My Positive Approach to Hurtful Online Comments & Why They Don’t Faze Me

Digital Dilemma, Self-Help

I’m happy to announce that my website has it’s very first internet troll! Yep, you read that right.

As of February 19, 2019, my blog, Lost Online, received its first random and unwarranted negative comment, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I promise I’m not crazy, and I don’t enjoy fighting with strangers on the internet! It’s just that I have a much different perspective when it comes to online trolls than most people.

For starters, you know what a troll is, right? They’re shadow people who lurk around the internet and wait for an opportunity to whip up a mean comment that has the potential to ruin someone’s day and destroy a person’s confidence in just a few flicks of their fingers and the click of a button.

You see, we live in a time where technology has made it so incredibly easy for us to have, do, or say whatever we please, without any repercussions. People would NEVER say the things in person that they say to each other online. Because if you did walk around treating people like that, you’d be hit with a restraining order and charged with harassment. But something about typing up mean comments on the internet, seems like it’s not real to people. And it seems like it doesn’t really count. Like somehow it’s not really them. The internet also makes trolls so much braver and callous because it allows anyone to make up a random username and hide behind it. Before the internet, if you wanted to ruin someone’s day, you couldn’t do it from behind your keyboard and in the comfort of your own home. You actually had to have the balls to walk up to someone and say whatever you were thinking to their face and then deal with the real life consequences that follow.

But today, mean comments have become a bit of an epidemic, and it’s one of the biggest challenges that the internet has brought to us. It’s caused teenagers to take their own lives, it’s ruined careers, and it’s broken up families. Nasty comments seem so harmless to the person who’s leaving them. And I’m pretty confident that maybe internet trolls even view it as a game. Unfortunately, it can come with consequences.

In my case, someone found my blog, read a post, saw an opportunity to comment something nasty, and typed it up for me to have a nice little surprise at 6:30 am before I walked out the door for work. But I would be willing to bet my life, that the person who left it would NEVER walk up to me in person and say to my face what was so easy for them to say online.

Now, this view may seem strange given how wrong I think cyberbullying is, but I was actually happy to see this comment appear. Here’s why…

1. It was bound to happen

December 2018 is when I got serious about blogging. I was no longer treating my blog like a hobby, I was treating it like a side hustle or a new business. I had an amazingly talented photographer to help me, I was now whipping up content every week and promoting my blog on every one of my social media platforms. When I made that decision to pursue blogging seriously, I knew that negative online comments were bound to come my way.

That’s the time we live in now. It’s unavoidable. By putting yourself out into the world, sharing your stories and voicing your opinions, you’re going to attract at least a little bit of criticism, judgement and jealousy. I knew it wasn’t a matter of “if” I would someday get negative comments, it was just a matter of time. I didn’t feed those thoughts and give them my energy to manifest, I just simply knew that as a content creator, it was going to happen. It’s an occupational hazard.

With that thought in mind, I made the decision that someday when I did get a negative comment on my blog, I would make it as positive of an experience as I could. I was going to be happy about it! Why? Well, why should I waste my time being upset over a person I’ve never met? If that many people are finding my blog to the point where I start receiving all types of comments, both positive and negative, both supportive and mean, that means I must be doing something right! People are finding me and they’re taking the time to read what I have to say.

If I’m creating enough content to attract mean strangers, then I should be proud of myself! I have over 30 blog posts by now, 600 plus Instagram posts, and 8,000 viewers on Pinterest. I put a lot of hard work into what I do and I’m constantly pumping out graphics, posts, or pictures somewhere. So statistically speaking, I’m bound to get some haters based on the amount of work I’m doing online. If I didn’t attract some sort of feedback at some point, I’d be worried.

2. In order to be a successful content creator, you have to “attract or repel”

I like to follow well-known blogger, podcaster and influencer Jenna Kutcher. She’s an incredible person who has built a following of over 2 million by educating people about how to grow their brand, become a successful content creator and make money doing what you love. One thing that Kutcher always shares is that as a creator, your brand has to “attract or repel” the people that click on your website or social media. If you talk to anyone who is a successful business person, they’ll say the same thing just in different words.

So why is this? Why would I want to repel people, Heather?! I want people to like me!

Because in order to become successful, you need a niche. That means that your message appeals to a small, specific, specialized sub-group of the greater population that shares the same interests as you do. This may seem strange, but in order to make meaningful connections with people, you must zero in on a specific market that you’re going to speak to. By speaking very broadly to a large population of billions of people, you inherently connect to no one. However, by blogging to a very specific group of people with a unique set of interests, you actually end up reaching more people.

So that’s the long-winded way of me sharing that my message is both attracting like-minded people AND repelling the ones that don’t align with my message. So, I must be doing something right!

One of my favorite quotes that I’ve shared in a previous blog post, “How I Freed Myself From the Opinions of Others,” is: “You could be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, but there will always be someone who doesn’t like peaches.” And you’ll probably hear me share that again at some point.

3. Every successful person gets hate comments

The third reason why I was happy to see this negative comment appear one morning is because every single successful podcaster, blogger, YouTuber, and influencer gets negative comments. Regularly. It’s part of their daily life. They have so many freaking eyes on what they do that obviously mean, envious, and unhappy people are going to see their work at some point. It’s not like the nice people and the mean people live in two separate worlds that are invisible to each other!

Back in January, I actually told myself, “I’ll know that I’ve made it once I get a hate comment.” I think I even voiced it to Matt, too. Not because I want to read terrible comments about myself, but because I knew it was bound to happen the moment my story started to appear on screens all over the world. Receiving a nasty comment here and there shows that I’m making progress, I’m being seen. With how many posts I have and how many readers are starting to show up, at some point one of my posts with strike a nerve with some people, even though that’s not my intention.

4. If you’re not pissing people off, you’re doing something wrong

Seriously, if you’re not upsetting at least someone out there you’re doing something wrong. Anything worth living for is going to make people mad. Quitting your 9-5 to pursue a dream is going to piss your parents off. Marching with a sign during a protest to create a change in your community is going to make smoke come out of someone’s ears. Standing up and saying, “I’m a woman and I deserve to have the rights to my body.” Yeah, that will make more than a few people angry. Losing 40 pounds and getting a six pack is going to make your haters hate you even more. Becoming a famous celebrity who earns $30 million a year, yeah someone will hate you for that too. Or even just opening yourself up online and being super vulnerable in a blog post in hopes of helping people struggling with similar issues, that will make someone angry too.

If you lived your life to make other people happy, you would literally never accomplish anything. You’d never make any progress, you would never grow, and the only words you could speak would be please and thank you.

In one of my posts, “Thoughts after one year of being a blogger,” I shared something about myself that I was not proud to admit. I shared that there was a beautiful, positive wellness blogger that I knew who I was extremely envious of. She was very similar to me and decided to pursue her dream of being a blogger. So she built her website, inspired people, posted beautiful photos, and shared her story. And it made me mad! Because I dreamt of being a blogger for FIVE YEARS but I was too petrified of what someone would think to actually do it. And there she was, just living her best life and going for it. (And no, I don’t feel that way anymore in case you were wondering).

Anyone who really goes for what makes them happy or really tries to create positivity in the world is bound to take harsh comments and envious stares from others. Because while most people are good, everyone has those not-so-wonderful sides of themselves. The sides that we don’t want people to know about, the sides that you’d never even know existed.

So when someone posted a hateful comment on my blog about my love story, it didn’t faze me. Me falling in love with my boyfriend upset someone! And I’m not going to live the rest of my life refusing to be in a relationship because there will be some sad, lonely person out there who gets angry at the fact that I’m in a happy relationship.

5. They picked me!

One of the reasons why I was happy to see this little, mean comment is because an online troll decided, for whatever reason, to waste their precious energy and mental capacity on my website! They could have spent that time on anything else, insulting any other person, on any other blog. But they chose me! How nice of them.

It really is flattering in a way. Think about that next time someone direct messages you or leaves a mean comment. There’s something that’s so special about you, they had to focus on you to direct their insecurity. You’re doing so well in life that people see their own insecurities mirrored in you.

Again, this was not at all my intention! But why not be flattered that they took the time to comment on my post rather than let it bring me down?

6. It inspired the blog post that you’re reading right now!

The fifth and final reason this comment was a blessing is because it inspired this post! It inspired me to spend my day writing – the one thing that I love most! It inspired 2,500 words to flow effortlessly from my fingertips. It actually broke a bit of writers block I was having the last two weeks! Thank you, mysterious online stranger for providing me with inspiration and fresh content! I, and the readers of Lost Online, appreciate you.

Lastly, I just want to leave you with a few takeaways.

Take a good look at your actions and your habits and see if they align with what you really want from life. The person who left me the comment I’m writing about today has a very positive blog all about the Law of Attraction. If you know anything about the Law of Attraction, that’s not how it works! That angry, negative message is the exact opposite of what you will learn from any book, blog, or documentary about manifestation.

-Second, the best way to get anywhere is life is by making connections, talking to other people who share the same passions as you and by being supportive. Not by tearing other people down. That’s adulting and good-human-ing 101.

-Third, and a tip for bloggers out there – you have the ability to set up your blog in the back end so that all comments have to be approved by you! I automatically hit “delete” to any negative comments or spam that people leave me. On my homepage, I said that I started this blog to be a safe haven in cyberspace for myself and like-minded people, so I will always make it a point to clear out all of that negativity, so you don’t have to see it! And I recommend you do that too. This world needs more love, support, positivity and less judgement and cruelty. Isn’t life hard enough as it is without getting insults in your inbox?

