The “i” Generation

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I wish the above weren’t so true. Although, she is figuring out a fork. Just not as fast as she did my iPad.

There is a ridiculous amount of guidance out there on how much “screen” time you should allow your children to have.  For the longest time, children under two weren’t supposed to get any. Even if they had older siblings.

We tried to follow this with our first child, and I swear she could smell the iPad. She could find it tucked away in the back corner of a dark room, and she hated dark rooms. She would find it and come toddling out with it triumphantly clutched in her tiny fingers.

Our saving grace was that she loved being showered with attention more. Loved being read to, “helping”, anything that put her front and center of our world. So, we could get the iPad away from her without a complete meltdown.

I know, kids cry, etc. But when you work, you’d like your few hours with your child to be as nice as you can get them without a tug-of-war over an electronic device every day.

At a neighborhood block party, I asked some of the other moms how they kept their little ones away from their TV and iPad. They offered me a cocktail, told me to sit down, and then explained that they didn’t. If the pediatrician asked them about it, they’d lie.

Wait, what?

Most had older children, and they said it just wasn’t possible or reasonable. They then informed me our school district gives kids an iPad starting in kindergarten to do all of their homework, reading assignments, etc.

Still, I tried to keep her away from TV and the iPad for a while longer, but the realities of making dinner, doing laundry, and washing the dishes won out, and we allowed her to have Sesame Street.

That mostly made her happy, and she would drop TV like a rock the moment we could again give her our undivided attention.

DD2 is an entirely different child. She likes attention, but on her terms. She laughs, gives hugs, and even pets you to soothe herself, but she wants “alone” time. We were terrified at first that this was a sign of autism, but our pediatrician reassured us. DD2 was normal. DD1 was exceptionally high maintenance.

However, this means that if DD2 gets a hold of an iPad, there is no getting it back without screaming. It’s like stealing her favorite toy. Which, in a way, it is.

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So, we compromised, as parents so often do. She’s at a formal daycare all day, so she gets no screen time during the day. We figured a little at night while we’re making dinner won’t hurt anything. And if I’m truly honest, I’m concerned not introducing kids to technology early enough puts them at a disadvantage to their peers.

We took our old iPad and removed almost everything from it except some games specifically designed for her age group that her therapist recommended. These were games she was only allowed to play while she stood on uneven surfaces, for example.

She loves them, and they do seem to be teaching her things.

We still have story time and snuggle time. Playing with Fisher Price Octonauts time, Duplo time, and Magna Tiles (Magna Tiles are amazingly fun, even if you’re a grown-up). To that, we have added TV time and iPad time.

Everything in moderation.

How about you? Did your kids know how to work an iPad before a fork? Did you allow them to have any TV?  Could you lure them away from an iPad with books?

Practicing Empathy

I recently wrote about empathy, about giving people the benefit of the doubt, and how we really need more of it.

I thought of this as I read an article recently that talked about Trump’s travel ban, and it’s impact on three people. Sadly, this article was taken down shortly after I read it, but I’m assuming it was done to protect the man in Alabama I will discuss shortly.

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Mobile, Alabama

You don’t have to look very far to hear the stories of people affected by it in a negative light, up to and including a US-born NASA scientist. As with many of the news stories about the ban, this article began with the heart-breaking tale of a woman who had aided the US in the Iraqi war, was targeted by terrorists because of it, and trying to get to the US for her own safety. It talked of an American man who’d married an Iranian woman and couldn’t get her and his daughter into the US even though they had green cards.

Remember, if it bleeds, it leads.

Empathizing with these people is easy. The news makes it easy. But none of those events are unique to this story.

What was different, however, was the article spoke of an Alabama man who was happy about the ban. After hearing all the stories of terrorism, he was relieved that something was being done to protect him.

This man hadn’t felt safe at baseball games or even the store. He feared any area where large groups of people congregated because that’s where terrorists struck. He didn’t give up going to his favorite sports events because he thought that would be caving into the terrorists, but he felt truly afraid.

Let’s remember that in fiction, no one usually sees themselves as the “bad guy”. The books on craft drill that into our heads.

