Open Space

By Lori Welch Brown

I’m calling it quits and I’m not a quitter, per se. I had a really hard time quitting smoking because basically I was one of those really sexy smokers—you know like Carrie Bradshaw or Ingrid Bergman. And let me tell you, laugh if you will, but Virginia Slims were much more glamorous than any e-cig. You can’t even tap the end and send a blaze of burning ember flying and/or emphatically stub out a butt mid smoke. Trying waving your hands dramatically gripping a vape.  Vaping Man will not be replacing the Marlboro Man anytime soon. But, I digress. Awhile back I decided to step away from Facebook. I was getting a little carried away—I wasn’t even ‘liking’ things any more. I was LOVING everything. Heart this, heart that—wishing “happy birthday” to friends of friends. Time for a break so I deleted the app from my phone. Within a day, I had downloaded Instagram and ‘voila!’, a whole new world was calling my name! Within minutes, I was following some beloved friends and then BAM! I was on to following full-on-A list celebs. I followed Oprah and Gayle as they vacationed across the globe, met Ellen and Portia’s pups and had a backstage pass to Meghan and Harry’s nuptials.

Like cigarettes, social media fills voids and soothes us in some strange way. Like any other addiction, it feeds something, but it also produces anxiety. Social media makes it easy to connect, but also to compare. And, it’s one thing to compare your weekend plans to your roommate’s, but a little dangerous when you start comparing them to JLo’s. Thanks to Instagram, I can compare myself not only to JLo, but Reese Witherspoon, Kate Hudson, Oprah, and Maria Shriver in the span of 17 seconds. They are ‘influencers’ and they are influencing me to drink green smoothies, join book clubs, wear Valentino couture, travel to Morocco, build a school and run for public office by noon each day.

It starts out quite innocently. I signed on under the guise of breaking away from some of the political stuff, videos and advertisements clogging up my Facebook feed. Instagram seemed so much cleaner, simpler. I wanted to follow some fellow writers and budding artists. I wasn’t going to fall prey to cute kitten videos and personality quizzes. I wasn’t looking to give myself cat eyes and floral halos or have messages vanish within hours of posting. I merely wanted to see what other creatives were doing and get some inspiration. Fast forward a day and suddenly I’m a voyeur to the lifestyles of the rich and famous and I can’t stop looking! I’ve invited another time suck into my life, and it’s time to break up!

A year from now, everything you are stressing about won’t even matter. —Power of Positivity

Amen to that except it’s not only the rep carpet folks stressing me out. At any given second, I also have access to thousands of people who are changing the world. Kittenxlady has 783k followers and has saved hundreds of adorable kittens from God knows what unimaginable fate before I’ve even had my first sip of coffee. What have I done lately? Dropped some worn out sneakers off to Goodwill? If that weren’t enough, I now have to be concerned with how many people are following me which basically equates to how interesting/entertaining/worthy of living I am. Brother tabby kittens PhilipandWinston wake up, roll over and purr and have 26k followers. So many cute kittens, so little time. Damn those cute kittens! For the record, I have thumbs, a decent credit score, good taste in wine, and yet I struggle to break 100. #truestory

Social media is supposed to be fun and mostly it is—on good days for happy people. On bad days for not-so-happy people, it can be a prescription for disaster. Constant. Comparing. All the access to celebrity. It’s fun to spy in on JLo and A-Rod’s relationship, but is any relationship ever going to compare? They have Brad and Angelia beat for god’s sake. Will I ever look like JLo in a bathing suit or be photographed sunning myself on a 3,000 foot mega yacht? No and I’m still sore from trying to parrot her workout.  If only I had a pair of those outrageously cute leggings though…

The moment you accept yourself, you grow. —Xan Oku

I appreciate all the inspirational quotes. Truly, I do. But, shouldn’t I actually be spending my time writing if I want to be a better writer vs. perusing Instagram for inspirational quotes about writing? I have come across a lot of great ideas and tips from fellow artists, but it is easy to fall into the trap of  “I’ll never be THAT good” or worse, she’s been painting for 30 years. I’ll be in my 80s. What’s the poi;.nt? Ugh.

I allow myself to have a pity party, without guilt, if I need one. —Daily OM

Thank you, Daily OM. It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to but who wants to spend their party crying? Not me!

What’s the answer? Moderation? Self-control? Self-discipline? Unfollow everyone except the cute kittens? Pray that we make America great again and go back to posting what we are eating for dinner? I guess social media is healthier than smoking, but I am starting to think it should come with a warning label from the Surgeon General’s office.

Happy Halloween!

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