I grew up without social media.
I consider myself blessed for being able to say that.
While every generation has their “thing” - I firmly believe my generation's thing is the fact that we grew up entirely without social media, but we are now living our adult lives with social media present in the world. And because of those circumstances, we have a great ability to easily and fluidly shift between old-world applications, and the more new-age digital apps - making us uniquely qualified for certain tasks in this world. We shift seamlessly and adapt easily. I call us the Floating Generation.
And regardless if we partake in this modern day medium, or not, it’s there. It has an extremely large presence in the world. For better and for worse. An all almost too-powerful of a presence.
And, sadly, in my opinion, many people revolve nearly their entire lives around this medium.
I graduated college in 2003. I survived four years of college entirely without social media. The only “Facebook” we had was the literal and actual paper face-book that was distributed each year on campus. All incoming students were given a light and thin paperback book with the names, faces, and phone numbers of each of their classmates.
That was our official Facebook at the time. And we used it - religiously. That book was part of our daily life. We would scroll through it to find somebody’s name, browsed to see what everyone looked like, searched to find out where a person was from, and scan to find their four digit campus extension to call them on the phone… a phone with a cord - that was plugged into the wall.
But in 2004, and after I was done with school, Mark Zuckerburg went ahead and invented Facebook. And the world has never been the same since.
It was my first full year after school. I was living in the real world. I didn’t need Facebook, and nor did I want it. Besides, at the time, Zuckerberg’s Facebook was geared more toward being a digital supplement to that old-fashioned face book I described above. Still utilized, on college campuses, to connect with one another.
But over the years, Facebook grew. It grew fast. And it grew big. It grew to be something that is now an integral part of most people's lives.
I personally think Facebook is too big. And too powerful. I think it is hovering on the verge of being a monopoly and in dire need of being broken up. And I’ve never, ever, had a desire to be a part of it. Even still.
But then, after many, many years of living and going through life, without Facebook, and still not wanting any part of it, I was on the verge of making a big change in my personal life.
It was 2016, and I was planning my big move from the state of Illinois, on down to Florida. That move would eventually occur in early 2017.
Every single person I knew, and loved, lived in Illinois - or a variety of other states throughout the country. But I knew ZERO people in The Sunshine State at the time.
I wanted a way to stay connected to all those I knew I would be missing… a thousand miles away from everything I knew.
I deliberated long and hard with myself about potentially signing up for a Facebook account. And eventually, at the end of 2016, I went ahead and registered - for the first time in my life. Knowing that I would be easily connected in a free and easy and modern manner.
I immediately discovered that “the whole world” is on Facebook. I found all my old classmates, neighbors, relatives who live near and far, friends from grade school, people I haven't seen in 20 years, and all my current friends. And I even made new friends. All through Facebook.
But, I did all this right before the 2016 Presidential Election.
And unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past many years, and haven’t paid attention to the news, you know very well that the political side of Facebook, and all social media, is NASTY.
No other way to put it.
It was through Facebook that I discovered people I know and love say things online that I never heard them say in person.
When people are behind a digital screen, they have a lot to say, and they say it loud and proud. Fine. Whatever. Everyone in America deserves their free speech.
I can very easily block out mentally and physically that which I do not want to hear.
But it does get a little old.
I came for social connectivity. I didn’t come for the constant electioneering, and to learn who voted for who - all day long.
So I tried to ignore the politics, and zone in on the photos.
And it turns out my absolute favorite part of Facebook was, and is still, those photos.
I also realized that social media is the single best way to find out all the latest social news, gossip, and any and all information about life changes involving people you know. The stuff I was looking for all along.
I found myself completely up to date on the latest pregnancy announcements, gender reveals, baby showers, births, deaths, obituaries, accidents, injuries, illnesses, new home purchases, engagements, Say-Yes-To-The-Dress days, wedding showers, marriages, anniversaries, birthdays, pet adoption days, Gotcha Days, National Cheesecake Day, International MisMatching Sock Day, Taco Tuesday, Touch-A-Truck Days, Nurses Day, Teacher Appreciation Day, Star Wars Day, Bird Day, Hoagie Day, National Roast Leg Of Lamb Day - May 7th, in case you were wondering.