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I doubt this gentleman from Alabama saw himself as a “bad guy” either. He truly felt afraid. He wanted to be safe, and he cited the events in France and Belgium as reasons for his fear.

What he didn’t know, what the news hadn’t informed him of, was that the total number of American citizens that died due to terrorism from 1995 to 2014 – that’s twenty years – was 3,503.  That includes the 2,910 people that died on September 11th.

In 2014, 42,773 people died by committing suicide. The really scary stuff?  According to the CDC, in 2013 approximately 610,000 Americans died of heart disease. Yeah. One in four American deaths was due to heart disease.

Had the news given as much weight to things that posed the most threat to this man, terrorism wouldn’t be his top concern. He’d be demanding roasted kale and orange slices (two foods known to help in the battle against heart disease) as he watched his sports games while jogging on a treadmill.

Was this man genuinely afraid?  I think he was. It’s possible this man has never met a man or woman from any of the nations impacted by the travel ban. He may not have ever met a Muslim. Only 0.2% of Alabama’s population is Muslim. It may be difficult for him to separate out “bleeding” new bites from reality.

While each person is accountable for their emotions and how they respond to them, I think the news media also needs to accept some accountability. How many images of terrorist attacks have filled our screens? How many times did we watch the planes hit the towers? See the aftermath of bombings?

And it happens every time there’s an attack. We’re bombarded by images. This becomes our reality, what we fear, rather than heart disease.

I’ve seen some accuse the media of being accomplices to the attackers by helping them spread the fear that their attacks were intended to generate.

I doubt this is intentional.

You see, fear sells. If it bleeds, it leads. And what is more terrifying to us than terrorism? Thinking you’re going to punch the clock like any other day, but instead, a plane is flown into your workplace.

Fear sells.

Not only does it sell, but we’ve become addicted to fear, and for-profit news companies know it. They know how to get us to tune in and keep us coming back.

If you think about Maslow’s Hiererchy of needs, safety ranks as more important than sex. So if sex sells, you better believe fear does. Our ancestors knew this. Go back and look at those original fairy tales if you don’t believe me or the research.

News capitalizes on this, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m avoiding the news.

Was this Alabama man practicing empathy for the people this ban affected that weren’t terrorists? Doubtful. But, I’m betting he was afraid, and if he votes, I’m betting that fear influences his vote.

I know fear can influence me and make me do things I regret or keeping me from doing things that I regret not doing.

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What about you? Do you let fear influence your decisions? Do you watch the news? If so, do you find it be full of fear-mongering?

What Common Household Item is Killing Your Children?

We’ll tell you, tonight at eight.

Except, if it really is killing my children, shouldn’t I get a news flash across my phone telling me what it is and how to get rid of it, much like an Amber Alert?

I have ignored traditional news media for years, getting most of my news from the Economist.   Yes, it’s a paid subscription and an expensive one. I’m fortunate that my company is willing to reimburse me for it. Still, it’s some of the best and most in-depth analysis I’ve seen. Positions are well thought out, and their research is impeccable.

For those of you shaking your heads thinking it’s an ultra-conservative news outlet, you may be surprised at how liberal many of their social views are. Why? Because allowing things like gay marriage, religious tolerance, and immigration are actually good for the economy.

Remember who is writing it.

They care about making economies prosper and the generation of wealth. In a recent piece, they actually call for allowing people age 16 and older to vote rather than 18.    Why? Because we need to teach this habit like any other. And people must vote or you undermine the very concept of democracy. It’s an interesting article. I recommend it.

As I’ve been entering the social media sphere because authors “must”, I started getting caught in the news cycle. The drama. The “end-of-the-world” mongering.

The fear.

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I decided to stop following people on Twitter or Facebook that post a lot of “news”. I stopped clicking on any and all links to news articles. I stopped looking at anything that remotely resembled click-bait.

Yes, I know a lot of things are going on right now, bad things, but the constant stress was making me crabby and interfering with my sleep.

If you’re rolling your eyes and thinking I’m a snowflake, here are six reasons why research says you should consider changing your news consumption habits.

 

1. It’s Here to Make Money, Not Inform

With the wave of “fake” news lately, this hardly needs explanation. But we need to remember that news doesn’t usually cover what’s important anyway. They’re looking for the “human” element, the element that sucks you in and gets you to keep watching or clicking.

