I Deleted My Facebook For 7 Days

Ok, so I am definitely straying a bit from my brand with this, BUT I think it is somewhat connected to this suddenly popular travel/nomad lifestyle. Every single person with a social media account should be able to relate.

Welcome to the 21st century! It has become completely normal to have everything including your dirty laundry hung out to dry on the internet. What would be absolutely terrifying to someone in 1901, is now the social norm. In fact, people who aren’t using social media are laughed at, and seldom taken seriously.

I tried something. I deleted my Facebook for 7 days. That’s nothing, I know, but I realized how much of our lives depend on social media now.  Here is what I discovered:

  1. The most common source of all news is Facebook.
  2. A HUGE amount of human interaction nowadays takes place on Facebook.
  3. I had less anxiety and depression and it actually cured a lot of my insecurities for the 7 days I disconnected.
  4. People are more likely to look at their phone than have a conversation with someone sitting across the table, or on the other side of the couch.
  5. Being without social media is lonely.

I was back on Facebook the second my week was over. I of course have some excuses as to why, BUT really none of that matters. One of the things I noticed more than anything was that I felt extremely lonely. I realized that I have isolated myself and my friendships are superficial, because it’s only through a screen. I realized Brandon and I spend more time on our phones looking at a newsfeed than we do talking to each other, doing things together, or just interacting at all.

It’s a catch-22 though. I feel less alone on my social media accounts, but the second all of that is taken away I realize how alone I really am. Everything revolves around taking the best photo to post on Instagram or Facebook. Downloading the newest apps like boomerang, or Tik-Tok to just keep up with everyone else, but is keeping up with everyone else really helping?

Travel blogs and other travel accounts are always so inspirational, and I get how hypocritical this is coming from someone who writes about travel themselves, but it’s also seriously depressing. A lot of people don’t know how to save money traveling and can’t afford to travel due to personal circumstances, and I think that is awful. Everyone should be able to travel. Don’t even get me started on the price of plane tickets, because it’s a rip off.

As a healthcare worker I have noticed 3 things in my short time working in a primary care clinic. Depression is an epidemic. Whether it is related to social media or not, the majority of the population feels inadequate and terrible about themselves and their lives. I can’t help but feel that addiction to social media plays at least a small part in this. Two years ago we were not screening for suicide unless a patient came in for depression or mentioned it during a visit. Today, more and more clinics are starting to screen at every single visit, and you know what? More and more people are being diagnosed with crippling depression and many people have SI (suicidal ideations).

Taking a break from my Facebook account even though it was only for a week, opened my eyes and showed me that there is so much more than just flexing about your life on social media or playing into everyone else doing the same. The truth is, what people post is a very small part of their lives and many people are hiding their sadness behind selfies of themselves and photos of them out partying with friends every night.

This experiment was very personal to me. I have been struggling with my own depression related to my self image as well as some other personal health struggles. I disassociate myself from my friends, my family and my husband frequently. Depression is very real for me and social media is a huge trigger. Seeing everyone else posting happy, perfect family photographs is hard to swallow. There are nights I don’t sleep and days I sleep for over 18 hours. There are days I go without eating and days I eat everything in sight. There are weeks I feel like I can take on the world and weeks I feel like a zombie just going through the motions with no feeling.

Deleting Facebook helped me regroup, rethink my future and look at things in a more positive light. Deleting Facebook for 7 days in no way cured my depression, but it made me feel like there might be a light at the end of the tunnel.

I want to urge everyone to deactivate your Facebook occasionally, even if only for a day here and there. If you don’t want to deactivate you can always delete it off your phone for a while and just spend time with the people around you. Go out on a date with your spouse, go on a cell phone free vacation, go out and see a national or state park, enjoy the outdoors, and find some light in your life that doesn’t come from your cell phone or computer screen. Whatever your insecurities are, whatever triggers your depression or anxiety, taking a break from social media can help you refocus your attention on what matters. Of course, there is also a lot of GOOD that social media has brought and I’m not saying it’s all bad, but there is also definitely nothing wrong with taking a break a few times a year to ensure your sanity. Especially if you are being constantly triggered by everything around you.

If you do not feel safe, or are in a bad place and need help,
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Click here to donate and help end the fight for life: AFSP.org 
Click here to better understand depression: Helpguide.org

The Cone Heard Around the World

IT STARTED OUT AS INNOCENT FUN.

In the fall of 2013 my dad convinced my mom to join us on a cross country road trip from New Jersey to Los Angeles in a C3 camper. I was stoked to be able to explore so much of the country that I have never seen. We were going to go to all of the big state parks in the north west like Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, the Redwood national forest, and more. I could not wait to get out and see everything I had read about in social studies classes all through elementary school.

