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It was after the second presidential debate—after I was four hours late in giving the Beast his medication—that I knew I had a problem.

My alarm had gone off at eight that night, just like it does every morning and night, to remind me to give him his heart medication—a rock-solid cocktail that keeps his heart steady, his blood pressure level, his fluids from building up, and all of us happy to have yet another glorious day together. But at eight o’clock that night, we were in the middle of dinner.  I turned the alarm off and promised to administer them when we were done.

Then the debate happened.  Then Charlie Rose.

The debate at Hofstra University.

Try as I might to get away from it all, I’m a hardcore political junkie.  I blame my parents for this and told them as much four years ago in an email I sent to them on Election Eve. I honestly remember my father carrying me in the voting booth when Jimmy Carter was running against Gerald Ford (do the math, I’m that old), pulling the lever to draw the curtain, and casting his ballot.  I remember when John Anderson ran as an Independent against Jimmy Carter, the incumbent, and Ronald Reagan.  No one remembers John Anderson.

Visual approximation of John Anderson because, really, who remembers?

I’ve tried to sit out some years—2004 was exhausting—but, like Michael Corleone, they keep pulling me back in.  Then Twitter changed everything. Now, not only can I be informed at lightning speed, I can be quippy while doing it.  For 90 minutes on debate night, I furiously tweeted and retweeted, I conversed and retorted. By midnight, I was befuddled and wired.  I got in a few funny digs, a couple of witticisms, some new follows, and—oh, shit!—I forgot to give the dog his medication!  For as wound up as I was, the Beast was peacefully snoring on the floor where he’d been resting for the past four hours.

Granted, the onus is on me to tend to my dog, but the Beast is pretty good about showing up right at eight.  He’ll plant himself in front of me and stare until I look at the clock and realize it’s time for his medication.  He didn’t do it that night.  I’m not putting the blame on him (or Charlie Rose, whose recap show I watched after the debate), but I’m not sure it was entirely my fault.

“It’s time!”

Possibly to blame?

I fed the Beast his meds immediately and he was perfectly fine the next day, though my guilt was pretty unbearable.  I realized I’d grown too accustomed to social media.  Yes, Facebook and Twitter are great for keeping me connected, but I began to wonder if the sense of urgency they brought was real or imagined.

In truth, I was getting kind of sick of all this social media-ness. I’d lost my cool when yet another Facebook friend started Vague-Booking—Facebook code for leaving a vague status, like “Oh my god,” with no explanation and a dozen concerned comments from friends that read, “What’s wrong?,” “Hugs to you,” “Thinking of you and your family.”  Plus, the pictures of food were becoming ridiculous.  Seriously!  Why are we all now taking pictures of our food?? Some pics, like those from my good friend The Domestic Badass, are appetizing and acceptable, but bad lighting on a bowl of mac-n-cheese will make me de-friend you.

I’ll admit, too, that I was part of the problem. My political posts, posturing, and put-downs were a turnoff to most everyone.  With my rants on same-sex marriage, women’s health, and the hypocrisy of the GOP, I’d likely only helped people decide that I was lunatic—not for what I said, necessarily, but for how I said it.  My Ego fell in love with some of my amusing posts or photos, and I lived and died (digitally) by people’s responses, hitting the “refresh” button to see how many more “liked” it.  Did they think it was funny?  Did so-and-so see it and comment?  Did that person retweet me?  Aren’t I so clever and witty?  The Ego-Monster was taking over my life, one status at a time.


“You need a digital cleanse,” said my BFF in Cali when I told her I was going offline for the weekend.  No hitting refresh on Facebook, no tweeting on Twitter.  Not even texting my boss to tell him I was having lunch at The Meatball Shop (yeah, we’re like that).  Email would be at a minimum, Pinterest was only for looking up recipes, and don’t even think of exploring Google+. My time, I vowed, would be spent with the Beast or writing or reading a book or catching up on work or, holy crap, enjoying life.  For a brief moment, I’d considered leaving a Facebook status that said something like, “Going offline this weekend if anyone wonders where I am,” but stopped myself before I hit “post.”

After shutting off the computer Friday night at six, the Hubs and I started what would be a wonderful weekend. We conversed. We explored. We relaxed.  Truthfully, there were moments when I felt compelled to share some of the things we were doing with friends or followers—the places I ate at, the events I checked out, the chores I was working on.  But then I wondered, Why would anybody give a shit if I’m making cornbread??

“It’s too bad this didn’t happen,” the Hubs teased me after a belated birthday dinner at the Algonquin Room*.  (*Okay, I had to share that because I think it was really nice and we sat at a round table.)  Like the proverbial tree in the forest, if my daily comings and goings weren’t posted on Facebook, did they even occur?  It became our running joke through Sunday:  So much never happened that weekend, and we had a great time doing it all.

Night of the Roundtable (Too bad it never happened!)

Two days before my digital cleanse, I met David Mitchell, the brilliant author of Cloud Atlas.  (Yes, I posted about it on Facebook.)  I can assure you, from our brief exchange, he is as funny and personable as he is talented.  I later asked his publicist if he was on Twitter.  She said he wasn’t.  “That’s probably why he’s such a good writer, huh?” I said, figuring that less time on social media means more time to be creative.  “Exactly,” she confirmed. This was a lesson that couldn’t simply be tweeted.

I returned to Facebook and Twitter on Monday, just in time for the final presidential debate—which was like going from 0 to 60 in five seconds.  All the reasons I had stayed away from social media came crashing through, and, not even 12 hours in, I’d already used the word “cooter” on a friend’s Facebook status.  Clearly, this is going to take some extra effort on my part. And, yes, I realize how “meta” it is to blog about about abstaining from social media.  And, of course, I’ll post a link to this post on Facebook.  And I vow to use social media in moderation from here on out. But, for now, can I get a retweet?

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