connected

No, I’m not asking a rhetorical question. Can we stay connected? Is it even possible?

Yesterday, I covered a number of troubling trends on the social giant, but we haven’t seen the worst. Facebook is designed to be addictive, but until I started reading quotes from some of its early founders, I had no idea HOW addictive. The LIKE button is a feedback loop, a shot of dopamine for the ego.

Facebook recently blamed users for feeling bad when they scrolled through their newsfeeds. Instead of lurking around posts about vacations, promotions, and successes, they claim we should post more of our own updates. You know, use the site more. Like telling a heroin addict to shoot up more for a better hit. Eventually, enough drug kills the user.

I seriously want to end my toxic relationship with Facebook before I become a mindless Zuckerbot.

But I’ve tried. I’ve tried different platforms. (People simply won’t invest in them. They’d rather stare up Facebook’s gonorrhea-infested asshole for hours every day.) I’ve tried more e-newsletters. (People don’t read them. Hell, I don’t read newsletters, either.) I’ve tried Facebook vacations, where I sometimes don’t log into the site for a month or more. (I miss certain people I only see there.)

We’re more connected than we’ve ever been. Yet, I feel lonelier than I ever have.

But I’m doing something about it.

I’m starting my own social network.

You read that correctly. I’m starting my own network in a place I own and control. In the coming weeks, I’m reaching out to everyone who matters to me, and I’m inviting them to join my social network.

What if nobody joins? Won’t I feel lonesome?

No.

People who care about me will join. Why am I even spending time keeping up with people who don’t? Plus, my social network will be federated with over a million people who’ve done the same thing. Joining my social network will link members with people all over the world who are just as fed up with social-media-as-usual.

And in my social network:

  1. Nobody will be tracking your activity. As long as you follow the rules, you can do whatever you want.
  2. Your personal information will not be sold. Not to advertisers. Not to ANYONE.
  3. The master system bans all of the following content: racism, fascism, overt advertising, harassment, trolling, and intolerance due to sexual orientation.
  4. Political posts can be made with a ‘show more’ feature.
  5. Users can post nudity and other content not suitable for work by using the NSFW button…..because I know everybody I’ll invite will want to post nekkid pictures.

I’ve lost track of the number of people who’ve told me how much they hate Facebook. Well, we can either be lazy and hate it while continuing to feed it. Or, we can find another alternative.

I HOPE YOU’LL JOIN MY SOCIAL NETWORK WHEN I INVITE YOU.

Already know you’d like to give it a try? Send your name and e-mail address to assistant(at)andrawatkins(dot)com. We’ll put you on the list and add you when it’s ready.

 

turbulence

If you’ve been following my online life, you know I’m the walking definition of a glamorous existence. Relaxing by the pool. Hobnobbing in casinos. Hiking new (to me) trails. Jetting to Europe. Scouring old palaces. Cementing friendships.

FACT: Most people only share the
“Don’t You Wish You Were Me”
bits of life on social media.

ALSO FACT: I’m like most people.

I dragged my glasses from my tuckered face near midnight on my second day in Kansas City, never realizing glasses could pop in two. I held one lens in each hand, thinking No worries. I’ll get MTM to overnight me a spare pair.

Because I’m a champ.

The next morning, I popped contacts into bloodshot eyes and flogged books at the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation Convention. The day before, I sold almost thirty books. I schmoozed and small talked and listened and elevator pitched and bonded and begged and guilted everyone who came near me.

My glasses must’ve been my good luck charm.

The last day, browsers must’ve read panic behind my mask of confidence. Nothing I tried moved my sales beyond five books. Not buttering up William Clark’s several-greats grandson and his impressive mustache. Not offering buy-one, get-one-free. Not telling my sob story about the US Postal Service losing my spare pair of glasses, leaving me on my way to England with two contacts as my only eyes.

I was upstaged by another author,
but that’s another post for a different day.

As I taxied to the airport, I realized another sickening fact: I couldn’t see much with my right eye.

But I’m a champ, right?

With shaking hands, I tried every configuration of tape to coax my glasses together, but alas, even mummification-by-tape wouldn’t fix them. And sight continued to diminish in my right eye, another flare-up of the parasite that plagues me.

What do champs do when they break their glasses
and can’t see out of one eye?

They go to the bar, knock back two gin-and-tonics and board their scheduled flight to London, sure they will awaken on the other side of the pond to nothing more than an en route nightmare.

But when I landed, I had a hangover to match my blind right eye and still-broken glasses. My dear English hostess Kate Shrewsday met me. She called pharmacies, asked about doctors’ appointments  and even let me sleep late, while she found the perfect super glue for my glasses. I sat under the skylight in my attic haven, ready to cement my way to Ms. Fix-It glory.

Super glue spewed from the bottle
like pea soup crossed with The Exorcist.

In less than two seconds, it coated one lens and stuck my fingers to the frame. Champ-like, I vaulted to the bathroom, groped for scalding water and dislodged my digits whilst tearing away chunks of skin. At least, I think that’s what happened. I really couldn’t see much.

I groped my way downstairs and collapsed at the kitchen table. Bits of glue clung to bloody fingers, and my lens was caked with layers of dried cement. Another call to the optometrist revealed a week wait for new glasses.

Defeated. Pulverized. Drowned. Annihilated. Washed out. Hosed. I flew to England to record Not Without My Father for audio with a professional (Kate), but I was ready to cancel my trip and fly home.

Sometimes friends are the champs.

Kate brewed a cup of perfect tea. The perfect proportion of milk. And the perfect response: I’m calling my dad. He’ll know what to do.

The next morning, I came downstairs to functional glasses. My right eye recovered somewhat from its parasitic tantrum. I started working to master the vocal moves necessary to wow the audiobook aficionado.

My travels are seldom glamorous, Dear Reader. But on my last trip, I learned how to navigate life’s turbulence like a champ: Call Kate Shrewsday’s dad. He can work miracles with anything.

CLICK THE IMAGE TO SHARE.

grand stair at hampton court palace*****Photo: The Grand Staircase at Hampton Court Palace

I know. I know. This is the title of a drug addled Talking Heads song.

But she was.

My friend when I needed one. She was there even when I didn’t know what I needed.

Kristin and I don’t get together nearly enough. But last night, we made it happen. And on the eve of leaving home for a while, I’m so glad I could cocoon with her and just be.

Our friends can be biased cheerleaders.

That’s true.

But they can also cut through the crap and help us realize the magic of who we are. Of what we’ve made. Of who we could be if we only had the audacity to dream.

Kristin is one of those friends to me. I’m grateful for her.

Every single day.

Do you have friends who make you a better person? Tell us about them in a comment today.