And finally, this is not an open invitation to roast me. I do have a positive outlook on hateful comments because I know that those words come from a place of deep insecurity and unhappiness. However, that doesn’t mean I like hearing mean things about me. No one does. So, when you leave this post or this site today, remember to be kind.

I will not be sharing a whole blog post every time I get a negative comment, but I wanted to share this message about cyberbullying in hopes that it will a) remind people to be nice b) show people how pathetic it is to leave mean comments online because you would never do it in person c) give you a positive outlook if you receive or have been affected by trolls d) be an example for people who are terrified about what others think and take outside opinions to heart.

“If speaking kindly to plants helps them grow, imagine what speaking kindly to humans can do.” – Tara Mackey

As always, thank you so much for coming to Lost Online and remember to tell me your thoughts in the comments! Have you ever dealt with negative comments or cyber bullying before? What was said? How did it affect you? What was your perspective on it? How do you think we should deal with this issue going forward? How should we monitor it? And should there by repercussions?

If you like what you read, remember to scroll down to the bottom of the page, hit that “+”, and fill in your email address to be sent weekly blog posts directly!

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Text Neck: How My Cell Phone Use Affected My Physical Development

Digital Dilemma, Health

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For those of you who are new to my site and are visiting for the first time, this blog is about the effects of digital media on us and how we can stay sane in a time when we’re living half of our lives online. I’m interested in many of the ways that digital media impacts us. For example, how things like photoshop and sites like Instagram distorts the perception of our bodies. But today, I want to share something that’s a little bit more serious and even darker than that… My phone and computer use affected my physical development.

My Story

When I was in high school, I started to notice that there was a part in my back that always felt like needed to be cracked. At first, I would have to crack the middle of my back once a day, but then it started to get even more frequent. I remember when I first started to have that problem I talked to my parents about how I wanted to see a chiropractor and they were 100% against it. They might have rather seen me dead than in the hands of a chiropractor. In their minds, chiropractors were as legitimate as an old homeless woman on the street corner offering $5 tarot card readings. So, as badly as I wanted to go, I finally had to let it go.

What started as that nagging feeling that bothered me all day had slowing spread to all other parts of my body over the course of ten years the longer it went untreated. It went to my hips, my upper back, my knees, my shoulders, and finally my neck. Eventually, it became worse than a nagging feeling of needing to crack my back and turned into a pain that I felt constantly. I tried yoga, essential oils, hot presses, ice, exercise, massages, you name it. Then one day I decided to get a massage in hopes that it would ease the pain, but it only made it much worse. As the therapist was working on my neck, I could tell that the pain was in my bones rather than my muscles. The top vertebrae in my neck were sticking out and causing inflammation and knots all around that area. But even then, I still let it go. I had been told my whole life that I shouldn’t see a chiropractor so I didn’t really see it as a possibility at that point and thought that I just had to deal with the pain. Eventually, my alignment issue became so painful that I couldn’t function normally. The only time I felt somewhat decent was if I was laying down in bed. Finally, the day came when I had no choice to seek help and find a chiropractor.

Seeking Help

My online searches brought me to a highly rated office called Lighthouse Chiropractic in Saint Augustine, Florida. I read through the reviews and found one by a woman who loved this office so much and found it to be so healing that she believed fate had brought her to Lighthouse Chiropractic. I will never forget that I picked up my phone and left a voicemail for a consultation appointment while I was laying on the floor crying from neck and back pain. To this day, I’m still embarrassed by that voicemail and I wonder if they had ever noticed that I was choking back tears and trying to manage my shaking voice while I left my name and number.

After a day, they called me back and we set up a consultation. That first visit was spent getting all sorts of x-rays and other tests done to figure out what exactly was going on. I mostly sat in a room wearing an ugly gown and wondering what it all was supposed to show. The next visit I came back to go over it all with the Chiropractor, Dr. Adam Podzra (He goes by Dr. Adam so that’s how I’ll refer to him in this post), and discuss a plan for treatment. He walked me through all the different scans which showed him that the areas I always felt like I had to crack were completely inflamed. There was no wonder why I was in so much pain, bad alignment was causing my bones to poke out and cause soreness in my muscles. He also learned that my body is always in a state of fight or flight. I always had just thought that I was “a worrier,” but apparently it’s a bit worse than that.

Eventually, Dr. Adam showed me my x-rays, and I’ll never forget it. The first time I saw my alignment problems on an x-ray I wanted to cry. To him, it was nothing out of the ordinary, but for me it was scary. I was just a couple degrees away from having scoliosis so my spine looked like it was curving and pulling my hip up. My spine was also slightly twisted, and last but not least, my neck had developed straight up and down – a problem known as “Text Neck.” Here is my x-ray below.↡

heavyphoneusetextneckimage

What is Text Neck?

So you might be thinking, “Duh, isn’t your neck supposed to go straight up and down?” Actually no. If you look at an x-ray of a “healthy” neck, it has a nice curve it in- kind of like the shape of C. But my neck has developed “like a stair stepper,” as Dr. Adam would say. It looks like it’s in a straight line with no curve at all. It’s caused by us constantly looking down at computers, tablets, and cell phones. This misalignment is also referred to as a vertebral subluxation.

Side Note: All of the information I’m sharing and quoting in this post is directly from documents Dr. Adam has sent me so I can learn more about this issue. One is called, “The Cervical Curve: Structure, Function, and Human Health,” and the other is called, “Occupational Health, Safety, and Chiropractic.” Both were written by a man named Keith Wassung, a Chiropractic Advocate.

So what does this mean? “Vertebral subluxations cause nerve interference which diminished the inherent healing potential of the human body. Subluxations have been documented to cause a variety of health problems including headaches, migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, TMJ, sinus infections, ear infections, vertigo, allergies, asthma, thyroid conditions, sinusitis, arm pain, shoulder pain, hormonal imbalance, insomnia, fibromyalgia, and many others.” And I have almost all of those wonderful things. “Vertebral subluxations are often referred to as the “silent killer” because they destroy the health and healing process of the human body long before the presence of any symptoms.”

Over time this leads to something even more exciting called spinal degeneration. What is spinal degeneration? “Spinal degeneration is the gradual and progressive breakdown of vertebral joints and related structures due to long-standing misalignments or vertebral subluxations, caused by deterioration of the intervertebral disc, bad posture, or a variety of traumatic injuries. When left uncorrected these spinal misalignments cause abnormal biomechanics which erode joint surfaces.

So if you’re like me and you don’t want that to happen to you, you have to invest in seeing a Chiropractor. “Doctors of Chiropractic detect and correct vertebral subluxations by physically adjusting the spine to restore normal spinal functions and balance which allows the nervous system to send and receiver information. This allows the inherent healing potential of the body to best express itself.”

Ok, Heather. Why Should I Care?

So this misaligned happens due to accidents, injuries, childhood falls you may not even remember, and even the birth process. But another big cause of it is poor posture, which almost everyone has now. In our modern lifestyle, we’re always looking at some screen, watching a show, scrolling through Instagram, online shopping, writing a blog, sitting at a computer all day at work, etc. This head in a forward posture can add up to 30 pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine (particularly in the area where I always felt like I had to crack my back) and causing alignment to get out of whack. Also, if you really feel like having nightmares tonight, then you should know that it can also deplete our lung capacity and smush gastrointestinal organs. How f*cking scary?!

This is so important to talk about because there are now millions of children growing up with the internet. I nannied for parents who gave their 2, 3, or 4 years old their own iPads. I see little kids with cell phones. My neck developed straight up and down, and I didn’t even start to use the internet heavily until I was in high school. Children now are using this technology every. single. day. I just know that years from now every single one of them is going to wake up one morning and discover that the reason they’re in pain all the time is that their bones have been deteriorating. But by the time that happens, it will be too late to help them.

In the last couple of years more people are coming forward and talking about how digital media impacts their mental health, but there hasn’t been much a discussion about how it impacts physical health. I’m hoping that this blog post acts as a warning to other people who, like me, have spent years consumed by my devices. Let’s talk about this problem now and put an end to “Text Neck.”

Stay tuned for posts in the future about how I treated Text Neck at home and my progress after being under Chiropractic care for 7 months.

Thank you for reading Lost Online and as always, let me know what you think in the comments! What are your thoughts on Text Neck? Do you have Text Neck? Do you see a Chiropractor and has it helped you with this issue? Have you set any restrictions for your tablet, phone, or computer use?

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

How Social Media Has Made Us Immortal

Digital Dilemma
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If you’ve been to my blog before, then you know that I wrote a lot about social media and all of the downsides of it. I started this blog over a year ago because I wanted to write about how my growing up online affected my self-esteem and happiness, and discuss the ways that I believe we can stay sane while regularly using the internet. I decided to open up publicly about my experience because I believed that this was an issue that the majority of people my age are dealing with. As humans, we naturally compare ourselves to others, whether we want to or not. People have done this throughout all of history, but today my generation has a very unique challenge as social media has intensified this behavior. It’s especially a challenge in high school and college when you’re still trying to find yourself and discover your purpose. We all share the pressure for getting likes and to craft the perfect online profile.

A lot of us have experienced it for years, ever since Facebook first became popular, but in the last few years, it’s become acceptable to actually come out and talk about it, instead of dealing with it in private. Since then, there has been so much talk about the negative effects of social media and internet use. That’s the viewpoint I usually take when I write about social media, and I still stand by everything that I’ve shared previously. However, today I wanted to talk about a slightly different perspective that I’ve been taking when I think about the role this technology has played in my life.