If it bleeds it leads.

If a building burns to the ground, what do you think the media is going to focus on? The building. The people in the building. Injuries. Fatalities. All of which is relatively inexpensive to produce. They don’t actually have to dig to get to the guts of the story. Do they ever tell you why the building burned? Changes to the fire code that should be enacted to save those lives?

No, because those don’t get clicks.

Because of this emphasis on the dramatic, we focus on the wrong things, and those things are then overblown in our minds. We all fear terrorism, but no one thinks too much about chronic stress. Total US deaths, worldwide, due to terrorism from 2004-2014 was 112.  Think about that for a moment. 112 people in ten years. That’s 11.2 people, on average, per year.

How much news did it get?

But how many people die each year of heart attack? Stroke? Cancer? Yet, how much emphasis has any of this gotten?

Stress, on the other hand, affects 143M Americans and 81M are under extreme stress.    The causal connection between chronic disease and stress is growing .

So why don’t we hear more about this? Reducing stress is something we might actually have control over, and it can have a direct impact on our lives. Imagine if reducing stress could reduce the number of people with heart disease or cancer by 10% or even 1%.

The news doesn’t cover this because it doesn’t get clicks.

News is a for-profit organization. They are not here to inform. They are here to make money.

 

2. Doesn’t Really Matter to You

How many news stories have you watched or read in the last year? The last month?  What did you do because you read or watched it? What decision did it help you to make, particularly about anything of consequence? Did you become a better parent? A better spouse? Did you make a serious financial decision? Do something to improve your career?

I ask this is all seriousness. If it is meant to inform you, it should be doing so in a meaningful way. We’ve already established that it’s not really informing you. Rather, it’s telling you things to get you to tune in, and we should be challenging the value of tuning in.

I can honestly say consuming news did little to engender action from me. News stories didn’t even help me make a decision on the candidates I voted for. I got that from their stated positions on their websites.

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3. Teaches You Not to Think Too Hard

This article really says it all. News programming is designed to make you think you’re seeing both sides of a story and getting the low-down, but you’re not. Most of what we get are news bites, little pieces of information meant to fit into an allotted amount of time. Deep, complex subjects require time to digest. Truly difficult concepts can’t be understood in the five minutes of time they get.

We’ve all heard “climate change”, but how many of us have actually taken the time to understand what it is and why it’s happening? What are the macro effects? What does it truly mean to the planet and to us? (Give you a hint, the planet doesn’t care. It’s already survived numerous mass extinctions.) What are we really sacrificing by not dealing with it, and what would it really take to reverse it?

You see this superficiality with a lot of “news” reports.  They are interested in giving you bite-sized pieces, but nothing too meaty. They don’t make money informing, remember? They make money on you tuning in or clicking.

Yet, without this deeper level of understanding, you lose sight of the bigger picture. Events become singular and contained instead of part of the broader view. Hard to make truly informed decisions when you see a very small piece of the whole issue.

 

4. Seek Conforming Opinions

With the sheer volume of news out there, we no longer have to expose ourselves to ideas that don’t conform to ours. If we don’t want to believe in climate change, we can find plenty of articles denying it to fill our screen.

As Warren Buffet said, “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.”

If this is true, then we’re really not seeking information or enlightenment. We simply want to be told that everyone already agrees with us. That we’re right.  That’s called confirmation bias, and it’s very detrimental.

It means you never hear the other side, you never have the chance to understand their way of thinking. You can’t find a compromise because why would you compromise when “everyone agrees with you?”

But what if you’re wrong? Even Albert Einstein was wrong on occasion.

 

5. Induces Stress 

News, particularly what’s splashed across our networks, triggers our  fight or flight response. The same stories that tend to get clicks, tend to activate this center.

When you hear about a family dying in a fire, you have a very different reaction than if you’re hearing about alternate routes to avoid a fire. That’s why so many of us felt panicked and twitchy after all of the 9/11 stories, particularly as we watched people, human beings, plummet from those upper stories.

That’s one image I will never, ever forget.