The list is endless.
May 8th - National Coconut Cream Pie Day.
June 26th - National Take Your Dog To Work Day.
And, just so they can give themselves yet another plug, while you’re already on their applications all day long... We have June 30th - National Social Media Day.
Every day is something.
And guess what else?
EVERY PERSON IS OFFENDED BY SOMETHING ELSE.
That’s one of the most valuable things l learned by joining social media.
Why don’t we have:
I learned that everyone cares what everyone else thinks. I learned that people are very sensitive. I learned that when people write something online - they think it is pure gold. And I learned that if any single person disagrees with another, in any way - it’s the actual end of the world for that relationship.
DISAGREEMENT = NUCLEAR BOMBS GOING OFF EVERYWHERE.
Hence all the hate, the back-and-forth, the petty comments, the blocking, the unblocking, the following, the unfollowing. That all - also - never ends.
And since I really don’t care what other people think, I am, once again, able to function with or without social media in my life, just fine.
I joined to see photos of my friends and family and their babies and their wedding showers. But instead, it’s more about why this person hates whoever the current president happens to be.
So, after about a year and a half of being digitally social, and being sick of it all, I gave it all up.
When I left Facebook, I also gave up my Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. I had initially joined the mothership, but I had then joined the other big three soon after.
And while I nearly despise and almost hate Facebook, I absolutely LOVE Instagram. I am a very visual person though, and as I said before, I enjoy the photos. Instagram is all imagery. A great place to post all my travel photos and latest artwork, and to see those actual photos that I was seeking out when I joined Facebook initially.
I had used Pinterest just for fun.
And I found that the best benefit of Twitter was for hurricanes.
Yes, you read me right - hurricanes.
No sooner than I moved down to Florida, Hurricane Irma blew through later that year. She was a big one. And caused the whole state to be in an uproar. We were evacuated. Twitter was VITAL to me during the hurricane.
And while lots of apps and websites didn’t work under bad internet service at the time, Twitter stayed on strong. So did Facebook. You’ve heard about how if you have bad cell service during an emergency - when all the lines are tied up - that it may be easier to send a text for help instead of trying to get through on the phone, right? Think that for Twitter in this modern day... I found that utilizing social media during the worst of the hurricane, to get my news, was the very best way, to get the actual news.
We live on an island, with not even a handful of bridges to cross over during a hurricane evacuation. The bridges do close down when the winds reach a certain mile per hour - sustained.
I quickly started “following” the local news channels plus the three local beach towns, their mayors, the City of Jacksonville, and the Jax mayor, all on Twitter. They all provided a wealth of factual information to me all throughout the duration of the storm. It brought some level of certainty - communication - to me, during a time of great uncertainty.
I also followed the American Red Cross, the National Weather Service, Publix, Winn Dixie, our governor and two senators, Beaches Energy Services, Jacksonville Electric Authority - JEA, all the local area fire and police departments, JSO - Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the St. Johns River Ferry, the National Hurricane Center, JaxReady, the Jacksonville Public Library, oh yeah, and Dunkin Donuts… Because you can’t survive a hurricane without donuts, right?
But after I went ahead and quit social media, I then went through the following storm seasons entirely without social media. Which led to a much more “manual” and old-fashioned form of finding out the news, when the internet was overloaded and the next storms were nearing us.
When the next hurricanes blew through and around us, and I was on my zero social media experiment of 69 weeks, I literally dug through the closet and pulled out an old-fashioned radio. I was ready, just in case the power went out, to listen to the news that way. But nothing I did was in any way a comparison to Twitter. And social media would have been almost priceless to me during those next storms.
But willing to stick it out, I made it through alive and well. No social media. No damage.
Ultimately, I quit all social media after about a year and a half of being on. I did NOT miss it. I was focused solely on my own personal well being and sanity. I left for my own mental health. A completely selfish decision. But very grateful that I did.
When I signed back up after 69 weeks of being away from The Zuck, I had to start my accounts from scratch. I had completely deleted all of them. So it was an official starting over process. Sort of like being a toddler and learning to walk again. I had to re-find all of my friends and family there. It took a while, but I found most of them.
