Facebreak

Hi, my name is Gregg, and I’m addicted so social media.

So maybe not addicted, but I’ve been an abuser since August of 1995. Long before we called it “Social Media,” when I first signed up for AOL. Way back then, they used to charge members for access. It was $9.95 a month for five hours of access, with additional access costing $2.95 an hour. The amount I spent that first month, is truly humiliating, but my first bill was $450. Today, that’s the equivalent of $740. Of course, I had to cut back the second month. So my bill was $420. Oh, but since it was getting more popular, and Lawrence wasn’t a bubbling metropolis, I started using the Overland Park access number. Which, back then, required a long distance phone call. So my phone bill was also north of $300.

Being a bit of a nerd, I did a painful math exercise in 1998, when their stock hit a record high of $100.75 per share. This is off memory now, so these figures probably aren’t dead on balls accurate, but I figured out that if I had invested my first two months of AOL access fees on AOL stock, I would have made myself about $10,000. But it’s okay, after those first two brutal months, I quit AOL.

Well, I mean, I quit that account. I learned to sign up for a new, free account, every few weeks. I used fake names to sign up, and created new screen names on a regular basis. But I’m telling you, there should have been a Steve Case/AOL movie as a prequel to The Social Network. It was quite literally, a brand new world. At best, it was possibly a life-saver for me, but at the very least, it was life changing. I spent the previous 18 years, barely able to mumble through a sentence or two to a girl. But behind that keyboard, I found my voice. For a time, I was mocked by some friends for using a computer to meet girls, while some were genuinely worried about me. Now, I’m pretty sure technology is the preferred method for getting dates.

While the cyber world looks completely different from 1995, my usage never really waned. Using technology to meet people is a distant memory, but in the past 10 years or so, I’ve been able to use it to connect with family I hardly knew, keep old friends and always find people to argue with. But for the past few years, especially the last two, it hasn’t been as much fun. I can’t click on an interesting article anymore, scan down to the comments and see anything remotely close to an interesting conversation. Everything is great, or it’s the worst. And it’s all political, all the time. I tried purging my friend list, and muting some others, but the noise is always there. And I’ve never had the discipline to tune it out. I can’t make it through a television show, without stealing a glance at my phone. Which I used to feel helped my ADD, as it gave me a quick distraction, but now those distractions are mostly joyless.

So last night, I drew a hard line in the sand. And since its sand, this is just a trial period, but I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone. I’m not deleting the accounts, but for now, I want it to require some effort to catch up with that part of my world. My hope is, I’ll fill that void with new distractions that add something positive to my life. We’ll see what happens. Hell, maybe instead of retweeting someone else’s thoughts, I’ll start writing again. Don’t at me.