The “human” side of these stories release glucocorticoid  which has a whole slew of effects on your body. It’s the fight or flight response. And what does this constant fight or flight response bring? Remember that stress we were talking about and how we know it contributes to heart disease, stroke and cancer? Yeah, that. 

It’s like being constantly told there’s a monster under your bed, and knowing there is nothing you can do about it.

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6. Crushes Creativity

I’m not sure if news in general does this, or just bad news.  I won’t say this is an unbiased or researched article, because I couldn’t find any with hard facts, but it states what I’ve seen myself.

The more news I consume, the less creative I am. Or, perhaps, the less time I have for creativity.

Not sure, but I do know that switching off the news, even for a week, made it much easier to work on my novel. I completed as much in a week with it off as I had in three with it on. I felt more relaxed, more able to focus, and able to bring more of myself to my writing.

Why?

Not sure, but I figure the reduced fight-or-flight response is part of it. As is not allowing the news to snatch at my already divided attention. Of course, tuning out the world burning may not be ideal, but there is very little I, personally, can do for the suffering people in Syria other than donate to the White Hats.

 

Yet, despite the stress, lost creativity, and lack of information, we keep coming back to the news. Makes me think they’re in the same camp as social media. They’ve figured out how our brains work and how to keep us coming back for more. How to suck our precious time from us for profit.

I, for one, am done.

I will continue to read the Economist, and I will never know what household item is slowly killing my children until they send me an Amber Alert to my phone.

 

How about you? Do you watch the news? Do you get anything out of it? Does it inform your decisions? Has it ever affected your sleep or given you nightmares?

 

Book Review: Crux

Title: Crux

Author: Moira Rogers

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review. Mostly because I haven’t been able to get all the way through any. I’ve been unbelievably picky and critical of late, and I fear that’s going to show through in this review. See, I can’t just turn my brain off and accept. I need things to make sense, to form a picture, and to follow some basic rules. Both of human nature and of fiction writing.

I will preface this by saying I’m not sure I’d have finished this book if not for my little one being sick and wanting me to snuggle with her. I needed something to do, so I read.

I’m not going to rate this as I’m still not sure how I feel about rating books, but I will give you my honest thoughts.

 

Genre

Southern Arcana is not my usual fare, but it was billed as romance novel with these elements, so I went for it. Interestingly enough, the paranormal aspects were mostly fine. I don’t mind werewolves, wizards, or shifters in my stories.  The author did seem to have a thorough understanding of this genre, and I could see her building a world with it.

 

Setting

The main back-drop of the story is New Orleans, but I’m not sure the author has ever been there. After living there myself for five years, I can tell you a northerner would not survive August in New Orleans wearing a sweatshirt. Most southerners couldn’t.

I also never felt like the author transported me back to the city. No mention of the oppressive heat, humidity or smell. Places like Café Du Monde and things like beignets were used to add flavor, but that’s about it. I get that not every writer can afford to visit, and it is the ideal setting for anything mystic. I know. I lived there.

There were the beginning overtures of politics in the supernatural society, and perhaps that will be fleshed out in later novels. It didn’t matter for this one, and I appreciate the author not spending a lot of time on it.

 

Characters

This was a mixed bag

There was a huge cast of characters. Not entirely sure why there were so many, but I’m assuming it’s a set-up for more books. Rather annoying, but okay. I get it.

The characters were all beautiful and sexy, standard fare for a romance novel.

Heroine – I liked the heroine. She was strong, but believable. Her fear, her disbelief. I got it. Only part that made me raise my brows was that she was in love with the hero in less than a week. In less than two days, actually.

Hero – He was pretty flat. Attractive, a bit of southern ladies’ man, a good cook, and a first rate wizard. Yup, that sums up his whole character.

Beyond this, things go downhill pretty fast. No one else really stands out, except for the “reformed” bad guy, Marcus, but his redemption was simply not believable.

Marcus  – He’s been raised by Big Bad Guy who’s a fanatic trying to save Marcus’s race of shifters. Marcus has believed in Big Bad’s cause his whole life. Calls Big Bad dad. Yet, a conversation or two with the heroine, not even all that deep or meaningful, and suddenly he’s ready to leave his father, abandon the cause he’s spent his whole life fighting for, and help her escape.

Um, no.