My dreams were crushed when two days into our trip. I was staying with my sorority sister from Ohio State on my parent’s anniversary and I got a news alert that the government had shut down. I was devastated. Not only were we not allowed in the parks now, but what was the point of driving all this way for nothing? We had only made it to Ohio so far and we were at least a day or two out from South Dakota depending on where we would stop to sleep. My parents picked me up the next morning, I was hung over, wearing the same clothes as the night before, and I probably smelled.

I went into the camper bathroom and tried to puke but couldn’t so I put my head phones in, sat in the passenger seat next to my dad and giggled to myself as I listened to “Iowa Stubborn” from the Music Man while we drove across Iowa (Don’t worry you can click the link to see what song I am talking about so you can laugh too). As beautiful as fly over states are, there is a reason when you are trying to get from point A to point B you fly. Highways in flyover states are seriously a drag. Although the first hour and a half was pretty entertaining, that shit gets old quick and you can only make so many “corny” jokes.

THINGS STARTED TO GET WEIRD.

We stopped briefly at the Corn Palace just to say that we did it and then made our way to the Badlands National Park… even though it was closed. Here is where things got a bit interesting. My dad slowed down when we came up to the entrance and realized there was not a single person around. With the rangers all off work we decided to take our chances and my dad drove over the cones and into the park. We hadn’t come all this way for nothing.

We pulled off at a parking lot that was coned off and my dad and I started snapping a few pictures. I snapped a photo of myself giving a thumbs up next to the “this national park service is closed” sign and said it would be funny if my dad threw a cone and mom took a photograph. My dad started laughing and we took a few action shots of him throwing the cone until we got the perfect picture with the cone in the air above his head.

MY DAD THINKS HE IS A CELEBRITY.

My mom and I posted a photo on Facebook and I captioned it “‘This national park service is closed. Oh yeah? You and what government workers are going to stop me?'”. A family joke meant to be shared between us and friends would soon be plastered all over Facebook and we had no idea.

First, someone made a meme out of my caption and the photograph. Then, the meme was posted on twitter and Fox News was tagged in the photo. By the time we reached California someone from Fox News had tweeted it, put it on Facebook, and wrote a blog post about it. Over 100,000 likes and shares later, my mom’s phone had imploded from constant messages, likes, and shares. The entire time we were in Los Angeles my dad kept talking about ‘getting an agent’ and saying he was being ‘recognized’ everywhere to make my mom and I laugh.

I am not even joking with you when I say how serious it is that you pay attention to what you put on the internet because one embarrassing photograph could very well be EVERYWHERE within 24 hours. One thing most people don’t even consider when they think about people in the spot light, is that you receive a massive amount of hate mail. People who have never met you have serious personal opinions about you. If this should ever happen to you, the best thing to do is to not read any of it. The negativity seriously isn’t worth any of your time at all. Don’t waste your energy and give in to angry people sitting behind a computer.

If you think I was joking about any or all of this story I am not because here is a direct link to the twitchy site written by a Fox News journalist who shared everything on her Facebook page.

Somewhat Langered and Not Sorry.

In March of 2012 I was a junior in college and I was completely miserable. I kept myself busy by being an active member of my sorority and studying for organic chemistry (which despite my perseverance, I would not pass that semester). I had met Brandon, my husband, about 4 months prior playing beer pong in a college dorm room, but we still didn’t have a label and it had been 5 months of seeing each other. My roommates bailed on me for my midnight 21st birthday plans and I was devastated that I wouldn’t have any plans. I was going to be missing my entire 21st birthday because of the time change flying to Ireland with my study abroad class, so I really wanted to do something over night in Atlantic City. Luckily, my friends from home pulled off a great night despite all the set backs.

One thing I don’t recommend doing is getting on a 7 hour plane ride to Ireland hung over. I puked at least 7 times on what was arguably the worst plane ride of my life. Since my roommates bailed I had a few friends from home that promised to take me out. I got plastered and ended up face down in a plate of chicken tenders double fisting margaritas in a buffet in Atlantic City at 4am. We ended up stuck in the city because there was a storm and the road leaving the city to go home was underwater. Upon hearing this from my friend who was a bit frantic I yelled, “YOLO” and continued to chug my margaritas. Needless to say I felt like death for the 24 hours that followed. I tried to sleep on the plane but that was not working because I was puking every 45 minutes. I barely remember the airport in Dublin. The first vivid memory I remember having was on the bus to the first hotel. I looked out my window and saw a side street, the sun barely past the tops of the row homes, and I felt like I was in a movie because it looked so cliché Europe. I snapped a photo so I wouldn’t forget and posted it to my Instagram account with an embarrassingly terrible filter.

ireland side street

“My first memorable moment of Ireland”

I remembered in middle school my French teacher talked to us about elevators being a luxury in hotels, but I forgot about it until we got to our first hotel in Dublin right on the River Liffey. I hauled my two suitcases up to my room on the 3rd floor while I tried not to vomit. Our professor told us not to go to bed so we would get use to the time change but screw that. I slept for a good six hours until dinner and I was not sorry.