During those 69 weeks without social media, I focused strictly and selfishly on my own well being and daily productivity. And now that I have social media back in my life, after that extended absence, I am able to have a fabulous life balance of living with social media applications in complete confidence. And today, having Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, back in my life, I am even more productive than I ever have been.
I run my life. I don’t let social media run my life. I never did. But some people do.
I think if people can find that balance, they will feel a lot better and at peace with the existence of social media in their worlds.
No, I don’t think social media is going anywhere. I think and see it remaining a huge part of people’s lives into the future.
And that’s also one of the reasons I came back.
In that time away, I set up my own website, a lifestyle blog, an Etsy shop, a place to showcase all my art and writing. But if I want to actually reach people with the things I write and show my paintings to the world, social media remains one of the best ways to do it.
I might write a blog twice a week, but my utilization of social media to help it get out there and maybe reach that one, singular person who may benefit from a specific article in some way, is the point of me sharing it all, on social media.
So while I do despise Facebook, and did have a near love/hate relationship with it in the past… I have now turned that relationship into merely a like/dislike relationship. I can live peacefully with Zuckerberg in my life now, and I know the exact purposes of my visits to each of the other mediums as well.
I still go back to Pinterest simply as a brain teaser, for creative solutions to new ideas.
I go to Twitter for hurricane and rough surf and coastal storm news. Or in today’s new world, pandemic and apocalyptic plague news… charts and graphs and statistics that change by the day. Announcements, once again, by our leaders and representatives on important matters.
I go to Instagram to share all my favorite photos. And see everyone else’s.
And I go back to the now old and trusty and reliable Facebook for those wedding announcements. Babies being born. And yes, in my 69 weeks away, I had friends who had babies, that I never even knew about because I was away from Facebook. When I joined back up I discovered that an old friend endured an entire pregnancy, birth, and had a new baby in her life. Her second child, I never even knew about, in this world. So yeah - Facebook is THE way to communicate with friends and family in this digital era.
And, since I’ve been back, I haven’t missed out on one birth announcement, I know who is pregnant, who is getting married, who died, and I read all the obituaries shared that way. I see in real time who made a roast in their crock pot for dinner, plus which sides they cooked with it. Then, I get the recipe.
I get to see friends travel to Hawaii, and Iceland, and Costa Rica. I see family travel to Disney. I see Dollywood and weekends at a cabin in Michigan. I see special Friday night date nights and fancy dinners out. I see birthday parties and special cakes. I see first haircuts, first baby steps, and first days of school.
I see my nephews' latest milestones as they age from infants, to toddlers, to little boys. School age children who make their first communions and have their grade school graduations. Those pictures, to me, a thousand miles away from all my relatives, are priceless. And all free to share back and forth with these social mediums.
And - I see politics. Yes, politics is still there. And as you may guess, it’s worse than ever. I see Civil War. I call it Civil War 2.0. I see and know who hates President Trump, and I know who loves President Trump. I know who is conservative and who is liberal. And I mostly try to ignore it all - and just laugh at it.
I am glad I left social media for 69 weeks. I am extremely happy with and 100% confident in my decision to ultimately come back to social media. Especially considering how very far away I live from all my family and most of my friends. And I am still, and forever grateful, that I grew up in a world without social media in it.
P.S. - No, I am NOT on TikTok. ~~
*Did you ever go on a social media break? Do you have a Facebook account? Do you live on social media or do you live entirely without social media? I’d so love to know. Drop me a comment down below:
Also, check out these other adventures in The Sunshine State, right here:
68] A Sunday Stroll
65] The Sea Life ~ Happy Easter
61] Bean’s Idea List ~ 15 Daily Activities For Well Beyond 15 Days
59] REACTION ~ To World War 19
56] Shell World ~ Key Largo
51] Life Is Full Of Pasta-Bilities ~ Bean’s Red Sauce Recipe
49] A Picture Worth A Thousand Words ~ Happy Valentine’s Day, World
48] Love & Donuts In The Air @ Beaches For Australia
44] Nothing Finer Than Coffee In The Keys ~ The Coffee Plantation Cafe
Every year, on this day, when I wake in the morning and look at the calendar, it's just another day… but then I see my phone screen displaying today’s date to me. The phone tells me that it’s Nine Eleven, and I get a sinking pit of a feeling in my stomach. A feeling of doom and gloom. It feels like in a nightmare when I am falling and there is no end ever to the fall; and then wake up scared to death. But that feeling stays with me all day. It’s a feeling of aching and utter real, raw, sadness. And I feel it every single year, without fail, on September 11.