Not buying it for a minute. There was no soul-searching on Marcus’s part. No moment of truth. No pivotal event that inspired a change. Just a five minute conversation. This needed so much more. It’s not like Darth Vadar turned against the Emperor because Luke mentioned what a bad guy the Emperor is.

 

Plot

The plot was thin, and I felt the execution was lacking. Not quite Dues ex Machina, but pretty close. (Spoilers Ahead)

Act Three  – First Surprise – Nothing new should be introduced in Act Three, much less the end of Act Three. The author has established that not all supernatural phenomena are real (such as vampires not being real in this world). Suddenly, in Act Three, not only do we learn psychics are real, but we learn this as one is calling the hero to warn him about Big Bad.

Um, yeah.

To make this believable, the fact that there is a psychic and he’s real should’ve been introduced in Act One as part of the investigation the hero and his partner are working on before the heroine flies into their lives.

Act Three  – Second Surprise – Also, in Act Three, it’s revealed that the way the hero and heroine are going to defeat Big Bad is by merging their (souls?) and thus merging her shifting with his magic to make something as powerful as Big Bad.

Yeah, no.

Introducing this at the end is cheap. Also, not believable. Because, really, if you could combine a magic user and shapeshifter to create a being with off-the-charts power, people are going to be doing this left and right. It’s human nature.  It’s not like there was some epic quest to discover this information. Or they had to meet some unattainable criteria to do it. It was more of an “oh, by the way” moment standing in the kitchen. I wish I was kidding.

There is “risk” to them for doing the “merge”. Should something bad happen to either the mage or the shifter while they’re linked, bad things can happen to the other. Um, yeah, not nearly a big enough risk for magical types to not be doing this joining left and right.

Big Bad Lacks Consistency – For me, consistency is a must. Super powerful Big Bad can wipe the heroine’s personality and replace it with one that she goes along with him. So why didn’t he just do it? Why wait to wipe her after she’s made her hatred clear? Why didn’t he wipe her parents’ or Marcus’s parents’ personalities rather than kill them and exacerbate the issue of saving this race of shifters? Marcus and the heroine’s parents could’ve had more children that would become shifters had he let them live and simply made them docile. Doesn’t make sense, and this personality wipe was a key motive for her and Marcus.

Poor Character Motivation – I felt like character motivation was seriously lacking for the plethora of side characters. They need to be doing what they’re doing for their own ends not just because the plot requires it.

I mean, why would someone risk their life for a woman they’ve known a week? Or their twin sister’s life? Why, exactly, would the Werewolf Consortium care that some super powerful non-werewolf shifter killed a couple of people and is trying to kidnap a girl? I mean, if they really cared about those kinds of things, think of all the non-shifters they should be hunting down. They have no reason to join the fight, much less bring out their “big guns” which was required to take down Big Bad.

Hero and Heroine Feel Secondary – Yeah, they were the love interests. And at the very end they finally did things, but I prefer a story where the hero and heroine are doing more of the heavy lifting.  Helping figure stuff out. There was a whole cast doing most of the hard work and problem solving for them.

Ending Felt Taped On – After the heroine was captured (which I always dislike), I expected the story to come to a climactic ending. A big fight. Good guys win. Everyone goes home. Nope. They get her back, we have the Act Three surprises, and then there’s a much less climactic battle where the hero and heroine combine their powers and take out Big Bad. I almost felt like the author was stretching the ending for word count.

 

All in, it might have been a good read if I could’ve turned my brain off and just enjoyed. I couldn’t. One of my enduring problems. This is the first book of a series, but I won’t be buying the second. Your mileage may vary. Depends on what you’re looking for in a story.

 

Common Writing Advice That Doesn’t Really Work

Some of the most common advice I’ve heard to a new writer is read more to write better. I’ve heard this a lot lately, and those touting the advice quote none other than J.K. Rowling and Stephen King. So it has to be good advice, right?

I can’t decide if the people telling this to authors are:

  • Telling us what we want to hear. Most writers love to read.
  • Using it as an attempt to sell us more books.
  • Genuinely misunderstand how humans learn.

This is pretty dense, but it’ll tell you that to learn, you need to engage the brain. If you tell the brain what it already knows, learning doesn’t occur.

