That’s what I think every morning as I watch the dog salivate all over the floor — waiting for me to fill her food bowl.
I’m no better.
For hours on end, I sit in front of the computer salivating — waiting for the little red icon to pop up on my Facebook and Google+ menu bars. The all-important red icon tells me there’s food in my bowl. It’s positive reinforcement, stimulating the pleasure centers in my brain. Someone liked my photo, someone responded to my post, someone responded to my response to their post in response to my post …
This blog has become another form of addiction. Time and time again, I find myself checking my stats page, looking to see how many people have viewed my posts, watching the bar graph inch up throughout the day. Or not.
It’s one big addiction.
I don’t need op ed pieces, white papers or magazine articles to tell me this. I’m thoroughly conditioned, sitting in front of my computer, waiting for someone to toss a morsel into my food bowl.
Late last month, a friend swore off Facebook. She later dropped out of Google+, which she aptly described as a methadone clinic for Facebook addicts. Apparently, it’s not a very good one. I checked out two social media addiction communities on Google+. One had just six members; the other had only five. Those numbers include me.
In announcing her departure from Facebook, my friend confessed that her social media addiction had diminished the quality of her life in general and her family life in particular. She boldly admitted that, in lieu of spending quality time with her son, she found herself putting him off while she cruised Facebook.
That really hit home. I’ve found myself doing the same thing when playing with my granddaughter, Kiley. As mentioned in previous posts, I thoroughly enjoy Kiley’s visits, exploring the natural wonders of rural Ohio and the fertile fields of her vivid imagination. However, my friend’s confession made me realize that I had been shortchanging my granddaughter every time I paused while we were playing so I could scroll through Facebook messages on my smartphone. Don’t think Kiley didn’t notice.
My friend’s renunciation of Facebook also forced me to acknowledge that I’ve been neglecting my true calling in life — canoeing. Valuable time that should have been spent preparing for my next canoe trip was wasted on social media. I realized I had become just as pathetic as my former paddling partners who stopped canoeing when drinking became a priority in their lives.
I wasn’t as brave as my friend. In lieu of going cold turkey, I vowed to limit my use of social media to one session in the morning and one before bed.
Then I became conflicted.
The weaning process ended abruptly when I saw a Facebook post from my cousin. In her words: “Keep my mom in your prayers … she’s just not bouncing back this time.”
This was my Godmother. I heeded my cousin’s message and drove up to Cleveland as soon as I could to visit her. I was at my Godmother’s bedside, making a final connection, when she started to cross the final bridge on her life’s journey.
Had it not been for my cousin’s Facebook message, that would not have happened. Neither my Godmother nor I would have known that closure.
Facebook continued to play a role in communication among family members. For the next couple of weeks, we were glued to Facebook, sharing memories of my Godmother and comforting one another.
I should try again to wean myself from social media. But, now that I realize Facebook has some redeeming value, it might be even harder.
I’ll keep you posted. Or not.