Technology and Immortality

This post was inspired because I love watching documentaries about ancient civilizations and because I also listen to a podcast called “Stuff You Missed In History Class.” I’m not usually a history buff, but hearing about ancient civilizations that existed thousands of years ago, is so fascinating to me. Through these documentaries and podcasts, I’m so amazed by what historians and archeologists can discover from people that existed so long ago. But whenever, I’m learning about a particular civilization in one of these episodes, I have noticed that as much as historians have been able to discover, there is so history that is left up to opinions, theories, and personal interpretation. There is so much that we don’t know. We’ll never know what life was really like back then, and what a normal person’s day-to-day life would have looked like. Looking back that far, we can do our best to analyze art and architecture, but there’s so much mystery surrounding what people were actually like in a different time.

Which got me thinking about what an incredible time we live in now. For my generation, in particular, we were the first ones to grow up online, but we can still remember what life was like without the internet, back when our parents couldn’t just shove an iPad in our face. We now live with social media every day and we constantly document our lives. We document everything from our clothes, to our values, music tastes, brands we like, foods we eat, who we voted for, and what social events we go to.

If you think about it, we have made ourselves immortal.

It used to be that only the kings, the queens, the famous inventors, the artists, the philosophers, the explorers, the founding fathers, the presidents, the human rights activists, etc. were written about and remembered throughout time. And historically, the “winners” (the rich, the powerful, and the famous) always write history. Meaning, that we might not ever know what really happened. Although there were some regular individuals like ourselves who did keep journals or lifelong autobiographies, not all of them have made it through generations and were carefully persevered and many of the journals that survived have been seen by few. Only the stories of the key figures throughout history have been published.

For my generation, we post everything online. We are constantly sharing our experiences, opinions, and milestones that people hundreds and thousands of years from now will be able to see and learn from. However, in conversations, we normally talk about how weird it is to always be posting online, and we judge people who share too many statuses, tweets, stories, or photos. But I think we’ve forgotten what an incredible blessing this technology is.

Our great-great-great-great-grandchildren will be able to discover our old profiles and blogs, and learn about who we are! How amazing is that? I don’t even know my great-great-grandparents’ names, let alone what they were like, what they were passionate about, or what they did for fun. Have you seen those ancestory.com commercials where some woman is able to figure out who her great-great-grandparent is and discover a random piece of paper that he signed? Have you seen how excited those people are in their testimonial that they get to have that little piece of information to give them insight about their ancestors? Imagine how amazing it would be to read their tweets, see the highlights from their lives, discover what they cared about, and learn about their daily lives. Wouldn’t that be so amazing to have all that information about our ancestors?

Future generations will be able to have those insights and that knowledge about us. They’ll be able to discover so many details about us, like who we were friends with. Hell, I bet they’ll even be able to find the old resumes we uploaded on LinkedIn a million years before that! (Ok, maybe not a million.) Historians will not have to say, “We don’t know much about this person…” or, “We don’t know why exactly _______ happened.” The content that we constantly create will be accessible, and someday be used to write history books. There won’t be so much mystery, confusion, or myths.

Remember the quote, “Let them eat cake,” which Marie Antoinette famously did not say? That can’t happen now, because everything is immediately tweeted, blogged about, or talked about in YouTube videos. It’ll leave so much less confusion years from now when historians go to make sense of important events. For example, every stupid thing that Trump has ever said or done to upset all of America (and humanity) is documented in a million ways… although he seems to be unaware of it. Did I just compare Donald Trump to Marie Antoinette??? I hope not. Poor Marie Antoinette.

Why This Matters

I wanted to share this with you today because there is so much talk on and offline, about how terrible social media is, how addicting it is, and what a waste of time it is. Yes, I know I contribute to it. And yes, that’s all still true. But here we all are… continuing to share our selfies on Instagram anyways! The point is that social media can be unhealthy if it’s not used carefully, but maybe it’s time to stop the constantly sh*t-talking social media.

Social media has caused so much drama and emotional stress in my life. It’s lead to countless family feuds, loss of friends, and a whole lot of self-comparison. BUT, it’s also brought me new friends, new opportunities, a way to document my experiences, and a way to express myself. It’s not all evil. I also want to add that every single generation has their own challenge. This one is just a challenge unique to our generation in this particular time in history.

The idea that normal people like you and me can take photos of our daily lives, share our lives online, and publish blogs with our thoughts and personal stories, is incredible. We’ll live on in history long after we’ve passed. We’ve made ourselves immortal. What an incredible blessing that is.

So if you’re one who bashes social media and the internet, or judges people for always posting, or feels guilty when they use social media – I challenge you to change your perspective. Reflect on how wonderful it is that we have these tools to communicate –  not just with each other, but with future generations too.

Thank you for reading! As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments! Do you think the internet has made us immortal? Do you view this as a blessing or a curse? And did this post help you to view social media in a slightly different way? 

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Social Media and Finding Your “Thing”

Digital Dilemma

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I challenge you to go to anyone’s Instagram feed right now who you follow. It could be any friend or any content creator and I promise you that you will spot a theme. There will be a clear theme, colors, and captions that all go together. It’s aesthetically pleasing, and most of us appreciate the hard work that someone puts into their Instagram by taking the time to create an account carefully and thoughtfully. But what I’ve realized in the last few weeks is that you could literally put anyone into a category based on what you see on their Instagram feed. That guy is the one who does pottery in Utah… that girl is the yoga instructor from Hawaii… that girl is the Instagram model… that girl is the travel blogger… that guy does surf photography… the girl can do awesome hairstyles… that is the blonde vegan girl… I’m sure you get the idea. There is always an obvious theme that places that person in a certain category.

Strategically speaking, this makes sense. In order to attract followers, you want to have an aesthetic/a theme/a niche. You use certain colors, post about certain topics and slowing craft an online image for yourself so that like-minded people will follow. It makes sense in terms of growing your account and getting the glorified engagement that everyone thirsts for.

Unfortunately, yet another problem with social media is that we have all of these young people growing up online and following all of these celebrities and “content creators” who all have a strong theme, profession, and aesthetic. These young adults follow them, see their photos all of the time, and then being to internally struggle with the question, “What is my thing?” Am I going to be “the surfer”, “the makeup artist”, “the cook”, “the photographer?” But what happens is by choosing a theme, we place ourselves in a category, and that category bleeds into other areas of our lives as well. For example, the vegan girl from Hawaii now has long blonde hair, wears flowy bohemian pants, gets tattoos of waves and seashells, and places herself more and more into that specific persona.

This did happen well before social media too, but now it’s amplified because of the time spent online, and because we now have “content creators” running the show. But now, this persona or theme, whatever you want to call it, is very carefully crafted and then blasted out to the massive internet world so that anyone, anywhere can click on our “profile” and say “that is a ____fill in the blank_____.” When my generation started out of social media as teenagers, none of us had a theme. I remember slowly watching everyone’s persona grow stronger and stronger as time went on. I kept thinking about why this happens in the first place. Why this switch went off in our heads back when we were growing up that we have to find our “thing” that we would be known for by all of our friends, followers, and family. After sitting with this for a while, I came up with a few reasons why I think that young adults have this experience and how it leaves us so vulnerable to the unhealthy effects of social media.

1. Vulnerability

As a teenager or a young adult, you are already vulnerable and impressionable. You have a young, developing mind that soaks in all of the information surrounding you like a sponge, and you try your best to understand it. It’s why so many young women have eating disorders because they see Instagram models, girls on magazines, and sex icons on tv with a waist that’s smaller than their head. So they think “I should look like this.” Humans naturally go through this phase, because it’s all part of growing up. Consuming constant images of people who are sexy, well-traveled, popular, and photoshopped play on that vulnerability and makes it worse.

2. Finding your place

Another part of this growing up process involves trying to find your place in this world. Again, this is natural and is not a product of social media. Young adults go through several years of growth and self-discovery while they try to figure out “this thing called life.” What is different, is that today, we all go through this transformation publicly in front of anyone who decides to become loyal followers and watch our lives unfold online. People in my generation publicly went through these stages and documented themselves searching for their place in the world, one day, one week, one year, and one decade at a time. Anyone who followed us, witnesses as we went through various stages of self-discovery to find a place and carefully craft the person we became today, for good or for bad.

3. Leaving a mark

Similarly to finding one’s place in the world, it’s natural to want to leave a mark. Even as a teenager and young adult, we realize that the human life is not very long and we wonder what is the purpose of life. So naturally, it’s ingrained in us that we want to leave some kind of a mark and we want to be known for something. We want to leave behind photos, books, blogs, art, even a change. Although most people don’t realize this, the way that we post on social media is a natural reaction to wanting to leave an impression on the world and on people. To say, “Hi I’m here, this is what I’m about.”

4. Acceptance

Of course, the need for belonging, love, and acceptance has to be mentioned as part of the young adult experience. It’s even on Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. Right after we have food, water, oxygen, and safety, we have to feel loved. This need for belonging and social acceptance is magnified so strongly on social media. Because we can see just how accepted and liked we are in a little pink notification that shows up in the form of a number. You are liked by “150” people today. 150 people pressed a button because they like your photo… congratulations.

Which remind me of something I heard this week in a podcast, “Your Own Magic.” One of my girl crushes is Allie Michelle, a yogi, and poet living in Hawaii, who also has this beautiful podcast with her “soul twin” Raquelle Mantra. In one of their episodes, Allie Michelle admits that even she has days where she’s feeling less than happy with herself and she turns to her community of a half a million Instagram followers for validation. She once said something in a podcast along the lines of “Has been worth been externally validated today? Ok, thank you internet world.” This is how it is for so many of us, no matter what age, gender, social status, sexuality, we all need to feel socially accepted and loved. And many of us do this by choosing a persona or theme and then having that validated by our followers. So, simply put, we conform based on what we see is well-received by our online community and we follow it through.