From that point forward in the morning it becomes a very different day than any other of the calendar year. It becomes a very difficult day for me. A day I push myself forward with an extra amount of force. Force necessary to complete my tasks and go about a normal day of activity.
Saying good morning to my husband. And then our first words to each other this day: ‘It’s Nine Eleven.’
Talking on the phone.
Reading and watching the news.
Going to the library.
Tipping the barista a bit extra today at Starbucks.
Crying as I write this.
Choosing a very happy comedy or adventure-filled film to watch this evening with my husband, and my dog-who didn’t live through that day upon this Earth. Choosing a comedic film to not add any more sadness to my day than necessary.
Saying goodnight to the most solemn and somber day of the year.
On Nine Eleven, 2001, I was at the very beginning of my junior year of college. I abruptly quit the cross country team at the start of that school year, after two years of running NCAA Division III collegiate athletics. I always thought it was a rash decision, but I went with my gut, and my gut feeling does not fail me. I also quit winter and spring track, right then and there as well. Fiercely independent - I had always wanted and craved to run on my own; and this decision allowed me to give more time and focus toward my very expensive college education. My grades were not where I wanted them to be. I only had so much time and energy; I was spreading myself too thin. I was confident in my decision and never wavered from it.
My grades immediately improved with that action. I knew I made the right decision. I made a lot of important life decisions during that school year. I became engaged to be married. I moved off campus and into the condo my fiancé and I purchased in the spring of junior year. I continued onward with my schooling. I worked. I planned my wedding. But when I think back on my junior year of college, I always remember that it began with Nine Eleven.
On Nine Eleven I was safe at college in Illinois, tucked far away from the terror taking place to my East. Being in the Midwest, I never happened to know anyone directly affected by the attacks on America that day. And I spent most of that day in the dorm rooms of my friends, watching coverage on tv. That was all you could watch. Everything else stopped. Not being directly affected by the attacks at all, and feeling the way I do each year on Nine Eleven... I cannot even bear to imagine the pain and suffering of people who were directly affected in any way by the attacks.
Being of college age when the terrorist attack upon America occurred, I believe I am a member of the in-between generation. Or, what I am calling the “Floating Generation.” Listen up if you are about my age and ever wondered what generation you fall in. Are you a millennial? Or a Gen X’er? I used to question my generational status all the time. Some days I thought with 100% certainty that I am a Millennial. Then, other days, I think, those silly Millennials!!! I canNOT relate to them at all! There’s no way I am a millennial, am I? I realized that people my age have our very own and very distinct generation. I hover. And float. The Floating Generation. I hover and I float between generational skills and beliefs. I float back and forth and go where the waves of time take me. I can balance that paper checkbook very easily if the internet went down. I can use Apple Pay at McDonald’s in an instant if I forget my wallet. Maybe someday I won’t even carry a wallet? I am a ‘Floater.’ Everyone is born into a distinct generation. It’s up to you to decide which one that is, though, and which one you will put yourself in - even if that means creating your own generation.
I had grown up prior to Nine Eleven. Nine Eleven occurred when I was a very young and very new adult. A young adult making very important life decisions for the very first time. For me and many others, there was life before Nine Eleven and life after Nine Eleven. Just like there was life before smartphones and life after smartphones were invented. And there also existed for us life before social media and life with the advent of social media. Or “Life Before Facebook” as I commonly say. I am of the American generation who has experienced both eras. I lived and survived life before the internet and now live with the internet a part of my life every single day. I know how to live with Facebook, although I have chosen to now continue life without a Facebook account. I know how to balance a paper checkbook, and will be forever and eternally grateful for the banking app on my phone home screen that keeps track of everything for me now. I float back and forth between the two eras, quite easily adapting to any situation on hand, maybe easier than others can adapt. We are adapters. Adapters to the continual and quick-paced changes taking place around us. This Floating Generation appreciates those little things like a bank app more so than any other generation potentially can appreciate it. Because we have seen, experienced, and know both ways of life. Generations coming up and being born now will have those pieces of technology molded into their lives from as long as they can remember back. How will they relate and study and know their past?
