Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Week Off Social Media

Off Facebook for a week and it’s a mixed bag of emotions and experiences. For starters, the number of times I pick up my phone and swipe to the Facebook app, as my brain says “Let’s check Facebook” followed by the thousandth realization that it’s not there, is downright creepy. I grab for my phone constantly and 9 out of 10 times, my brain seeks social media. And when I land on the screen where my apps used to live, I don’t just leave the phone. I find the next distraction. Weather, news, audio, games… It’s one thing to listen to Pandora on a car ride, but reading the news while walking the dog is not necessary and a poop hazard. The next step of this experiment will be to limit my phone use overall because I can feel the phone pulling on my psyche almost as much as I felt social media’s tractor beams.

The next realization is that I miss Facebook and I miss social media, but not that much. I feel a little more isolated and lonely, but I’m more aware of the richness of the in-person relationship as opposed to the quick dopamine tickle of a social media alert. Nevertheless, I do feel the dreaded Fear of Missing Out. I just need to keep focused on the fact that I’m mostly missing out on a noise of chaos and/or celebration that doesn’t really matter to my top priorities at the moment.

I have to make a confession. I’ve already found ways to incorporate Twitter and Instagram into this blog. This is technically a social media cheat, but let’s look at this in the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law. My goal is to not get caught up in the topic/crisis/celebration de jour of the social media experience. So, with that in mind, I unfollowed almost everyone. Now my Twitter feed is plugged into The Daddy Experience so I can post short ideas and they can pop up here. I also created a photos page with my most recent Instagram photos. If I can use these as tools without being sucked into the void, I feel like I’m on the right track.

Family and close friends still want to know “what’s up with The Galans,” so Nicole and I started a very small 23Snaps account. It allows us to have a mini-FB with our very close family and friends who are actually interested in seeing pictures of my kids without them being available to the ogling public. I’ve debated going onto Facebook to remove pictures, but I’m still on the fence. I haven’t missed posting, but I’ve missed sharing. This Daddy Experience and 23Snaps should quell that without me needing to constantly be tethered to everyone else’s thoughts.

Overall, I give disconnection with social media a 10 out of 10. That rating might change, but I doubt it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


For the last number of years, I woke up in the morning and immediately grabbed my phone to check Facebook. With my recent exodus from social media, there is no more Facebook or twitter or anything to view with my morning eyes. Nevertheless, my conditioned mind still reaches for the phone and turns it on immediately to be reminded that the apps are gone. But even without the social matrix, there are still endless notifications. Little red dots with numbers to indicate how many emails or text messages I’ve received between the hours of midnight and 7am. There is almost no human who emails me during these hours, but still, every morning, the reminders are there. There recollection that I requested a nudge. Nudges from vistaprint, Disney, Guitar Tricks (I practice guitar for about 3 weeks each summer), picMonkey, amazon and a cascade of other entities that I’ve allowed to invade my inbox with shallow reminders.

In the spirit of detaching from all of the noise, I’ve found pleasure in the “unsubscribe” function at the bottom of these emails. There is a service called Unroll.Me that will bulk unsubscribe you from all of your reminders. Last month, they notified me that I had a whopping 913 subscriptions. My jaw dropped. How could this be? There is no way I could have subscribed to all of these services and I don’t receive 913 unique emails each month. At least I don’t think that I do. It’s extremely tempting to push the button and let Unroll.Me do my dirty work, but I think it is important for me to manually click that unsubscribe button at the bottom of each email as they come in. I dug this hole and it’s my responsibility to climb out. I’ve become so conditioned to react in the way the internet tells me to react, and I’ve clearly allowed my brain to be rewired. However, what can be programmed in one direction can certainly be unprogrammed, and then reprogrammed in a different direction.

So, moving forward, I’m taking back my inbox. I’m manually deleting all of the subscriptions that I don’t really need (which is most). I’m reinforcing my decision one click at a time and forming new pathways in my brain that favor simplicity, minimalism and detachment. Even more importantly, I’m leaving my phone in the kitchen at night, so that my morning routine no longer starts with a screen and a little red notification. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Galans of Updates

Ridding my life of social media comes with the consequence of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. All of the positives of social media must be sacrificed to accommodate the benefits of burning social media to the ground. Some family and friends are still interested in seeing my children grow and there are plenty of fans of my San Diego performance career that would like to know my schedule and thoughts on improv and clowning. That being the case, I will use The Daddy Experience Blog once again to post updates and pictures and thoughts that probably would have found their way onto social media, without subjecting myself to the cesspool of negativity that repelled me.

New Car

We bought a new car this past weekend! I hate buying cars, but I love driving away with a new car. This weekend’s purchase wasn’t exactly a new car, but it was so close. We used a website called True Car, which filtered cars down to the price, year, make, model, mileage and location, which resulted in a 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan with 32000 miles for $15,999 just about 25minutes from us. It was the first car we looked at, and we bought it. This means we are idiots, but even idiots can luck out sometimes. It has a little wear and tear, needs floor mats and a second key and a roof rack, but for $10,000 in savings, it made sense.

Used car salesman are just about as proud to represent their stereotypes as are DMV employees. It is almost like they’re found in central casting and only playing the roles of salesperson. He gave us a hard sell, but I figured, how bad can a 2016 with 32000 miles be? I guess I’ll find out. Either way, it was a necessity. The kids are getting bigger, and in 2018 we are doing a mega-trip from July 1-31 to Vegas, Salt Lake City, Yellowstone, and the 5 Utah national parks. It should be extremely fun or a valid reason to have us checked by psychiatrists.