The issue is…

There are plenty of problems with social media that we can talk about. But the big problem with this specific “Digital Dilemma” as I call it, is that humans cannot fit into a category. Humans aren’t a product that you can pick up in a specific section in a department store. We are multi-faceted. We have completely different interests, hobbies, and goals. We have friends that all come from different backgrounds. We experience sadness, vulnerabilities, and hardships. We are very, very complex creatures and cannot be organized and stored with the help of a few containers and a label maker.

Although we try so hard to place ourselves in these categories for reasons mentioned above, it affects us on a day to day basis, AND on a much larger scale. I believe that by placing ourselves into categories, it keeps us from growing. It shuts off our minds to all the different possibilities in life. From opportunities, from different people that we could meet, and from different projects that we could pursue. Placing yourself in a box doesn’t give you much room to expand, to move around, and to try new things. It forces us to live a much smaller existence instead of wandering around experiencing new things and growing as much as possible. I wish that I would have had this realization earlier in life when I was first thrown into social media… but better late than never.

The point of this post is that it’s important to remember that you don’t have to be just one thing. You don’t have to be “the poet”, “the photographer”, “the yogi”, “the painter.” The irony is that people put themselves into categories to stand out and be unique, but what really makes us unique is leaving ourselves open. So if you’re reading this and you’ve noticed that you yourself have fallen victim to this “Digital Dilemma,” remind yourself that you can be free to be your authentic self. You can explore and try new things, even if it seems like it’s not your “thing” and if it’s outside of your persona. You don’t have to place yourself in a specific category and do just one thing for the rest of your life. You can have multiple passions and multiple interests.

Be you. Be curious. Be open.

Photographer: Kendid Visuals.

As always, please comment below if you’ve experienced this Digital Dilemma. How did you personally step outside of this idea that you had to find one thing that you were known for? What projects or hobbies did you start to pursue that maybe didn’t fit with what you thought you had to be?

Why I Started Blogging: Thoughts After One Year of Being “A Blogger”

Digital Dilemma

Heather Clark Headshot

I’m happy to share that Lost Online is officially one year old! Today I’m delighted because if I’m being completely honest, this is the longest I’ve ever kept a personal project going — just for the fun of it. Since I started this blog it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I feel like I’ve come into my own over the past year by creating this. Even though this website is read by few, it means so much to me. In honor of it being officially a one year old, I wanted to share the top ten reasons why I decided to start blogging in hopes it will inspire someone else to start their own personal blog!

Before Lost Online

I always knew that I wanted to have my own blog and I actually tried and failed several times over the course of five years. I had this crazy idea in my head that if I wanted to be a blogger, I had to do what all of the other female bloggers I read were doing: write about fashion and beauty or about travel. I also thought that if I was going to have my own blog that I had to be successful. Very successful. That this little platform of my own had to make enough money to support me and end up pulling in a six-figure salary someday. I didn’t realize that I could just do it for fun, I thought that if I had a blog I have to do it for work.

I got myself all worked up about what it had to be like and then I would dive into the world of blogging only to be left disappointed and confused. I didn’t know anything about SEO or earning money online, and I thought that if I were to be a blogger I had to have it all figured out. On top of that, I was so terrified of someone that I knew reading my blog and being judgmental about it. I would always hide my blogs and keep them a secret, or make sure that friends and family couldn’t accidentally find it. Not surprisingly, the motivation and inspiration that I had to start blogging would be crushed and I’d delete the website.

Eventually, after five years of making and deleting blogs, a series of events finally pushed me to stop being a chicken and actually go for it. I let go of all expectations and built this platform for me, just because I wanted to. Today, I’m not making money from my blog, I’m not a “professional blogger,” and I’m not suggesting that I have it all figured out. I’m just a girl who’s been writing for a whole year who is stupid passionate about it. This is my own experience with blogging and why I find it fulfilling.

1. It’s a portfolio

When I was in my Junior year of college at Flagler, I had a digital media teacher who I absolutely loved. She was one of those rare professors I had who was actually passionate about the subject matter and really wanted to help her students flourish. Her name was Mrs. Hill and almost every class period she would talk about why it’s so beneficial to have a blog. Mrs. Hill preached about how being in communications today, it’s helpful (and almost expected) that college graduates have a blog. In a blog, you can really show off to employers your talents, passions, and personal voice. So in the end, it can set you apart from other people who are applying for the same job.

Mrs. Hill also shared that having a blog shows that you’re the type of person who is dedicated and hardworking. That during your weeknights and weekends, you sit down and write articles just because you feel compelled to. The fact that every month you come back and continue to sit in the chair, write, and post articles for employers to read, shows a lot about what kind of worker you are.

Now, I’m not sharing this to sound like a career coach or a college professor, but those words were one of the key factors that lead me to create Lost Online. I wanted to do it for personal reasons and for creative reasons, but hearing Mrs. Hill talk about how writing a blog showed initiative was like getting a permission slip to follow a dream. Telling myself and others that I was doing it to make myself “hirable” made it acceptable and less scary.

2. Self-expression

For many years I felt that I needed a way to express myself creatively. I would see people who had ways of expressing themselves through pottery, poetry, designing homes, or anything else and I’d think about how desperately I wanted something like that of my own. I wanted some hobby that felt natural to me that I loved. So I decided to start blogging. But even then, when I started Lost Online, I didn’t realize how good it would feel. I didn’t know how natural it would feel to brainstorm ideas for blogs and write lengthy posts. I thought that after the initial excitement went away that it was going to feel like homework. Far from it.

It gave me a voice to talk about what I was interested in. I literally got to sit in a chair and ramble on my computer about digital media for my own entertainment. And although I have little to no followers on the blog, it still gave me a voice and an opportunity to share my ideas in a concrete way. Not just over a glass of wine with friends. Blogging helped me express my views to anyone who was willing to read and helped me figure myself out along the way.

3. It strengthens self-discipline

As much as I love to create new posts for Lost Online, I still go through spells where I’m feeling less than motivated or too busy to get back to writing. But I know that I have to. I care about what I create on here and I want to continue to see my content evolve and get better… for all 24 of my followers, lol. And now that I’m so attached to Lost Online, there’s no way that I could let it go. Which means that sometimes, even when I’m not feeling up to it, I have to make myself sit down and get to work. I have to knock out a few paragraphs or finally post a blog that’s been ready for a few days. I even have to go out of my way to take a photo for a specific post that I have coming up.

It’s taught me self-discipline that I didn’t have before. Sure, I was disciplined in school and work, but never with my own projects. I could get things done for a professor or for an employer with no problem, but I couldn’t do it for myself. Writing for Lost Online taught me that if something is important to me, I have to work, even if I’m not feeling motivated. I have to get my butt in the chair and do the work because no one is going to come to my rescue to do it for me or suddenly bestow upon me the gift of motivation.

4. Blogging makes people interesting

I always felt that people who blogged were interesting. Maybe because I felt like they were so sophisticated because they spend their free time writing that it meant they must have a rich inner life. They have so many wonderful ideas bursting out of them that they have to share it with the world. Right? That’s how I view other bloggers, but not how I see myself.

However, what I didn’t expect out of my personal experience, was how interested people would be when I tell them that I blog. When people ask me about my hobbies and interests and I tell them that I have a blog, their ears perk up. People become naturally curious about what I write about. I proudly tell them that Lost Online is about “how we stay sane during a time when we live half of our lives online,” (my own quote that I share anytime someone gives me the chance). And what I’ve noticed is that it always ends up leading to a meaningful conversation about digital media and how growing up online impacted them personally. This platform has lead to many interesting conversations which continue to expand my perspective.

An extra bonus is that employers that I network with or interview for are especially interested when they know that I write a blog. I’m assuming that it’s for the same reasons that Mrs. Hill always talked about. It shows that I’m motivated and hard-working.

5. A sense of accomplishment

Speaking of being hard-working and motivated. Another benefit of blogging that I’ve noticed was the lovely sense of accomplishment. It brings me so much satisfaction to sit down at my desk or at a coffee shop and see the words appear on the document. It brings even more satisfaction once I’ve finally edited it and hit that little green “Publish” button and watch it appear for the first time on my website. Every time I publish a post I can’t help but smile and think “I did that. I sat my a** down in my chair and worked on a post for hours and now it’s published.” No one made me do it. There was no deadline or obligation. I worked on an article for the pure joy of it, and now it’s finished.

It’s sort of like the feeling of finishing a book only 20 times better. And it’s not quite like finishing a paper for work or for school because I did it for myself and I put all of my creativity and my energy into it. You know that feeling! That feeling when you finishing a piece of art and can’t help but smile because of how happy and content you are that you made it. You did it solely for yourself and saw it through until the end. It’s that feeling of accomplishment.

6. It’s mine, no one else’s

Having a blog of my own means that I have my own space. It’s my own project. My own platform. I don’t have a boss, a partner, or a professor saying “No you can’t do that, change it.” No one could tell me that the picture I chose isn’t the best fit for my post, or my ending wasn’t satisfactory, or that it’s B average and could “use some work.”

I could ramble about whatever the hell I want to today and it doesn’t matter because there’s no one to police me. Nobody could tell me how to run this blog, because it’s mine. They can have opinions, yes, but they don’t have the power to make me change what I’m doing here. We spend our lives running around doing things for other people and trying to please our family, our co-workers, our partners, and our friends, but in a personal blog, you don’t have to! There’s something oddly empowering about it.

7. I was envious of bloggers

There’s a quote that I love by Susan Cain, who wrote the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” Cain said, “Pay attention to what you envy. Jealousy is an ugly emotion, but it tells the truth. You mostly envy those who have what you desire.” I always wanted to have my own blog, but the moment that I knew exactly how badly I wanted a blog was when another girl that I know (who I envied for other reasons) started her own blog and was excitedly promoting it on social media. I clicked on her blog and discovered that she was actually doing a great job and was writing posts that were interesting and engaging. She wasn’t making money from it, but she was a girl my age that I already compared myself to, who decided to pursue blogging.

