Yesterday I abruptly quit social media. Yes, the dude who co-owns a food company where social media is seemingly what keeps the lights on. Where social media has given Foodbeast's roster of audio, written, photo and video content legs to be seen by up to a billion people every year -- I quit using all of it cold turkey on February 1st.
Now, here are three things that happened to my body the first day I went dark:
1. My body absurdly tried to use Venmo as social media
I made a reference to social media as a drug yesterday. By no means am I the first to make that comparison, but never have I felt the embodiment of the addiction so absurdly as when I was taking a shit at work yesterday.
I sat on the toilet, conscientious of my posture, straightened my spine out, feet firmly on the floor making perfect perpendicular lines with the throne. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and into the crevice of my hand, the empty home screen had no social media notifications.
My fingers did their muscle memory thing anyways -- they scrolled two screens over to where Instagram used to be, my crack of choice, and sure enough I thumb tapped an empty block of pixels on the home page where the purple and yellow icon once was. My mind reminded me of the month-long-journey I was on, and my body accepted the fact that Facebook and Twitter weren't options during my bathroom time.
"What did I eat last night?" I wondered, mainly because I had the mental capacity to do so now. My emails were checked, I wasn't in an endless hole of sifting through Tweets, mindlessly scrolling past Facebook status updates of friends -- wait. Wait. I'm...
My fucking finger had found Venmo. Yes, the mobile payment app to quickly transact money between friends. A fucking app that PayPal owns. My body was thirsting for social media so hard I was mindlessly scrolling through monetary transactions my "friends" were making between each other, sometimes sprinkled with cryptic reasonings for said transactions. Sherry had paid Tommy for Lakers tickets. Damn, Sherry went to a Lakers game?! Jennifer paid her boyfriend for "sushi," damn, they going dutch in that relationship?! Jason paid someone 'private' for three tree emojis -- is Jason's landscaper on Venmo now?!
I closed Venmo immediately and deleted it from my phone.
Don't get me wrong, I use Venmo too. It's an awesome tool that allows you to make use of the one friend who may have cash in a situation, or generally speed up transactions. On the other hand, there's tons to be said about Venmo eroding a lot of social monetary interactions that end up making already fickle, cheap people more fickle, isolated and cheap.
Ever thought a friend was paying for your milkshake in a drive thru, only to have him send you a payment request once he's not in your face for $3.79 and a memo "the boys getttin sugar waaaasted." No Keith, I'm not getting sugar wasted with you any fucking longer. Social constructs say I pay for a meal, you pay for a meal -- friends don't need to go dutch on milkshakes. I have a job. You have a job. If you can't buy your friend a 4-dollar milkshake because you're closer to the drive thru window, we shouldn't be driving around burning fuel any longer. We should go park your gas guzzler back home and comb through your finances.
I rant, but Venmo is a social media tool and my body sniffed it out like a junkie. I hadn't thought to delete it in my initial sweep, but my body reminded me that I still had a bottle of social media pills in a new hiding place. Bye Venmo, at least until I know how to use you properly.
1.5. My body wanted mariscos without taking a picture
I still gotta eat. If you find yourself in Orange County, CA and want the best Mexican food for the price and the decor reminscent of an El Torito and Mimi's Cafe's offspring, go to Ostioneria Bahia 2. In fact, I was so enthralled with my meal I didn't take a single worthy picture. A little bit of THC (not served at the restaurant), a couple metallic margaritas (first sip was awful, second sip was heavenly), an al pastor burrito, and of course, the star of the show: shrimp a la diabla.
Orders these as a plate, or in a quesadilla and I guarantee your mouth hole will thank you later (the other hole will beg for mercy, but it all works out in the end):
Since I have no pictures of my own, here's a few from Yelp that I probably could have just lied and said I took:
2. I tried to access Facebook 39 times at work in 6 hours
I knew I would do it too, so by the second time I had tried to meaninglessly reward my act of responding to an email with a quick hit of "f-a-c-e-b...." I got up from my chair, grabbed some sticky notes from my social media manager's desk, and slapped one on my monitor. Every time I stopped working to go to Facebook or Instagram on my phone or computer, I would tally it on the sticky with a pen. By 3pm I had notched 39 attempts at social media.
One particularly interesting moment was when Geoff swung by my desk to discuss an upcoming advertising campaign. Mid conversation, literally while words were coming out of my mouth about budget and view counts, I found myself back at this login screen:
Not sure what privacy law they're breaking here, but there was my face AND a red dot with 31 notifications that I'm "missing out on." I wasn't logged in, yet Facebook was telling whoever was using my computer that Elie had many notifications he was missing on. 31 things, specifically.
My body was actively going through the motions of attempting to reach Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In the morning, it was every couple minutes. By the end of the day, it was every half hour that muscle memory would drive me to try and access Facebook.
3. I no longer felt physically attached to my charging cable
We all feel "tethered to our phones," but I didn't realize said metaphorical description was actually a literal one.
Tethering something involves connecting one device to another. An astronaut is tethered to their ship in space because they need the connection to deliver a clean stream of oxygen to their mask and ample amounts of power to their suit. Without the tether, they'd float away into the abyss of space. They would eventually die without oxygen.
Ever been out of your house long enough that you start frantically looking for where your next phone charge will come from? Don't you start feeling like the battery itself? Say you're at 15% at the beginning of the day and you have a bunch of errands to run -- tell me you don't start feeling anxious that you might be caught out in the world without a phone. It's almost as if our bodies are at 15% also. What if I get lost? What if someone calls? What do I do at red lights? How do I listen to podcasts?
Ever been in an airport and watch grown adults tethered to a wall, wires intertwined, sitting Indian-style on a dirty floor trying to get their fix--err, charge? I've been at plenty of food events, conventions and general bouts of walking around a city like New York where I have an external battery pack in my back pocket and an extra long 3-foot charging cable connected to my phone. I look like a fuckin' Jetson and I'm not alone.
But today, I didn't seem to care. I left to work in the morning with 10% charge. Outside of a few texts, calls, and an email check -- my phone miraculously was at 5% by the end of the day. When I moved around the office, I no longer felt obligated to bring my phone everywhere. The first couple times I walked to the water cooler I had my phone in my pocket out of sheer habit. But by the 3rd piss of the day, and walking to lunch, I didn't seem to need my phone, so I left it at my desk like a growing child I knew could one day take care of his or herself.
Thank you so much to all who e-mailed me yesterday!
Again, I can't read anything y'all are saying on social media, even if these posts get shared on Facebook, Twitter or talked about on Instagram. What I do know is, those of you who emailed firstname.lastname@example.org have been incredibly eloquent, personal and really inspiring to read. Even if you're just saying hello, feel free to drop me a line -- and I really appreciate you following along!
P.S., this wasn't my original intent...but a lot of you have sent such incredible emails, if you want me to publish any of them in future articles, please leave a note at the end that explains that. It can be a simple ending note "I give you permission to answer this email publicly." I don't know if I ever would, but it started feeling like a letter-to-the-editor type thing. My email is personal though, and if you don't mention that I will assume it's a completely private conversation between the two of us.