We ate in the hotel that night and the food was better than literally anything I’ve ever eaten in the United States. There aren’t words in the English language that could describe the mashed potatoes I ate. Perfect. God. Delicious. It might have been my hangover talking, but I would trade my arms in for a plate of those mashed potatoes right about now.

After dinner we went out. By “we” I mean about 6 of the girls. We all walked down O’Connell street and found the temple bar district. One thing I learned is to order rounds if you are with a large group because the bartenders are ridiculously overwhelmed. They get really pissed when you order 6 different ones drinks at once. Also, if you can stick to beer and shots, do that. Skip the cocktails. It’s customary to take turns buying the rounds rather than everyone paying separately. So if you’re with a group suck it up and take turns buying rounds, the bar tender will thank you.

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After 3 beers and however many slippery nipple shots we ended up in a McDonald’s where we were soon escorted out by police. My friend Megan was (as the Irish would say) langered and jumping and dancing on tables inside. The customers seemed to find it amusing, but the manager and the angry bald headed cop did not. So we finished drunk eating McDonald’s cross legged on the statue out front.

The next few days we walked around the college, saw a few monuments, saw an old prison Kilmainham Gaol (I write a little bit about that here!) which was terrifying and probably haunted by little kids from the famine, St. Patrick’s cathedral (if you haven’t been there, GO.) and went to the Guinness brewery (which is a must see! There is nothing like drinking a Guinness and looking out over all of Dublin!).

guinnessgravitybar

Gravity Bar is located at the very top of the Guinness Brewery in Dublin and has 360 degree views of the city.

We went to Belfast next from what I remember.  We saw Bushmills distillery and drank 30 year old whiskey and bought a phone cases in a local “pound shop” which is the UK version of a dollar store. Coincidentally it was much nicer than any dollar store I’d ever been in. We also went to a really cool bar/night club there where the ground floor is a pub and the first floor is a night club. I had a beer spilled all over me and we got in a fight with some guy who kept calling us “dumb fat Americans” so he got a few drinks thrown in his face. Around 11pm the lights turned on and we watched as a skinny pale guy ran through the crowd butt naked with 3 policemen struggling to run after him. He was ultimately tackled to the ground. #OnlyInIreland

 

We ended up in Derry next which was really cool too. Another thing I learned is that as a tourist just call it Derry. Do not call it Free Derry or London Derry because then you are picking a side in a heated argument you don’t want to be a part of. Most of our teaching moments came here. If you aren’t familiar with Ireland and it’s recent history, Derry is the site of the Battle of the Bogside between the Catholics and Great Britain. This was one of the very first conflicts during “the troubles”. We received a tour starting at the church where the Catholics descended on their march  and then ended  down to where the blood bath took place and then into a museum which contained artifacts from the battle as well as letters from the British army to the families of those killed. The buildings along this path are painted with controversial and political murals by Bobby Sands who led our tour. The tour was amazing and extremely well done.

 

On our way back to Dublin we stopped at Giant’s Causeway which is made up of beautiful cliffs and strangely shaped rocks surrounded by legend. There are a few different versions of the story, but the one I was taught says that a giant named Finn McCool was angry at another giant in Scotland  Benandonner. Finn decided to take huge chunks of the cliffs and throw them into the water so he could cross and teach him a lesson. Benandonner turns out to be much bigger than Finn and so Finn retreats. When benandonner shows up to challenge him Finn’s wife disguises him as their child and Benandonner leaves assuming that because the child is so large, Finn must be gigantic. The rocks are what was left over of the crossing from centuries ago. In reality, the rocks were probably formed from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago, but locals continue to tell the stories and believe the myths. This was, by far, the most amazing part of my travels. There is just something about millions of years old natural rock formations that get me every single time.

We shortly thereafter returned to Dublin and we packed for our journey home the next morning. I was devastated and did not want to leave. We had so much fun with our tour guide, I can’t remember his name for the life of me, but he was fantastic. One of my favorite moments includes him taking a coffin off the wall, jumping inside, pretending to be dead, and reenacting an Irish Funeral in the middle of a restaurant in Dublin. I had fallen in love with the city of Dublin, the people, and the history of Ireland. I knew that I had to return.

Fast forward 8 years later and here I am. Planning a return visit with my Husband Brandon, my parents, and my in-laws for Brandon’s 30th Birthday. I am so overjoyed that I will get the chance to share this country with the people I love. We have a lot of really fun things planned and will even get to explore a little bit of my husband’s ancestry.

If you have had any experience with Galway, Hook Head, or the Cliffs of Moher, OR if you know any really good places to eat in Dublin comment below! We would love to try them.

Check out my gallery of all of my Ireland photographs below. I apologize for the poor quality. It was 2012 and the iPhone camera wasn’t the greatest.