At some point in the unknown future, will there exist a generation of humans who don’t know how to live life without a smartphone? Or live life without the internet? I question if the internet will become classified as a public ‘utility’ in the future?... As imperative to life as gas and electricity and air conditioning and heat are now to our way of life? I compare and contrast my life before and life after in my head all the time, as only ones who really and truly experienced both can do so. And I also see life before Nine Eleven, and I see life after Nine Eleven. We are definitely a different nation today than we were before the attacks. Just as the entire world is different today directly because of social media’s never-ending presence, as well as the invention of the smartphone.
On future Nine Eleven’s, there will be more new and innovative inventions that will have changed human behavior and communication yet again. When I go to sleep tonight I will know that this day will come again 365 days from now. The world may be far different again next year at this time. And years into the future. One thing will remain the same though. That feeling inside my stomach. That pit. Because all the technology in the world cannot change the real and raw feeling inside a human heart. And stomach. It will be like the ‘Groundhog Day’ film, I think to myself. The same day all over again. Just 365 days apart, not the next morning. Except this year, 2019, there was one difference for me. Today, this Nine Eleven, 2019 - eighteen years later - I came to the realization that an entire generation of Americans are now legal adults who never lived through that horrific day in America. They don’t know what waking on this day feels like to some. They need to know our history. - how and why things can change in an instant. I pray they are taught what happened.
My dad is a World War II history buff. That’s how I have always thought of him. And when I think of his history knowledge, I then think of the show Seinfeld… The episode where Jerry and George see Keith Hernandez. And Jerry tells George that Keith Hernandez is a big Civil War buff. George is fascinated by the statement. He says he’d like to be a buff. What does one have to do to become a buff? He contemplates. My father is one of those such buffs. Sometimes I think he knows more about WWII than some of the generals who fought in the war.
Recently, June 6, 2019, marked the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. I like to educate myself about WWII. I like knowing as many details as I can. I’d like to someday know all that my father knows about WWII. Yet, I know I will never know as much as my father knows. He knows things that WWII movies get factually wrong. When this past 75th Anniversary came and went, I couldn’t help but think at the time, that someday, it will be the 75th Remembrance of Nine Eleven. And then the 100th. Whole generations come and gone. What will American’s think that day, Nine Eleven of the distant and unknown future? Will they be watching television that day, on some strange futuristic device, and see world leaders from all over the globe come together to remember the fateful day of the past? Will people put flags up and wear American flag tees and pins to remember 9/11 that far into the future? They might, and they will, if future generations are taught what happened. A history which is forgotten is a history that may be repeated. If something is forgotten, how does one learn anything at all from that something?
To the new and waking and growing generations of American’s out there - this is what Nine Eleven feels like to some of your fellow Americans. And next year, on Nine Eleven, Twenty Twenty, we will feel this way again. This is why the American Flag is brought out specifically today, hung proudly outside homes and businesses and in window displays and waving from vehicles all across the country. This is why news coverage is different today. This is why when you Google something today on your smartphone you will see a sad and somber black ribbon just below the search bar, draped gently over the American Flag; a Flag who mourns a loss from 18 years ago today.
And next year, on Nine Eleven, I already know on that morning I will again wake and I will again look at my calendar and see the date; and a sinking pit of a sad and heartbreaking feeling will fall upon my stomach. That Groundhog Day repetitive feeling will come upon me again. Reliving the day with heartache and a profound sadness. And I will go out into society to get coffee, and I will tip the barista something extra that day - whether I can afford to or not. Living the same day, with the same feelings and emotions, again. And tears will come again. Without end on that day of the calendar, Nine Eleven. For the rest of my life. I will never forget.
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