I cannot describe the ridiculous amount of jealousy and green-eyed ugliness that washed over me when I first saw she started a blog. I’m ashamed to admit that some girl starting a personal blog was enough to put me in a tizzy, but it did. And that’s when I realized that clearly I really cared about this. That it’s a hard sign that I want to seriously pursue blogging. Even if no one looks at it but me, I would still feel compelled to do it, and it would always bother me if I didn’t at least try.

8. Self-discovery

I had been starting and deleting blogs for years and would always end up stopping after about two posts into it. I think it was because I had no idea what I really wanted to write about. So I wrote about random things that fit into beauty, lifestyle, and travel even though I wasn’t wanting to write those pieces. So before I even started Lost Online, I asked myself “What is one thing that I’m so interested in that I could write about it for a year straight and never get bored?” Instantly, I knew that it was digital media and the way that it had affected me in high school and college. I opened up a note on my phone and typed out all of my ideas for 24 hours, and within that time I had come up with my plan, my content ideas, my name, my tagline, and my philosophy. I spent the next week locked away in my room building the site and working on my first posts.

After 12 months of working on it though, I continue to have moments like that when I ask myself what I want to write about and I’m often surprised by my answer. Sometimes I don’t realize how interested I am in a topic until I’ve begun working on a post about it. For example, I didn’t realize how interested I was in the topics of self-help and self-love, and lately, those have been the posts that excite me the most. It’s been a wonderful way to explore topics that I’m very interested in and dive deeper into the subjects. Many of those posts haven’t even made it onto the website yet, but I still continue to learn and grow from them regardless.

9. Everyone’s doing it

The first six months or more of having a blog, I was so nervous about sharing it. Like actually scared of what would happen if people found it. I wanted to basically have a secret blog for internet followers but didn’t want friends and family to know. If you’ve read my blog about “How I Freed Myself From the Opinions of Others,” you’ll know why. But the more I continued to write in private, the more I discovered how so many of my friends online had blogs, and others would tell me how much they wanted to blog. Realizing just how popular blogging was becoming made me realize that it’s not a big deal. It seems that way when we first begin. It seems like a risk, it seems like a lot of work, and the nerves about what other people will think begin to settle in.

Blogs have been viewed in the past as a personal diary meant for sad people who want to vent to the world about their emotions. But it’s not like that anymore. Perceptions of blogs have shifted in the last few years and have become incredibly popular among online celebrities. Now it’s viewed as something only super successful people can do. But that’s not true at all. It’s not unusual to have a blog anymore, and it doesn’t matter what you want to write about. Everyone is doing it!

10. It makes me happy

Last, but certainly not least, blogging makes me happy. Simple as that. I enjoy every part of it. The brainstorming, the website creation, the writing, and reading the comments.

If you’re still here, I imagine it’s because you want to start a blog too (or because you know me personally and are super curious as to what the heck I’m doing and why I haven’t shared this with you). But if you do want to start a blog, I encourage you to find the courage, the motivation, the confidence — whatever you need — to do it. If it’s what makes you happy, nothing else matters. I wish I realized that before all of the other reasons listed above, but I didn’t. If you want to start a blog too, just do it already. And when you do please comment below what finally pushed you to start your own blog and share the link for me to see! 

Photographer: Autumn Clark.

Sacrificing Privacy for Opportunity​

Digital Dilemma

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It seems that everyone today from college professors to business professionals has a cut and dry formula for successfully landing a job out of college. The formula looks something like this: 1 LinkedIn Profile + 300 Connections + 3 Internships + 1 College Degree + 3 Letters of Recommendation + 1 Online Portfolio + 1 Blog + 5 Job Search Engines = A Job. Seems simple enough right? So that has been my formula and I’ve followed it to perfection. Most college students and professionals would agree that this is the best formula to use to create a solid foundation for the future. But what this magic formula doesn’t account for is the hundreds of hours spent online crafting this perfect and professional version of ourselves, not to mention the amount of information about ourselves that we put online… and that’s something that can’t be measured.

How the job hunt has changed…

Just a few weeks ago when I was enjoying my weekend off in Saint Augustine, Matt and I met an older couple that we completely hit it off with. We started discussing everything from politics, social media, job hunting, etc. They had tons of advice for me about life after graduation and how to prepare myself as I enter this so-called “Real World” that everyone always talks about. Of course, many of their suggestions included using LinkedIn and Indeed, creating a portfolio, networking with people, and getting recommendations. All of which fall into that formula for landing a job.

I told them that I plan on working in communications, public relations, and digital media and how I’m preparing for a career. I shared with them that over the last year I’ve spent all of my free time writing a blog, editing my LinkedIn profile, juggling multiple internships, job hunting online, applying through sites like Indeed and ZipRecruiter, and “connecting” with people who currently work in communications. As I was telling this couple about my never-ending work of writing, editing, searching, and uploading content online for the purpose of starting my career, the woman made a comment that stuck out in my mind and has not gone away since. She said, “Today, younger people have to sacrifice their privacy for opportunity.” I couldn’t agree more. In order to start a career, my generation of college graduates has to do it online and follow the exceptions of us during the digital age.

This woman also told me that when she was a 22-year-old fresh out of college, job hunting meant walking into a place of business, filling out an application, and handing it in a few minutes later. It was done in person and the only information that they used to determine whether or not to hire you, was what they saw on your application and how your interview went. Today, people do the entire job search online while employers do their entire recruiting process online. Whether or not they choose to hire someone depends on what they see on the resume, the application, LinkedIn, social media sites, personal portfolios, and blogs. Employers can do extensive research on you as a person and decided whether or not you’re qualified and whether or not they like your online image.

Through my endless pursuit of landing that first job out of college, I knew that this modern way of job hunting was a bit odd, but it never really bothered me. The way that graduates job hunt today has always been drilled into my head through high school and college. I accepted the fact that I had to have an online presence to find jobs in the industry that I want to work in and it began to feel more normal. But this idea of sacrificing privacy for opportunity has been becoming more apparent as I actively job search.

How do we sacrifice our privacy for opportunity?

LinkedIn Profiles

There’s a couple ways we sacrifice privacy for opportunity. One of the most obvious examples is that now it’s expected that young professionals have a LinkedIn profile. This profile is online for everyone to see and have access to your resume and other important information about you. The LinkedIn profile shows all of your major projects, schools that you’ve attended, your past positions, the duties you’ve had, and past volunteer experience. This can be a blessing when it comes to networking and job hunting, but it could also be seen as an invasion of privacy. The reason being that it’s not only expected that people create this profile, but it’s expected that they regularly make connections with other professionals online. By making more connections, the user gets endorsed for skills by the people they know in their industry and get recommendations from the people they’re worked with. It’s also expected that this portfolio is updated every so often to include any new projects, jobs, or volunteer experience. The reason being that only way to really stand out on these sites is to build the profile and show that we are well-rounded individuals who are constantly growing and learning from each new life experience and have the tech savvy to broadcast it to the world. However, what if someone isn’t comfortable with having all of their professional experience being visible to everyone else online? But unfortunately, that’s the only way to have those opportunities is by sharing as much professional information as possible with as many peers, professionals, and recruiters as possible. Once someone has a profile created and is kicking butt on LinkedIn and is job hunting across several sites.

Blogs and Portfolios

Another example is how every college graduate today is told that they must have a blog and a portfolio. (Not to hate on blogging, because I’m completely in love with it!) These are both incredible tools that are meant to showcase young professionals skills and abilities to make them more hirable than someone else competing for the same job. These blogs and portfolios are meant to be displayed on your LinkedIn Profile for potential employers to see your work. The problem with this is, people already have a lot of information about themselves online today. Asking people to write lengthy posts about themselves and their opinions could be intimidating for some. For a few of my classes, I had to create blogs and regularly publish content for class assignments about the projects I was working on or about something we were learning in class, such as SEO. I had a lot of fun building the blogs and then publishing and presenting the content for all of my peers to see, but I noticed that some of my fellow students were not as jazzed about this. They didn’t like the idea of having their name on a new website, they didn’t like having to publish their class assignments online for anyone to read, and they didn’t like having to do it regularly. What felt fun and natural for one person, felt like an invasion of privacy for another.

Job Searching Websites

Another way that college graduates sacrifice privacy for opportunity, is that in our digital era, they now search for careers online through sites like LinkedIn, Teamwork Online, Zip Recruiter, Indeed, and Career Shift. Job hunters share their personal information through these sites, and then use it to browse open positions in different companies. These sites are user-friendly and make it easy to find job listings, apply for them quickly, and get instant feedback.

Unfortunately, a major downside that I’ve noticed about these sites, is that once you start sending out your resume, the websites actually start to apply for jobs for you. The real problem is that they don’t usually match the positions that you’re invested in, and you’re not even notified when this happens. To make it worse, I haven’t been able to figure out how to stop it from happening. I had gotten several calls back from companies thinking that it was a job I applied for so I scheduled my interview. Because of this, I ended up going different interviews for those positions and quickly realized that not only did I not apply for those positions but they were also pyramid schemes! My “interviews” consisted of people trying to suck me into the company like it was a cult. It definitely felt like an invasion of privacy knowing once I found out what was going on. Another more minor downside is the more applications someone sends out, the more and more junk mail shows up in your inbox. Too many junk emails to sit down and unsubscribe from all of them every day. These sites are supposed to be tools to help college graduates become successful, not sell their information and send people out of bizarre interviews.

