against change and modernization.
But in the last few paragraphs of Schwartz’s article, he gets me.
He depicts a scene.
He recounts how he saw a father and his four-year-old daughter at a restaurant. The father is on his phone and his daughter cannot get his attention.
In my opinion, this scenario illustrates our biggest loss.
I’ll bet that father wouldn’t dream of bringing a book to the restaurant. It would be socially awkward and unacceptable. But his phone—no problem.
I’d like to say there is a time and a place for everything (because that’s what my mother would say) but when something is compulsive, it is compulsive. There are no boundaries.
We are scrolling ourselves into oblivion and the key here, and what makes these behaviors, or advancements, different than others, is its addictive component.
We are in denial (Denial= Don't Even Notice I Am Lying) or at least I was until my daughter finally got my attention.
I was scared and unsure:
Would people like what I wrote and how I wrote it?
Was I ready for the world of social media?
What if I made a grammatical mistake?
Well, I did make errors. Some I was able to fix, others I wasn’t.
And remarkably, I survived.
Reader comments kept me going.
Some of you responded directly on the blog site, some on Facebook, some on Instagram, some by private text message and many in person: at the grocery store, at parties and on the street.
(You’d be surprised how many people are hesitant to comment through social media. I was happy to learn, I wasn’t the only inhibited one.)
Tuesdays became my favorite day of the week as I woke to other bloggers liking my post and tracking how many people had read.
I heard from people I hadn’t talked to in 20 years, from people all over the country and yes, even an old boyfriend.
My work was read in Australia, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Spain, France, Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Israel, Lebanon, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and more.
A special thanks goes to my friends and family who let me write about them, their outrageous stories and vulnerable moments.
All year, friends teased that they had to watch what they said in front of me for fear they’d end up in a post.
I heard everything from, “Shhh, she’s going to write about you” to “It’s good Corie’s not here.” (Yes, people repeat these things to me.)
Looking for material or attempting to drum up good conversation, this blog has been the impetus for many a dinner table debate.
Over the course of this year, I wrote about topics that mattered to me.
Equal rights- Gay Marriage
Empathy- Still Alice
Parenting- Parenting Gone Well
Friendship- Friendship Matters
Sex- Masters of Sex
Education- Doodle Power
Addiction- Monkey See, Monkey Do
Writing- Writing: It Could Come Back to Bite You.
The Environment- Earth Day 2015.
I wrote about topics that peturbed me slightly- Pouting Face Emoji
And things that annoyed me greatly- A Tip for My Uber Driver.
And things I feared- Fear: The Good The Bad and The Ugly.
Writing about these topics made me focus on them, and in writing Gone Girl No More, I faced my apprehension, put myself out there, and finally got headshots!
Daring greatly (I'm a Brene Brown lover) I'm posting them here.
Help me choose the new From The Core photograph so I can get rid of the blurry one on my About Page.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of the night my husband asked me to marry him so this is kind of a double anniversary for me.
And it’s appropriate that my blog about relationships and my marriage share an anniversary because as long as I’m married to my husband, I’ll always have plenty to write about!
P.S. Thanks for reading!! And don’t forget to pick a headshot favorite!!
Why You’re Not Married, written by Tracey McMillan went viral.
Marriage Isn’t For You, written by Seth Adam Smith went viral. It has over 30 million views!
Both Tracey and Seth have book deals, and Tracey was on Oprah!
At the time of his post, Seth had been married for only a year and a half. Tracey’s been married 3 times.
Okay, I’m happy for them. Really I am. And I’m not suggesting they don’t have anything to share or teach; but come on, I’ve been married for 32 years!
If staying together is the goal (which I guess is questionable as far as goals go) I’ve got the credentials. I’m the one who should have a marriage essay read by millions. I should be on Oprah.
I mean really, where are the people who’ve been in long-term marriages? They’re actually not on Oprah.
Exception: Harville Hendrix, author of Getting the Love You Want. He’s great, and his book is awesome, and he’s been on Oprah a number of times; but we need more role models. Good ones.
Because marriage is getting a bad rap.
People are choosing not to get married at all, as in NEVER. Or they talk about first marriages like it’s a bachelor degree, something they will eventually move on from in order to pursue a second marriage, their graduate degree.
There are some misconceptions I’d like to clear up:
Long-term marriage doesn’t mean 10 years. Ten years is a phase, a bleep in a life, like adolescence. Long-term means you go through all the developmental stages together: playing house, raising children, growing old, facing health issues, dying. A lifetime.
A partner is not someone who stays home changing diapers and cooking you dinner while you pursue every dream you ever had.
Respecting each other’s differences doesn’t mean you’re awesome because you don’t change the music when The Carpenters are on and you prefer Eric Clapton. (Okay, full disclosure- that’s my house.)
And monogamy is a full-time job. If you do it part-time there’s less insurance and fewer benefits.
Look, I’m not judging. My philosophy is that everyone should be happy. And what would make me really happy is to have my marriage essay, or any of my essays for that matter, go viral!
But back to my initial question: If marriage is on the decline why are essays with marriage as a keyword wildly popular?
Why was Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus on the topseller list for 121 weeks?
Why is the book, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts a hit?
Why are we watching Dr. Phil? Broken Nose, Broken Marriage. Dr. Phil, Save My Marriage, Save My Life.
Why when I saw a friend on Facebook had taken a test that told her who she was married to in her past life, I was intrigued? I shouldn’t have cared but she got Jim Morrison. I wanted Jim.
I thought about taking the test but worried I’d get Barry Manilow.
I had to know.
I took the test.
And I got John Lennon. I couldn’t have been happier. He’s a peace-loving artist. And he’s cool.
You’d think I had better things to do with my time like write a really great marriage essay. One that would go viral. But no. I needed to know who my fantasy husband from a different life might’ve been.
Here’s what I think. Even though marriage is on the decline, for many of us, a fascination exists. There are things we want to know about relationship: how to make it last, how to make it better, how to fix what’s broken. Aha! The “in” for my marriage essay- When Your Marriage Breaks.
Maybe it’s physiological or sociological or biological or historical but there is something in us that yearns to unlock the mystery of marriage. We want to get it right.
Granted, I’ve never been on Oprah but here’s my marriage advice: Relationships have their rough spots and you have to figure out how to navigate those moments like jujutsu.
For example: when your spouse stops listening to you when you talk, (which is inevitable, even if temporary) start writing.
And pray it goes viral.