Sunday, April 5, 2015

He gave up social media and alcohol for Lent. What he did next blew my mind.

No, it actually won't blow your mind. And if you're the type of person who read this solely for the ridiculous cliffhanger title, I hate you on principle. I did give up social media and alcohol for 40 days, but I doubt my insights will blow anyone's mind. I'm also not going to list said insights for you (i.e. The 7 Things I Learned from Letting Go of Facebook). Quit being an asshole and expecting people to tell you how many paragraphs you have to read. Ok, not giving any frame of reference considering the global 10-second attention span is rude. This should take you about five minutes to read. Happy?

I love Lent. Seriously. I give something up every year. Lent is an awesome exercise in self evaluation and control. What do I not need in my life, that I feel like I need? Diet coke, meat, scary movies, smoking, cheese, fried food, fast food, and even running have been on the chopping block. This past year I came to terms with my identity as a social media whore and wine-o. Are some people bigger social media whores than me? Do I drink about as much as an average person drinks? Probably, but it's these justifying questions that made me choose them for Lent.

Alcohol is super gross. It must be masked with so many juices to be a pleasurable experience for me. Even wine I drink purely for the feelings, and I choose that because it tastes slightly less like hairspray. Same with whiskey. I also like wheat beer, but that's more an emotional connection to Germany.

Also, being drunk is awesome, but hangovers are very much not. When I first started drinking, hangovers did not exist. I drank whatever I wanted and was fine. Then gin happened. To drink so much acrid tasting fluid to feel awesome for a brief time and then horrible for an entire weekend, is idiocy on my part. I kept asking people if I should go to the emergency room, convinced I felt the death struggle upon me.

Alcohol was much easier to give up than social media. For the above mentioned reasons, after a couple days without it, I wondered why I'd been drinking so much. I have more energy, feel like I'm doing better at work, and I'm saving money. There are people I like to go out and drink with, but there are many who don't drink that I have fun with. I don't want to be a person that needs a drink to enjoy myself.

Social media is super awesome. It helps me stay in touch with people all over the world that I really care about. Sure I could take the time to write a letter, or even better, visit. But it's nice keeping them in my day-to-day life too. I get to keep up with my friend Ben in England, and chat with him about vacationing in Europe. It's awesome seeing my friends in Vermont, enjoying the snow with their kids or significant others. I love hard and hate when someone goes beyond out of sight, to out of mind.

Social media is also quite annoying. Cliffhanger titles: "You won't believe what happened next." Bitch, yes I will. They made a fucking snowman out of sock. THAT'S the shocking twist? Lists: "The 27 Things Only Return Missionaries with Lisps will Understand." Just go to hell already with the lists. Everyday selfies: If you're making a progression video for your funeral montage, keep the everyday details to yourself. Let us see the finished product all at once.

Everyone has their annoyances on Facebook or Instagram, I won't keep going on about mine.

Wait, one more. People saying idiotic things. This gem about the Five Dissenting Votes in LDS General Conference prompted a slew of crap. A few friends posted similar sentiments to: "I think people have a right to oppose things, I just think there is a time and place to do it-and the time and place to do it is not in general assembly." Why do they even ask if there are any opposed, if no one should say anything?! You can't actually be that stupid. "It was very sad to me to see that evil is coming in and people are doubting, losing their faith." Just because they doubt the leadership, does not mean they doubt their faith. The two are not mutually exclusive, dickhead. And it doesn't make someone evil to question their church. That's how and why Joseph Smith founded Mormonism.

Rant over. Three deep breathes. Despite all that annoying stuff, social media was probably the hardest thing I've given up, and I want to know what that means. It's good to want to stay in touch, a little scary feeling out of touch without it. How do I find the balance between connected and social media whore?

Consumption is my choice. If I'm getting tired with all the tripe people post, I can read more of my book or news. I'm the conscious consumer, I'm not being forced to consume as much as I did. True of other "social media fast" posts I've read, I text and called more people. I can stop being a dickhead, and check it without living by it.

I'm one of the producers; I feed the feed. Why do I post - is it to remember things or is it so I feel like I matter? I do love screening my timeline occasionally to remember parts of life, but I also like the likes. And the comments, and the shares. I post to social media so much because its part of how I convince myself I matter.

So what I learned about giving up social media is no different from all the previous Lent epiphanies. Alcohol isn't bad in and of itself. Having too much and being a douche bag are bad. Social media isn't bad in and of itself. Placing too much stock in it is bad. Life is still fun without alcohol, and life still exists outside social media. Maybe it took too many paragraphs to get here or the notion doesn't blow your mind, but reminding myself every Lent helps me be a little less of an asshole.