Social Media Accounts

It’s worth mentioning that this idea of sacrificing privacy for opportunity is not just done on websites that list jobs. It’s also highly popular on social media channels like YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Vine. Countless millennials have become successful and famous due to their social media presence. They shared enough of themselves online and they created enough of a buzz and a following that they’re now established “content creators.” Now there is real opportunity found online. Millions of people have been able to create a full-time career out of sharing their lives on social media. Some of them can make hundreds of thousands of dollars from one simple Instagram post. However, for most people, this doesn’t work out. The vast majority of people that constantly share content online hoping to be the next famous digital nomad, don’t make it. Which means that they now have tons of information about themselves online, and no income from it.

Another big issue as it relates to job hunting is how easy it is for employers to find people on social media. Many employers check out someone online before they even consider hiring them. This is because companies want to know how the employees spend their free time and what kind of people they are like after the workday ends. Even if it isn’t a company policy, sometimes hiring managers are still curious. Which is why some applications now ask people to copy and paste the URL of their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

In my opinion, this is a huge invasion of privacy. Personal lives and work lives used to be completely separate. People went to work from nine to five and then went home. What happened in their personal lives was no one else’s concern when they left the office. Now our personal and work lives are so intertwined that our personal lives are an open book for anyone who wants to learn about us, even those that we don’t necessarily want to know everything. I know I don’t want my boss to know everything that I do on my weekends, or at home, or when I’m on vacation. Not that it’s because I feel my social media is inappropriate, but because that is my personal life. How I spend that time when I’m off the clock shouldn’t be monitored. The other issue with social media is that my generation only posts the filtered versions of themselves, not their true selves. And those filtered versions are usually carefully crafter for their friends to see. Social media was originally created to socialize with friends, not for people to stay in touch with their bosses and share their weekends with each other. Is it fair to tell millennials that they must represent a cookie cutter corporate image online?

We’re always on call

In this specific example, technology really is a double-edged sword. For my generation, technology has made it so incredibly easy to stay in contact with people. At any given time, my boss could text, send an email, or call me. If he has any concerns, I can be contacted immediately. The problem is that even when it’s our personal time, people are now expected to pick up the phone or answer an email for work. I’ve answered calls from work at the doctor, having dinner with family, and even while I was running on the treadmill. The problem with being able to communicate with each other so easily means that we’re always on call. We’re always expected to work. Co-workers and bosses call you off the clock to ask “did you get my email.” Of course, we did! But we’re busy having a romantic dinner right now!

Remember…

This issue of sacrificing privacy for opportunity is just another example of how my generation has become Lost Online. I’m lucky because I want to be in communications and digital media. I love writing and I love creating content online. But what I don’t love is how it’s demanded of everyone in my generation. It’s a requirement that everyone should follow this formula, while also updating at least 4 social media profiles. We’re already consumed by technology for incredible amounts of our day, but the internet, universities, and modern employers are demanding more. It’s important that in this digital age we remember that we’re not robots. Not every aspect of our personal and professional lives has to be written on the internet for everyone and anyone to come across. So when I hear someone scolding another for not having a LinkedIn, or a Facebook, or a portfolio, or an Indeed account, it makes me cringe. Technology is a tool and can be incredibly helpful when it comes to finding work, but it’s not the only tool.

What are your thoughts on scarfing privacy for opportunity? Was there ever a time that you felt you had to sacrifice privacy in order to get ahead professionals? And should it be required that everyone follow the formula for success even if they feel uncomfortable having all of that information online?

Photographer: Autumn Clark.

“Ok Google, tell me something good.” 

Digital Dilemma

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If you can stand watching the news today then you’re a tougher person than I am. I’d like to know what’s going on in the world, but every time I see the news I either hear about sexual abuse, police brutality, natural disasters, or yet another mass shooting. The news has always made me feel like there’s nothing good happening in the world. But my hatred for the news got even worse this past election year. As a Democrat and a female, I can’t stomach what I see on the news. Starting my day hearing the latest horrible thing that Trump said, doesn’t put me in a good mood to go pursue my dreams and have a wonderfully productive work day. But I’m not writing this blog to discuss politics with you… that wouldn’t get us anywhere and it wouldn’t change what’s happening. The point is, I hate the news.

The Problems With Our News

1 ) All Negative

The way that the news operates, is it highlights the bad things that are happening. Then at the end of a half hour or hour long segment, there’s one positive little short story to leave you with some hope. But unfortunately, the thirty-second bit about a cute puppy doesn’t undo the stress that all the other stories caused. Seeing so many horrible news stories, one right after another causes feelings of anxiety and gives people a negative outlook on the world. Sometimes it even feels like there are no good people in the world and that everyone is out to hurt you. For me personally, when I watch the news it makes me fearful and paranoid especially when the news is focusing on violence against women.

2) Offers No Solutions

The other big problem with our news sources today is that not only do they share one awful story after another, but they offer no solutions to any of the problems. This is the big reason why I stopped watching the news. When news sources share all of the bad things in the world and then offer no solutions on how to be involved in the issues, it causes the feeling of helplessness. Millions of people turn on the news every day but then end the news segment thinking, “there’s nothing I could possibly do about this.” It appears that the world is completely screwed up but nothing can be done.

3 ) The Fighting

Have you noticed that news, instead of being informative, purposefully puts one group of us against the other? Every time you turn on the news it’s black vs. white, police vs. citizens, republicans vs. democrats, pro-life vs. pro-choice. So much time on the news is spent showing people argue with each other, which then causes the viewers to go on social media and fight with strangers. Even the commentators on the news yell at each other and call each other ignorant and uneducated, or a “snowflake.” I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I wanna see when I’m watching the news. If I wanted to watch people yell and scream at each other, I’d turn on The Real Housewives.

4 ) The Illusion of Getting Worse

The last issue that I always notice while watching the news is this illusion that the world is getting worse. Watching so many stories of murder, crime and corruption creates the idea that more and more bad things happen every day. It makes the world appear as if there’s been no progress in any national and global issues. I can’t possibly count the number of time’s I’ve heard myself say, “What is happening with the world?” I’ve probably said it every time I’ve watched the news in the last few years. When you never get a break from the bad, it’s easy to feel like the world is sprinting out of control.

BREAKING NEWS

I recently discovered while scrolling through Ted.com a video that enlightened me to what really is happening in the world. The Ted Talk by Steven Pinker is called “Is the world getting better or worse? A look at the numbers.” As it turns out, the world is becoming a better place! Pinker shows how all of the world’s greatest and most terrifying problems like child mortality, terrorism, world hunger, poverty, homicide, pollution, and nuclear weapons have all gone down tremendously.

Not only that but the world is getting safer as we go about our daily lives. Here are a few statistics from Pinker’s presentation:

Over the last century, we’ve become…

  • 96% less likely to be killed in a car crash
  • 88% less likely to be hit by a car on the sidewalk
  • 99% less likely to die in a plane crash
  • 95% less likely to be killed on the job
  • 89% less likely to be killed by an “Act of God” (drought, flood, wildfire, storm, volcano, landslide, earthquake)

Also, in the last several centuries…

  • Life expectancy went from 30 years old to 70-80 years old
  • 1/3 of all children used to die before the age of 5, now it’s less than 6% of children in the poorest countries of the world
  • 90% of the world’s population was in extreme poverty, today it’s fewer than 10%
  • 90% of the world’s population under the age of 25 can read and write today, compared to 5%
  • Westerners used to work 60 hours a week, today we work less than 40 hours
  • Instead of spending 60 hours a week doing housework, we spend less than 15 hours a week (thanks to the help of appliances, running water and electricity)

Pinker discusses how there’s been progress in all of the areas that make up the well-being of the human race including life, health, sustenance, prosperity, peace, freedom, knowledge, leisure, and happiness. So as it turns out, the world has seen drastic improvements on a global scale. But my favorite statistic is 86% of the world’s countries happiness increased in recent decades! The world is getting better every single year!

But as I mentioned above, the news that we consume doesn’t reflect the reality. Call it “fake news” if you want 😂 Pinker shares that even though the world has gotten healthier, wealthier, wiser, safer, and happier, the news doesn’t reflect this because “if it bleeds it leads.” Most journalists don’t want to share stories that are about peace, love, and happiness. That isn’t going to get ratings. So we see the news that’s interesting, scary, gut-wrenching, and “feeds off our morbid interests,” as Pinker would say.

I would also argue that our access to information plays a key role. Due to technology, we can access stories from all over the world. I can go on my phone right now and learn about all of the horrible things that happened in my country, or China, or India, or ___fill in the blank___. I can turn on dozens of different news channels, go on social media, Google it, etc. And because this news is so easy to access and we’re only exposed to the bad news all day long, I’ve believed with my whole being that the world is steadily getting worse. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one. But it hasn’t, what has gotten worse is how easy it is to access those depressing stories. Lucky for us, there’s now a way we can easily access positive stories… 

“Ok Google, tell me something good.”

I’m completely excited about a new feature that Google developed! As of this month, using Google Assistant, you can now say to your Google Home or Google Home Mini, “Ok Google, tell me something good.” Google will then tell you the positive news stories that are happening in the world. This new feature has been designed to give users a sense of optimism so we no longer feel like the world is crashing down around us. It also focuses on the news stories that revolve around solutions. Google does this by sharing the issues and how people are working to fix or eliminate the problems. It will remind people that even though there is a problem, there’s something that can be done about it. The audience doesn’t have to feel helpless about what’s going on. This may also inspire people to be proactive and create more conversation about what we can do. It changes the question in our head from, “What is happening in the world?” to “How can I help?

