I had this ongoing crush that started to consume me. I felt like I was being manipulated and controlled at every turn. I’d wake up thinking about my crush. I’d go to sleep with my crush. My crush went everywhere with me. My crush would sit with me at the airport as I waited for a plane, stood in line with me in WalMart, and even accompanied me when I visited my children and granddaughter in Utah. It was sick. I tried desperately to separate myself from my crush, but whenever I separated, I went back. I couldn’t help but reunite, although I knew that we’d have to start from scratch to make it work.
My crush was an app called “Candy Crush.” It’s a funny thing that I developed a crush on Candy Crush, because I’m not into sweets (I’d much rather snack on gorgonzola cheese). But, this Candy Crush crush was beginning to consume hours of my life each day. It’s a video game that you can have on your phone, tablet or computer where, when you line the candies up just right, they make this satisfying “crrrrr-ush” sound and you score points while these dorky cartoon characters dance around in celebration (and, for some reason you care about that), and then you move on to more difficult levels. It’s like sucking on a hard candy, until you can’t resist the temptation to crush it with your teeth, knowing full well that your fillings might be pulled out…but oh, the satisfaction. It’s potentially addictive!
Well, as ashamed as I am to admit it, but all the while that I was playing Candy Crush, I was cheating with another crush of mine: Facebook. At first I went on Facebook to set up a Dr. Peebles Facebook page to post uplifting quotes from him on a regular basis. I also justified my entry into the Facebook vortex by assuring myself that I simply wanted to “stay abreast of my friends and family’s lives.” Before I knew it, I was checking Facebook several times a day. Checking for the “Likes” that Dr. Peebles got. Checking to make sure that I didn’t ignore someone who posted a reply to my/his posts. Then, I got pulled into the hard stuff. I read the side banners, and got sucked into posts that promised that I really needed to know what past life celebrity I could have been, based on my answers to a “short” (20 minute or more) questionnaire. Then there were the bait clicks (i.e., “Look at what your favorite childhood star looks like today!”) that would take me to websites where I would get into a tangled mess of pop-up ads, inevitably clicking at the wrong time on an unexpected pop-up which took me to yet another website with a tangled mess of pop-up ads, until I had to click “Force Quit” on my Mac just to get out of the madness. I would then feel strangely disheartened that I never did get to see what Melissa Gilbert from Little House on the Prairie looks like today.
Over several years, I’ve tried to get out of the relationship with FB. I cancelled my FB account, even deleted my FB account, time and again, for months at a time. But, ol’ FB would seep into my consciousness like a…a Fuzzy Bear…and the yearning, the deep desire arose within me, like an unbridled horse, once again. [If you are familiar with the TV show The Golden Girls, you might insert a steamy Blanche Devereaux GIF into that last sentence to bring it to life even more.] And, lo and behold, my FB crush took me back! No apologies required! With just one click, we were able to pick up where we left off! No matter which device I was on: iMac, iPad, iPhone…I could point, click, swipe, tap…it was heaven! We were once again united in hours of mindless engagement. Each time I went back to FB, I thought I had a handle on my heart, and could manage this romance. But, alas, it was a runaway train, and I needed to put on the brakes.
As in any relationship that has seen its day, I was tired of the all-consuming effort I was putting into my relationships with Candy Crush and FB each day. I had fitful nights of sleep, with visions of uncrushed candies dancing in my head, and sudden urges to jump out of bed at 2:00am to delete FB posts that I thought someone might find offensive for some obscure reason. I couldn’t continue like this.
I knew that it was time to be honest with Candy Crush. I just couldn’t maintain the level of attention that my crush wanted from me each day. I had books to write, a website to maintain, clients, friends, and family members to respond to and interact with in physical reality, rather than via virtual reality. Then, one morning, as we lay in bed together, I spoke honestly with Candy Crush. I said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t do this anymore.” I just couldn’t fake it anymore. I wasn’t happy, and I needed to be honest. I hit “Delete” for the final time, and Candy Crush disappeared from my life permanently. There was no turning back. In fact, there wasn’t even a desire to go back to such a demanding and compromising relationship.
Facebook took a little longer. We had our last trial separation on May 6, 2019. It’s been a civil relationship, with occasional visitations, but no real interaction, except for some posts on Dr. Peebles’ page.
As with the loss of any relationship, there was this huge void to be filled in my life. But, how could I fill it? After my private sessions and trance coaching sessions, I would dink around on the computer, answer emails, cook food, watch Hallmark movies for the umpteenth time, and stare out my window, wistfully thinking about Candy Crush and FB, knowing that there was no going back, and I would wonder…”What’s next?”
