Jun 24

“Unfriending My Ex” by Kim Stolz: Digital Addiction

As someone whose identity has been forged by reality TV (as a contestant on America’s Next Top Model) and social media and mobile technology, Kim Stolz is deeply obsessed with the subject. She has a hard time putting her phone down. And yet she remembers what life was like before technology-induced ADD, before life had become a string of late-night texts, Snapchats, endless selfies, that sinking feeling you get when you realize you’ve hit reply all by mistake. It’s hard to imagine now, but there was once a time before we wasted a full hour emptily clicking through a semi-stranger’s vacation pictures on Facebook, a time before every ex, every meaningless fling was a mere click away. Publisher of Unfriending My Ex

I don’t know Kim Stolz, but apparently many do. Out Magazine recently called her a “power lesbian,” in fact.

The theme of her new book Unfriending My Ex: And Other Things I’ll Never Do involves giving up her technology-focused ways for a week. Publishers Weekly summarizes the results:

As she deals with her technology withdrawal, she investigates and considers the various effects of society’s (and particularly her generation’s) dependency upon technology, finding that texting and smartphones allow chatting without relationship-building, loneliness in spite of keeping in touch, and increased anxiety. She also finds that Facebook fosters jealousy, spying, and virtual affairs, and links the addiction to ADHD…Though Stolz writes with humor, her insights are nevertheless disturbing, particularly for 18–30-year-olds who check their smartphones before getting out of bed (and sometimes during sex).

In addition, Stolz’s book, according to Kirkus Reviews, includes “analyses and observations from sociologists, psychologists and clinicians who support her beliefs about social media addiction, and she glosses such topical jargon as ‘e-cheating,’ ‘iBrains’ and ‘digitally-acquired ADD.'”

Selected Reviews

Author Michael Cunningham: “Reading Kim Stolz’s riveting, haunting Unfriending My Ex, I found myself wondering, why did it take until 2014 – this many years into the technological revolution – for someone to write a book like this?”

Chris Hardwick, host of Comedy Central’s “@midnight” and author of “The Nerdist Way”:

As a self-confessed Web-aholic I am well aware that social networks have preyed upon humanity’s innate need to connect, and the result is nothing short of a planetary epidemic of info-addiction. We are not only content to live in the Matrix but are increasingly driven to be a cognitive cog in its functionality. Kim Stolz has the mind of a scientist in the body of Millennial. Her experiences on reality television and MTV have made her something of a Jane Goodall of digital culture: she lives among them, ever observant, to catalog and understand their behavior patterns while attempting to determine the landscape of Mankind’s future. On its present course, the signs seem to indicate ‘not great.’

Roger Rosenblatt, author of Rules for Aging: A Wry and Witty Guide to Life:

In Unfriending My Ex, Kim Stolz gives us a clear-eyed, exceptionally intelligent look at a phenomenon at once mystifying and unavoidable. The thrall in which social media holds us feels so enchanting, we may be losing control of the most valuable parts of our lives to it. The author, while respectful of both progress and of her generation, seeks to restore that control. Here is the work of a grown-up young woman, hip enough to live successfully in the world as it is, yet thoughtful enough to identify its follies and delusions. If our times may be defined by a smart phone, we should be grateful that Unfriending My Ex is a hell of a lot smarter.

Sep 06

Five Life Lessons That Might Surprise You (“Psychology Today”)

Below are some highlights of the five life lessons listed in a recent Psychology Today article, Lessons For Living: Five Surprising Principles for Living, Loving, and Playing Well With Others,” by Elizabeth Svoboda and Colin Weatherby.

  1. Lesson #1: The Role of Radical Acceptance—You can’t fix the ones you love, so focus on fixing yourself.  “…(W)hen you don’t see eye to eye in a relationship you want to keep: ‘Look inward to fix the problem rather than trying to change the other person,’ says Northwestern University psychologist Eli Finkel—even if that just means practicing acceptance,” write the authors. Info from Paul Coleman‘s book “We Need to Talk”: Tough Conversations with Your Spouse is also cited.
  2. Lesson #2: The Beauty of Benign Neglect—It’s more harmful to overparent than to underparent. Resources used for this principle include Hara Estroff Marano‘s A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting and David Elkind‘s The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children. Michelle Givertz, assistant professor of Communication Studies, California State University at Chico, “…found that age-inappropriate overparenting leads to depression-prone, aimless kids (and ultimately, adults) with ‘diminished self-efficacy,’ lacking the ability to put a plan in place to achieve goals…” Another outcome of parental overinvolvement is that kids develop an increased sense of entitlement.
  3. Lesson #3: Opposites Don’t Forever Attract—Seek a mate whose values and background echo your own. This is supported by a compatibility questionnaire developed by psychologist Glenn Wilson, Gresham College, London. The writers of the article add: “Still, regardless of how well the two of you score on compatibility tests, you need to feel a spark of attraction—something that can actually come from the differences between your partner’s interests and passions and your own…”
  4. Lesson #4: Social Networks Matter—The strength of your friendships is as critical for your health as the lifestyle choices you make. Multiple studies have supported this idea, including research by Bert Uchino, psychologist, University of Utah; by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Brigham Young University; and by Sheldon Cohen, Carnegie Mellon University. “Researchers speculate that the stress associated with low social support sets off a cascade of damaging reactions within the body, including cardiovascular dysfunction and weakened immune resistance. ‘Stress has potentially negative effects on health and well-being,’ Cohen says, but knowing your friends have your back can help prevent such fallout.”
  5. Lesson #5: Lust Diminishes, But Love Remains—Being inured to your partner isn’t the same as being out of love. Several books are cited: David Schnarch, Intimacy & Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your RelationshipHoward Markman, Fighting For Your Marriage; and Harriet Lerner, Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up. One significant conclusion:  “…Focus on the lasting bonds that remain in the relationship. Rather than asking yourself, ‘Am I still in love with my partner?’ try asking, ‘What can I do to restore our connection?'”

If anything above has sparked your interest about life lessons, you can go to this link.