What makes this feature even better is that Google is also working on a Google Assistant app for smartphones. That way people who don’t have a Google Home can use this feature on their smartphone. Everyone will soon be able to access positive news stories simply by saying, “Ok Google, tell me something good.” I’m so grateful that I no longer have to feel like I have to avoid the news. I’ve tried many times to seek out positive news sources, but there wasn’t anything that I found with decent writers and regular content.

My hope is that over the next few years, news stations will start to follow in Google’s footsteps and include positive stories, or at least solution based stories. Imagine a world where people didn’t feel like they had to avoid the news and where the news inspired us to be proactive about making the world an even better place.

What do you think about this new feature using Google Assistant? What are your thoughts on the news today? Have you ever fallen into the belief that the world is getting to be a worse place? Do you think that this feature may inspire more journalists and news stations to share the good news? Let me know in the comments!

The iPhone Makeover! How to Have a Healthy Relationship With Your Phone

Digital Dilemma

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So maybe you’re like me, and you’ve realized that you’ve become too reliant on your phone! In a previous post, I talked about the incredible addiction that we now have with our phones. I talked about statistics that showed how much time we spend a day in a never-ending, mindless scroll of social media content, and how many people are taking a break from their phones or living without it altogether. I think that people who can make such a change like this or take an extended breakup from their smartphone are admirable, but I don’t think it’s realistic to ask that everyone ban their smartphones altogether. Instead, the solution is to limit ourselves and use our devices with intention.

So what does this mean?

What can we do today to have a healthier relationship with our phones and let this be a device that brings us happiness (instead of one that eats up our time or throws us into hours of self-comparison with other social media users)? I came up with an idea that I call “The iPhone Makeover.” This was inspired by a Podcast I listened to by Rachel Brathen called “From the Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl.”

In Episode 40 – “Setting Intentions and Manifesting Love,” Brathen discussed that she makes sure to put effort into using her smartphone with intention and going onto her phone with the purpose of adding value instead of mindless scrolling:

We use our phones so forking much. I mean, is there a moment in your day when you don’t have your phone right next to you, or in your hand? We’re always on our phones, all the time. I am deep in the practice of trying to make my phone or keep my phone, as sacred as possible. Because I spend so much time with it, working, social media, connecting with my friends, all of this stuff, I really really really try to make a point to only connecting with my phone in a way that’s actually grounding, and that helps me stay present. It’s easy to get sucked into this endless scrolling on Instagram, and left and right, comments from people that you don’t even care about, to get sucked into things that maybe aren’t as mindful.

She then goes into detail about how she changed the layout of her phone to make it less of a distraction. Brathen shares that on the home page of her iPhone, she removed all of the apps and moved them to next page. That way, when she goes to open her phone, she’s not instantly overwhelmed by tons of apps and notifications. She can purposefully decide where to go on her phone. That way it allows her to re-evaluate why she’s going on her phone, and avoid using it out of boredom. Brathen also shared how she started to use her Notes app with intention and writing down her thoughts, epiphanies, and daily challenges which allows her to use the phone as a way to keep her connected.

Brathen’s phone layout made me think long and hard about the way that I use my phone. Finally, I was able to come up with a perfect set up so that I began using my phone with intention. Here are ten steps that you can do right now to give yourself an iPhone Makeover:

First things first…

1. Delete!

Go on your phone and spend some time deleting all the unnecessary apps, photos, and messages. Think of all those apps that sit on your phone that you never even open. I had tons of apps on my phone like Groupon or the Target app that I never even used, but they still took up space on my phone and I still received notifications from them regularly. Getting rid of some of that clutter on your phone makes it less stressful and less distracting.

2. Turn off notifications

Next, think about all of those apps that might be sitting on your phone that you only use every once in a while but send you notifications every day. I had so many apps that sent me notifications for no reason at all, as a reminder to go on them. And when I got a notification, even if it was something unnecessary, it would cause me to pick up on my phone, look at the notification, and then open up my phone and go on it regardless. For example, I use to get notifications from Groupon, which would cause me to pick up my phone and then waste time on social media. Take the time to go into your Settings, click on “Notifications” and decide which apps you want to allow notifications from and which ones you don’t.

3. Unsubscribe from emails

I don’t have to tell you what a pain it is to get 30 emails a day from random stores that you maybe shopped at once in your life (you probably already know). But for some reason, those big chain stores feel the need to spam us with daily emails about their sales and new arrivals. You can eliminate the email clutter once and for all by unsubscribing to all of these sites today. I like using a site called UnRoll Me. UnRoll Me is a site where you can log into your email and see every website that you’re subscribed to and then unsubscribe in just one click!

4. Disable Raise to Wake

After one of the Apple updates, I noticed that my iPhone started to wake up the moment I flipped it over and moved it. Yes, it was convenient to have it light up right away, but it caused me to be looking at my phone so much more. I would move my phone and suddenly it would light up, causing me to go onto it for no reason and waste countless hours of my time. Now I have that feature disabled, so I decide when my phone turns on. All you have to do is go into the settings, click on Display & Brightness and then turn off Raise to Wake.

5. Change the Wallpaper

This one may or may not be necessary for you to make the phone less of a distraction. But since we’re giving ourselves an iPhone Makeover, change the wallpaper of your phone. I like to change mine once in while to keep it fresh and have something new and interesting to look at.

Now that the easy changes have been made, here are the next steps to really transform the relationship with your phone:

6. Relocate the time-wasting apps

The first thing that I noticed when I was studying the layout of my phone to plan my iPhone Makeover, was that my home screen had two rows of all social media apps. That meant the second I opened my phone I would see Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Pinterest, and Snapchat. My eyes were instantly drawn towards those apps from the moment I unlocked my phone and I would open them. Even if I hadn’t even gone on my phone to go on social media, I would see the app and it would cause me to waste tons of time.

Instead, put all of the social media apps and games into folders on the second page. Putting the time-waster apps out of site and making them harder to get to, allows you to re-evaluate why you are on your phone in the first place. The few extra clicks that it takes to get to the time-wasting social media apps or games makes you think more about whether or not going on Facebook or Instagram is the best use of your time.

7. Replace your old apps and download new ones

Once you’ve deleted apps that you don’t need or you waste too much time on, add apps to your phone that align with your values and are a better use of your free time. Since we’ve gotten into this habit of grabbing our phones the second we’re bored, it’s important to selectively choose apps that are more thoughtful. So now, instead of having two rows of social media apps on the home page, I installed apps that allow me to be more productive, mindful and spend my free time learning something new. Now, I’m going on apps where I can read articles, search for books, and learning new vocabulary.

8. Install an app blocker

If you’ve made changes to your phone, but you’re still noticing that the social media apps are a distraction, I recommend downloading an app blocker or an app that tracks your activity. A few that I’ve heard great things about are apps called “Quality Time” and “In Moment.” Apps like these show your own smartphone usage daily, gives you reports on the amount of time you spend on certain apps, and allow you to set usage limits or block apps when you should be focused on other things.

9. Edit your Notes app

Before I gave myself an iPhone Makeover, my Notes app used to be a hot mess. It was cluttered, disorganized, and confusing. Even though I used it every day, it wasn’t as helpful as it could have been. Now, I create folders within my Notes app to separate notes for work, my blog, errands, or inspirational quotes or messages. Now, instead of having a long list of disorganized notes, everything is neat and easy to find. I also highly recommend using your Notes app the way that Rachel Brathen does. Using your smartphone notes to record any inspirational quotes, thoughts, and epiphanies is a way to utilize your phone to keep you grounded and connected to the important things in life.

Like I said before, and will probably say many more times throughout my posts – I don’t think that technology is evil or we should ban it all together. But many people today have become Lost Online, spending almost every waking hour on their devices, completely oblivious to the wonderful and real world around them. It’s important to find ways to utilize our technology so it adds value to our lives and leaves us feeling happy, instead of feeling constantly distracted.

Let me know if you decided to give yourself your own iPhone Makeover and if any of these tips helped you! And don’t forget to comment below if you have any of your own suggestions to make our smartphones less of a distraction.

Photographer: Allen Fajardo

Apps That I’m Loving Right Now

Digital Dilemma

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In another blog post, “The iPhone Makeover! How to Have a Healthier Relationship with Your Phone,” I talked about how to give yourself what’s I’m calling an iPhone Makeover. This involves making a few simple changes on your phone and reorganizing the layout so that it becomes less of a distraction throughout the day. One of my tips was to download new apps on your phone that are more in-line with your values and how you would rather be spending your free time. This inspired me to share with you the 9 apps that I’m loving right now. All of these apps have changed the relationship with my phone so going on my phone has become a more mindful experience instead of an epic time-waster.

1. Strides

Strides is an incredibly easy-to-use goal and habit tracker. This app allows you to set a habit that you want to do every day, and then it sends you reminders to keep you accountable. Once you finish a good habit, you swipe right to show it’s completed. This app has become so helpful for me. I can’t count how many times I said, “I want to start meditating.” “I want to start reading before bed.” “I should take my vitamins every day.” “I should be drinking more water.” “I should be reading a new article every day.” But the thing is, as much as we say we want to do something if it’s not a part of our daily habits and daily routine, it’s easy to forget and not do it at all! With Strides, I’ve finally started doing all those little things I’ve been saying I should do or I want to do. Plus, it’s so satisfying at the end of the day to see that all of your good habits are done, like making your bed or drinking enough water. Thanks to this app I’ve changed certain health habits, started writing more for my blog, and have already read a bunch of books.

2. Goodreads

This is another app I’m probably too obsessed with right now. Goodreads helps you discover new books, allows you to read and write reviews, and allows you to rate the books you’ve finished. My favorite feature about Goodreads is that whenever I discover a new book I want to read, I add it to my “Want To Read” list. Of course, everyone knows about Goodreads, but many people don’t actually utilize this feature. It’s become incredibly helpful to know what book I want to read next instead of trying to remember whenever I’m wandering through a bookstore.