Think about your morning commute. Ever arrive at work uncertain how, exactly, you got there? Happens to me more than I want to admit.

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Just reading is similar to this. You read the book. You finish the book. You either like it or don’t, and then move on to the next book. Kind of like your morning commute.

What’s missing from the advice of “read more” is the critical element of analyzing what you’re reading. Even if you’re not in a formal book club, you can still ask questions of yourself:

  • Why did you like the book?
  • What didn’t you like about it? Why?
  • Would you read it again? Why or why not?

 

After you have the answers to these questions, dig deeper.

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If you loved the hero, why did you love him? If he was too stupid to live, why did you feel that way? Did you want him to succeed in the end? Why or why not?

How do authors engage your senses to make you feel like you’re riding along with the characters? How do they connect you so you care what happens?

I normally love to read romance novels, and I write them, but lately, I’ve had a bad run of them. Characters I hate, situations I find contrived at best, love stories that are a study in lust. But, they have taught me a lot. And not just because I’ve read them.

I may not even finish a book, but I can learn a lot if I take the time to figure out why I didn’t finish. Were the characters not compelling? Was the situation so contrived that my eyes got stuck when I rolled them?

I want the happily-ever-after ending, but I want the characters to earn it. I’ve learned this about myself, and I try hard to put it into my writing. I also want the love story to be believable. I need the characters to earn that, too.

But learning how to do this takes more than reading. It takes the time, patience, and brain engagement to really analyze what I’m reading. I can learn a lot from the bad as well as the good, but I still have to take the time to think.

 

How about you? Do you find reading improves your writing? Do you stop and think about why you love or hate a book? What makes you love a story? Hate it?

10 Reasons Science Says We Should Say Goodbye to Social media

As an advocate of science, it’s time for me to say goodbye to social media. Or at least reduce my time spent there and change who I spend it with.

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The blog will continue three times a week, as always. I’ve come to enjoy blogging, especially getting to know other bloggers. But social media is different.

I embarked on the journey into Twitter and Facebook specifically for my writing. Instead of giving me the visibility and platform to succeed as an author, I’ve found it stealing my energy, draining my time, and overall, making me unhappy.

So, if you see me less active on Twitter or Facebook, understand that it’s not you. It’s me.

I can’t handle the barrage coming at me. People asking me why I didn’t “like” something. The stupid feelings of inadequacy because not enough people like or retweet something I posted.

So. Done. With. It.

Besides, the point of social media was to help my writing, not suck insane amounts of time from me that I should be spending writing. Or with my kids. Or my husband. Heck, cleaning the dust bunnies out of the basement would probably be a better and more fulfilling use of my time.

I figured it was just me feeling this way, but after a little research trying to learn how to overcome these feelings, I learned I am not alone in this. A bit more digging into the multitude of research papers out there shows that social media makes us less happy in a lot of ways. This helped me feel better about my decision.

Here are ten reasons research says why we should let go of social media, or at least reduce it:

 

1. You Enjoy Experiences Less

Counter-intuitive, perhaps, but studies show that the act of recording something for social media can actually take some of the enjoyment out of doing the thing you’re sharing. Whether it’s snapping a picture of a delicious dessert, or going to the zoo, studies show you will enjoy it less if you immerse yourself in the experience and don’t worry about sharing it with the world.

Perhaps this isn’t so counter-intuitive. Hard to truly enjoy something if you’re trying to get the perfect shot of your cake before you eat it, and are then worrying how many people will “like” your post and if it’ll be seen as “cool” enough.

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2. You Can Miss Out on the Experience Altogether

Research corroborates what most of us know or have witnessed. That parent too busy trying to get the perfect pictures that they don’t enjoy their child’s first birthday. They’re so busy trying to take pictures of all the cool things happening that they don’t participate. 

Except, social media takes this so much farther. Suddenly all of life’s events must be documented, and the person doing the documenting is missing out.

3. You Do Things You Know You Shouldn’t for the “Like”

I haven’t been on social media long enough to experience this personally, but I ’m not even going to Google how many people died last year taking dangerous selfies. Or what those selfies were.

But think about that. People have died taking selfies.

