“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. (For other out LGBT notables, see this previous post.)

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”: “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: “…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.”

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