3. Headspace

I used to know absolutely nothing about meditation until I downloaded the Headspace app. This app gives you guided meditations each day, provides you with information about meditation before the start of a new session, and has animated videos that explain how it works. Ever since I downloaded this app I’ve slept better, had less anxiety, been more productive, been more focused, and have been overall much happier. If you’re interested in learning about meditation and beginning a practice even if it’s only 5, 10, 15, or 20 minutes a day, I highly suggest Headspace.

4. Google Calendar

This one is super basic, I know. But the reason why I’m suggesting this is because until last year I fought the idea of an online planner. I would get irritated when someone would dare suggest I use Google Calendar and I’d spew of countless reasons why my planner filled with post-it notes, scribbles, and horrific handwriting was someone better and more organized than an online calendar. But it wasn’t. And the most difficult thing about having a paper calendar was that I always had to tell people “Let me get back to you when I check my planner.” So finally, I broke down. I threw away that paper planner and downloaded Google Calendar and my life has gotten 1,000 times easier. Everything I’m doing is on my phone, and it’s color coordinated! Exciting stuff, I know. Plus, Google Calendar allows you to make multiple calendars and then share them with other people. So now I have one for work that I share with my boss and one for my personal life where I can keep track of birthday, doctors appointments, vacation plans, nanny jobs, etc. If you were like me and you haven’t made the switch to Google Calendar yet, it’s time.

5. Ted

Since I’ve downloaded the Ted app I haven’t looked back. This app allows you to explore thousands of videos from the most remarkable people in just one app. Now, when I find myself reaching for my phone I like to watch a Ted Talk and feed my curiosities instead of getting sucked into mindless scrolling whenever I find myself a bit bored. Ted even puts together playlists so if you’re interested in a certain topic like robots, or different cultures, or brain health, or friendship, or music, or science – they have a playlist for that! Thanks to this app, I’ve learned something new every day since I downloaded it.

6. Venmo

How did I ever live without Venmo? I used to have to go out of my way to hunt down an ATM and pay someone back or keep track of what I owed someone for lunch or whatever it was we were doing. Venmo allows you to plug in your bank account information and send someone money right from your phone. The only downside is it takes a few days until it’s out of pending, but I’ll take that over going on a scavenger hunt for an ATM or having to wait a day to get to the bank. Or even worse, forgetting to pay someone back forcing them to have an awkward conversation with you to ask for money. Don’t be that friend, download Venmo.

7. Word of the Day

I downloaded this app after I learned that learning one new world in our native language each day helps expand vocabulary, strengthens memory, and improves brain health! Each day a new word is hand picked by English professionals. This app allows you to log on each day read the definition of the word of the day, read a sentence to help you understand it, listen to the pronunciation, and save the words you like. So now, if I’m writing and struggling to come up with a word, I check my list of saved words on Word of the Day. As someone who loves to write and studies communications, I’ve been loving this app.

8. Stitcher

Stitcher is my favorite way to listen to podcasts right now and is one of the Top 5 Podcasts Apps of 2018. This app allows you to save your favorite podcasts, explore new shows, create playlists, and use Carplay. I also like how it automatically plays the next episode and makes it super easy to rewind and fast forward through an episode in case you missed something or want to avoid hearing an advertisement.

9. Spotify

I’ve been a fan of Spotify for a long time now, but lately, I’m loving this app even more than usual. I used to exclusively listen to Spotify in the car, but I’m enjoying this app even more after I started listening to the “Deep Focus” playlists. I play them all the time when I’m writing or working which I’ve found keeps me calm and focused, creates an engaging atmosphere, and helps me concentrate longer than I do without the focus playlists. Five stars to Spotify for making work more pleasant!

That’s it for the apps that I’m loving at the moment. I hope this list will inspire you to try some of these out and see if they’re working for you. Like I always say in my posts, technology should be a tool that we should use to add value to our lives and make us feel fulfilled, grounded, and more productive. These are the apps that allowed me to reconnect with the important things instead of filling my free time with Candy Crush or social media.

What apps have you decided to add after giving yourself an iPhone Makeover? Which ones are your favorite right now? And the real question is, are they making you happier or helping you be more productive?  Comment below and let me know!

Photographer: Allen Fajardo

How Many Times Do You Think You Check Your Phone in a Day? Is It Time For a Break-Up?

Digital Dilemma

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It’s ok, I’ll be the first to admit it… I’m addicted to my iPhone. That beautiful, shiny, ridiculously intelligent device that I’ve dubbed is the most important item in my possession. I take it everywhere, and I don’t think I’ve been away from my phone for a single day since I received my iPhone 4 in high school. But ever since I started studying digital communication, I’ve been more and more interested in our relationship with technology. And I’ve determined that as useful as that little gadget is, it may be doing more hard than good.

I know I’m not the only one. Many of us have gotten used to going through our day with our heads buried in our screens, completely unaware of what’s happening around us. And what has started to upset me more, is when I’m out in public and can see an entire room full of dozens of people, all sitting side-by-side with their heads down. No one talks, no one looks up, no one engages in real conversation anymore! But any of us will swear up and down that these little gadgets are what keeps us “connected.” How ironic.

We have a stronger relationship with a four-inch screen than we do with our own friends and family. What’s even more bizarre is the intense relationship that younger generations have with their phone, yet many of them refuse to talk on the phone because it’s “awkward.” We’ve become so lost in the technology that the thought of speaking to a human being on a phone and hearing their voice makes people uncomfortable.

Joshua Fields Millburn of “The Minimalists,” wrote a post on theminnimalist.com that describes how scrolling is the new smoking. It doesn’t matter where we are. Whether it’s in the car, at a nice dinner, having drinks with friends, as a whole, we can’t seem to pull ourselves away from the endless stream of emails, Instagram posts, texts, and tweets.

So this got me thinking… How much time do we spend on our phones in a day? How many times do we check our phones in a day? My curiosities lead me to a blog post that I found on dscout.com called “Putting a Finger on Our Phone Obsession,” by Michael Winnick. It’s all about a study that monitored the behaviors of 94 smartphone users and tracked every single interaction they had with their phone all day, every day for 5 days.

Collectively, they went on their phones over 33,000 times, spent over 60,000 minutes on their phones, and “touched” their phones over 1,100,000 times. On average, people clicked, swiped, or tapped 2,617 times a day. The heaviest users totaled 5,427 touches a day! In one day, the average amount of time spent on the phones totaled 2.42 hours a day, but the heaviest users spent 3.75 hours a day on their phones. Finally, the average user went on their phone 76 different times a day, and the heaviest users totaled 132 separate sessions.

Although this data is a little bit disturbing to see, it’s not at all hard to believe. Think about how many times you’ve grabbed your phone, opened up the lock screen, and thought… “Wait, why did I go to check my phone?”

Chip Gaines says in his article, “A Breakup Story: An Unintentional Lesson On Letting Go,” that losing your cell phone today is like losing a part of your body. Gaines shares in his article that he accidentally ruined his phone one day when he fell into the water while the phone was in his pocket. So he had to make a choice: spend tons of money to replace it or wait a few months until it was time for his free upgrade. Instead of spending a bunch of money to automatically replace his phone, he did something that few of us could imagine doing right now. Gaines got a temporary flip phone to stay in touch with co-workers or family that absolutely needed to call him.

For months he went without the luxuries of our modern day smartphones and his account of those few months is interesting, to say the least. He began to discover just how reliant he was on technology. Gaines shares, “For the first few days I kept reaching for my phone only to realize I didn’t have it on me. At times I thought I even heard a buzz or a ring, but of course, that couldn’t be.”

He experienced what seems like multiple stages of withdrawal as he had to live without the beloved iPhone. Everywhere he went, he didn’t have that automatic access to conveniences like internet, emails, a calculator, the weather app, the notes app, a GPS, etc. But don’t worry, he survived.

Gaines explained that although the first few weeks of the change were difficult, it forced him to become more efficient and look for help elsewhere. He had to start doing things throughout the day that seems so old-fashioned now… like check a newspaper, find and use a calculator, walk outside to look at the thermometer, and use physical bank statements. Gaines says that although he wasn’t happy about losing his phone, it forced him to massage some other muscles that had grown weak. Instead of connecting with people over email or social media, he was actually talking to people more and having more meaningful interactions with people he met. He could no longer grab his phone to avoid conversations by scrolling through nonsense on social media networks.

Gaines shares that now that his new phone has come in, “The magic this little device once held for me has lost a lot of its luster.” He no longer feels completely attached to his phone and often leaves it in a drawer while he spends the day away from it if he finds himself becoming too reliant on it again.

There are many stories out their about people breaking up with their phone or other technology at home and how they were able to feel better and more fulfilled once they broke the hold their phones held over them. What I want to take away from these articles is not to necessarily be cut out our iPhones and other technology, but to limit ourselves and use it with intention. It would be unreasonable and unrealistic to ask people to go back to flip phones and cut out the technology in their lives. Instead, let’s find ways to simplify, and get back to those simple tasks we used to do before our phones took over. Write a letter instead of an email, use a calculator instead of an app, or reach for a book instead of the search engines. Or have a conversation with someone new instead of wasting that time scrolling. Only then, can we be free from the hold of our shiny iPhones and learn to live with these devices instead of being controlled by them. 

What are your thoughts? Do you think you’ve been too reliant on your smartphone? How much time do you think you spend on the phone every day? And what are your tips and suggestions that have helped you in avoiding mindless scrolling throughout the day? 

Photographer: Matt Rutski