Thursday, September 22, 2016

Keeping it real time (with my husband and Sir Paul)

About 10 years ago when my second daughter started college, she encouraged me to join a social media site called Facebook.

"It's mainly college kids," she explained. "But there are some people on it who are your age, and it will be a fun way for us to stay in contact."

I joined Facebook and had a great time inviting the college students I knew to be my friends. Our home computer at that time was upstairs and each night I would enjoy looking over the posts of my Facebook friends. It felt kind of like reading a news paper with stories about people I knew. I was shocked, however, why people would post pictures of their vacations and things like that. Why did they think everyone wanted to see their pictures of the Rocky Mountains, or Disney Land?

Over the last 10 years as the home computer has taken a backstage to the smartphone, it's become even easier to post personal details on multiple social media websites -- and I have followed the trend.

So much of this has been fun. I've kept track of birthdays and stayed in touch with friends and family in a way that doesn't happen by mailing letters. I can get regular pictures of my grandkids, and FaceTime allows me to see those dear to me as we chat. I enjoy keeping up to date on the events of my friends' lives. Sometimes I even like looking at the photos of what they ate for dinner (within reason).

But the whole social media thing has had an effect on me that I'm not proud to admit.

It's made it harder for me to "live in the moment."

I'm embarrassed to say that many conversations I have with my family and friends are at least temporarily disrupted with the "ping" of a text or Facebook message.

Whenever I have an extended time away from my phone, I'm swift to pick it up to see what I missed while I was gone.

At times when I am enjoying a night out with family or friends, instead of fully entering into the moment, I often think about capturing a photo so I can show everyone on Facebook or Instagram the great fun I'm having.

I want to be better than that.

I first became aware of this problem three years ago.

My husband surprised me with a road trip to Edmonton Alberta to see Paul McCartney in concert. As we sat in our seats waiting for the concert to begin, I pulled out my cell phone and started to take a selfie of the two of us in the midst of a swarm of Paul McCartney fans.

"What are you doing?" my husband asked.

"I'm taking a picture of us to post on Facebook," I answered.

"Dont do that!" he protested as he stuck his arm out to block my shot.

"Why not?" I said perturbed.

"This is OUR anniversary."


My husband's invitation for me to join him in real time hit me square between the eyes. It highlighted how I was thinking more about my "friends" in cyberland than I was about the person right in front of me.

We thoroughly enjoyed that evening. Sir Paul came back for 3 encores and the only photo I have to show for it is one I took at the beginning of the evening when we were standing in line waiting to get inside. I'm bundled up in my winter coat standing with a cut out of my favorite Beatle.

All the other pictures of the evening lay in the memories of my husband and I. We truly spent the evening together in real time.

Today my family will tell you I still spend way too much time on my phone, but since that McCartney concert, I'm more aware of the times I manage to live "unplugged" from social media whether it's watching the sun go down, enjoying a cup of coffee with my daughter, or just having a quiet day at home.

When all is said and done, I want to have really lived my life, and not just posted about it.