Oh yeah, we also had a baby last year. Another boy…Hunter. He is a real sweet heart, but he sleeps in my bed and for the last year I’ve been relegated to the couch. Kind of a dick move, but I love him anyway. Enough updates for now…more to come.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Why I Left Facebook

One thing that I can tell you, is when you make a proclamation that you are leaving Facebook, many, many, many people will ask you “Why are you leaving Facebook?” It’s almost like you are saying, “I’ve decided to electively remove my leg from the calf down.” I get it. I’ve had very close friends leave Facebook, and I’ve wondered if they were losing their mind. Why would anyone want to turn their back on the best tool for connection ever known to mankind. And aren’t I the biggest hypocrite by posting on a blog, which if I remember correctly, has a Facebook page. Yeah, probably, but I have my reasons, and anyone who cares to know can read them here.

Reason #1: The Attachment

I left Facebook, but that is only part of the story. I actually left all social media. As the eight years of Facebook have passed by, I’ve realized I’m not just on Facebook. There is Instagram, and snapchat, twitter, and musically and linkedIn and a slew of other social media sights that slowly drag us into their bellies where we feel an obligation, or even an addition to checking, posting, and contributing to a low return game that demands hours each day, or at the very least a commitment to interrupt the real world with segue into the digital.

In Buddhism, the first noble truth is that there is suffering. The second is that suffering is a result of attachment. Social Media has not made me happy. In fact, my attachment to Facebook and the like has done the opposite. Social Media makes me suffer. It pulls me away from my children, my wife, and the simplicity of life that makes life worth living. It’s become an addiction of sorts and as I realize this truth, it becomes overwhelmingly obvious that the drug of Facebook and social media has a very low return on investment. In the last 8 years, I cannot say that I am a happier person because of by compulsive attachment to social media.

Reason #2: The Division

The world is becoming more divided. Social media cloaks itself as the great unifier, but in reality, it divides us. When I joined social media, I was amazed that I could connect with family and friends far and away who I didn’t see or hear from in years. I never questioned, “Why?” Why would I want to connect with people from my childhood. Why the constant need to see pictures of the children of past girlfriends and mere acquaintances?  Why do I need to see the family vacation pictures from cousins whom I’ve never met? Why do I need to know all of your pain and success, and why do you need to know mine? I absorb the pain as my own, and become envious of the wins, which are only delivered as you prescribe. This isn’t a true picture of reality, but my emotional experience knows no difference.

I’ve realized that the closer I become, the further I get. We aren’t meant to have tribes of 2000, and the blurred experience never gives me clarity or perspective. Instead, what it provides is constant judgement. I judge your positives and negatives as though I’m some barometer for the universal condition, when in truth, we all suffer and we all succeed, but the social media lens through which we view this causes us to grow farther apart. You complain, I’m against you. You win, I’m against you. We are separate. I win or lose, and you feel the same disgust whether conscious or not.

Reason #3: The Echo Chamber Illusion

Quite simply, Social Media is an echo chamber. It reinforces our own beliefs by exposing us only to the media, ideas, and perspective that fits in our belief system. If a person or a company disagrees, we can choose to block, unfriend, or not “like” that particular point of view. Once we “like” or disengage, we continue to perpetuate a matrix in which we are continuously echoed with the opinions of our own mind. This eventually convinces us that we are correct and just and righteous in our own opinions. It eliminates subjectivity and creates an environment of “disagree with me even 1% and you are the enemy.”

In a world of 7 billion, surround yourself with the 1 million who agree with you 100% and you create a world of nearly 7 billion enemies.  The snake is eating its own tail in so many areas of society. Liberals fighting liberals. Conservatives fighting conservatives. If you don’t tow the exact line, you are deemed the enemy. I believe this is a product of social media. Maybe this is why the Russians, and the corporation and the powers that be know that they can control us by mirroring, splintering, and then leading us towards a separation that serves their own ends.

I’m done with the echo chamber. I’m done with suggested news. I’m done with reading the internet. My eyes will read paper and my fingers will turn pages rather than swiping a cracked glass screen. I want to learn more than what I know. I want to hear the other side. I want dissent, and I want to discuss and argue and think and feel without the label of “enemy.”

Reason #4: There’s an Alternative to the Unnatural Matrix

We are plugged in, almost constantly. For the last 8 years, I’ve spent nearly every bedtime and sunrise on social media. I’m drawn to it. I’ve wasted dinners with my family. I’ve wasted travel and time with my wife and playing with my children in order to compulsively check, brag, compare, and judge on social media. But it isn’t the real world. In the real world there are stars and heavens. We have cool breezes. We have music. Most people are good, kind and honest. We do not live in a world of predators. We live in a world of love, but the magnifying glass is focused on evil. Media tells us that we live in a pool of hate, but I believe if I disconnect and judge this universe by the character of the people I interact with on a daily basis, I will see the truth.

Yes, there will always be bad guys, but I want to truly see the accurate representation instead of believing I live in a poisoned world with no hope. At the very least, I want to disconnect from the system that is thinking for me by telling me what is what. I want to think for myself. I want to feed my mind with that of my choosing rather than listen to the noise of 2000 “friends.”

Stop Digging

When we find ourselves in a hole, the best thing to do is stop digging. In 8 years, social media has not made me a happy person. I feel more lonely. I feel more jealous. I feel close friends and family slipping away. I feel the “connectedness” promised by Facebook turned out to be superficial friendship with a side dish of isolation. I want connection and true friendship, even if it is with 5 humans and not 5000. I want to call and talk to my family instead of “liking” a post or wishing a Happy Birthday mindlessly on a website. I want debate for the purpose of learning rather than winning. I want the tested and true real life rather than this brave new world of disconnection, head sunken down, thumbs tapping away as the real friends, family and experience in front of me passes by.