And, suddenly, it dawned on me. I’d been cheating on my first real love the whole time! My first love is writing and creating! What if I started writing a newsletter every week? And, I love working on my website. What if I spent time updating it? What about the possibility of creating some videos, podcasts, and more? What about spending even more quality time in prayer and meditation? What about visiting friends and engaging in real face time? The “what ifs” and possibilities for feeling motivated and excited about life poured in. I began to feel lighter, healthier, more engaged with life than I had been in a long time. (I will spare you the story about divorcing the bathroom scale that I purchased about a month ago. I tossed it in the trash last night. Another liberating moment.)
I have been actively divorcing or separating myself from those things in my life that are holding me back from my truly living my life.
I have seen a disturbing “trend” (oh how I dislike that word) through my work with clients from around the world. So many people tell me about how isolated they feel. They don’t get out of the house as much, and if they do, they have a hard time finding places to go (that don’t cost a bazillion bucks to get there) where there are people truly engaging with each other, either through conversation over a simple meal or cup of coffee, or listening to music together.
I do believe that social media has a valid purpose in our lives. At the very least, those who were reluctant to engage with others at all, are finally engaging with others in a “safe” environment, speaking their truth (even if they are speaking it hatefully). It’s bringing the world together in some ways, bringing to light those barriers, borders, and boundaries that aren’t working for us anymore. Hence the LGBTQ and other communities of people who no longer want to hide themselves/their truth from the world, and are actively asking to be acknowledged and validated.
But, social media has also brought a different sort of divisiveness. We are now often like dogs in a kennel sometimes…separate, and desperately yearning for contact with the physical life around us.
Which brings me to my second divorce this year, and the toughest one. In March of 2018, after 30 years of writing and editing my book, I—shaking in my boots—self-published my autobiography, The Cellars and Ceilings of Summer, via Amazon.com’s CreateSpace, which soon became KDP.com. I also published a book that I helped to edit and format, which has enormously impacted my life for nineteen-plus years, called Now That I’m Dead, a true story about treasure, treachery and love, written by Jerry Helmeczi.
I worked hard on formatting both books for the printed and Kindle versions. I also did all of the graphic design and typesetting on both books.
This past weekend, now separated from FB, divorced from Candy Crush, and feeling revitalized and excited about writing and living my creative life, I decided that I needed to engage with social media in a different way. I unabashedly love my autobiography, and believe in its potential to support and help others to courageously transform their lives by living life authentically. Dozens of people wrote to me after reading my book, and they shared that exact sentiment: they could feel themselves in my book. (This is what a I live for…to deeply affect people’s lives in a way that empowers them.)
So I decided this weekend to get bold and request reviews from some of these people. I sent personal emails to them, asking them to post a review of my book on Amazon.com. The second person I contacted was a high school friend with whom I reunited via last year, via of all places, my former crush, FB. When we reunited, I learned that she had become hearing-impaired, reads lips, writes poetry, has a heart of gold, has been there for her family at every turn, etc. She is a strong woman, to say the least, and one of the most optimistic people I’ve ever known, despite the twists and turns her life has taken. When I asked her if she would be willing to write a review for me, she jumped on it. Within minutes she sent a glowing review to Amazon.com. Sadly, the next day I received a text from her that said, “Well, I don’t know what I did, but they rejected my review."
I read the review guidelines, but didn't see how she had broken any of the guidelines. So I called Amazon. The Customer Service Rep said that reviewers "must spend $50 this year to be eligible to write reviews." I was flabbergasted. My friend had an Amazon account, and she was definitely financially unable to meet this criteria. She had been discriminated against based on her financial/purchasing status, and it made me sad and nauseous to think of the kind of greed that this kind of "eligibility requirement" required. I immediately unpublished my books, cancelled my KDP account, and decided to make my books available on my website as e-books, bundled together for $11.99 (Spirit told me that price).
I have now taken on the challenge of no longer buying anything from Amazon. It's not going to be easy, because I live in a small town where there isn't a large variety of stores. But, I'll manage. I'm up for the challenge, and even rather excited by it. I can't wait to get out of the house and walk into actual buildings with PEOPLE in them. I can't wait to browse the aisles, and actually touch the items that I want to purchase. I can't wait to support the local retailers. Suddenly it feels like food for the soul!
I'm no longer drowning in the world of social media, losing hours of my life force to mindless games and online browsing, and hundreds of dollars to often unnecessary purchases just because I have Prime shipping. I am free now to be me. I am free to write newsletter articles (like this one) that are much longer than the attention spans of most people these days. (And, hey, if you've read this far, bless your heart, and thank you.)
Again, I'm not saying that there isn't value in social media, but there's also value in being social, coming out of our self-imposed isolation, and enjoying actual human contact and interaction again, beyond the flat screen in front of our faces.
I'm free at last! Free at last! Thank God, I'm free at last! Anyone want to join me?