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4. Instagram Life

Rather than focusing on the good moment, the parts of life that enrich us and nourish us, social media can lure us into focusing on the moments that look good. We spend time chasing the Instagram-worthy times and miss out on some of the very best parts.

I can see this happening if you do post a lot on social media. You’ll never see a picture of me snuggled up in the recliner with both of my girls on my lap and all of us still in our jammies. But let me tell you, it’s my favorite part of the weekend when I can get it, and I’m going to miss it desperately when my girls are “too old” to snuggle.

5. Problematic for Relationships

  75% of people have admitted to being rude and disconnected because of their phone. This results in later feelings of guilt, regret, disappointment or embarrassment. Here’s a sign posted on a daycare door, per my Facebook friends.

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I can’t even imagine . . .  I normally have drop-off duty, but when I do get to pick up my girls instead, the joy of their faces makes whatever happened that day melt away. My preschooler can’t wait to tell me about her day, and my toddler is singing momma, momma and clinging to my leg. To miss out on that, for whatever’s on my phone . . . Please, please take a hammer a to my phone first.

6.  Social Media Feeds Envy

Particularly Facebook, makes people envious of others.  The reason this is particularly true of Facebook is that those in our social network are perceived like us. While you may “follow” JK Rowling or Stephen King or even the President of the United States on Twitter, Facebook tends to be fillwed with people we think of as peers. If all we see are their accomplishments, and never their failures or set-backs, people start to feel lesser about their own achievements.

In a society already inundated with marketers trying to make us feel unworthy unless we buy their product, this is the last thing I need.

Makes me wonder if this related to #4.  If all you ever see if other people’s Instagram life, or the special moments they post on Facebook, you may think that’s the entirety of their life. When, in fact, there’s still dishes to do, laundry to fold, and floors to sweep. 

7. Social Media Makes People Lonelier

My first thought when I read this was that maybe they weren’t doing a solid scientific study. Perhaps lonelier people were naturally drawn to social media. But they’d thought of that and proved that lonelier people aren’t drawn to social media in the first place.

So if you weren’t lonely in the first place, why would experiencing social media make them lonely? There’s some speculation that the lack of deep and meaningful relationships on social media is the driving cause behind this. While social media interactions tend to be more plentiful, they also tend to be more superficial and less fulfilling than other interactions.

Unless, of course, you’re in-person interactions are like those of the parents the daycare posted about.

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8. Social Media Causes Depression

Even just “lurking” can cause negative emotions. Given that depression is the leading cause of disability in the US for people between the ages of 15 and 44, anything to reduce this disease is desirable.

 

9. Social Media is Addictive

Of course it’s addictive.There’s a reason why we keep coming back to it over and over again. Companies like Facebook spend a lot of money keeping it that way. They know what lures us on, what keeps us clicking. Social media companies are for profit organizations. They make money by keeping you on their site. They know how to get your brain to give you a hit of that oh so good dopamine, you know, the neurotransmitter involved in pleasure.

It’s why Candy Crush is worth $6 billion. They know how to get you to spend money on a game one step above solitaire. And how to keep you doing it.

10. Social Media is Boring

Addictive, but boring. I can see this. I’m only half engaged on most social media platforms, anyway. Skimming through feeds, looking for stuff to click “like” on without spending too much time looking at any one thing.

Interestingly, according to the study, boredom is part of what keeps bringing us back.

We’re bored, so might as well check Facebook. We’re still bored, might as well go check Twitter…

 

 

How about you?  What’s your relationship with Social Media? Do you feel like it enriches your life, or is it a time thief? Maybe somewhere in between? Ever suffer from any of the downsides research has shown us social media has?  How did you deal with them?

Author Platform and Social Media

I’ve taken a class or two on social media for authors. It’s why I made myself join Facebook and Twitter, but I’m not sure if I’m maximizing what I’m doing. 


As I’m basically going to be re-doing my Facebook and Twitter pages, I’d love to start with a solid step-by-step plan aimed at beginners. I’m an introvert and the only reason I’m putting myself out there is for my writing.

I’d prefer a book to another class as I have two little kids, but if the class is truly excellent, I’ll work with DH to be able to take it.

If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them!