September 26, 2011

Eyes Wide Open: Being an Absentee Father

I recently described business travel as “glamorous.”

That was the best adjective I could think of after eating peanuts and drinking stale coffee on a 6 a.m. flight to New Orleans. (That was the most sarcasm-inducing “breakfast” I had ever eaten.)

I was in the Big Easy working on an out-of-the-box social media campaign for Tulane Athletics.

The only reason I’m sharing this boring behind-the-scenes information: I think it’s important that you know and understand why I abandoned my family for an entire week.

Why I abandoned my wife.

Why I abandoned my 19-month-old son.

Why I abandoned my dog.


I really thought I was a big boy. I thought I could handle it.


I was standing on the doormat to hell, screaming: “Excuse me! I have a reservation for one!”

I was miserable. I missed them like CRAZY, and each and every day I missed them that much more.

Thank goodness my understanding and VERY cool wife kept me sane. She sent me two to three photos a day of my “Little Man,” and every time it made me smile.

I thought I share some of my favorites:

My boy loves ANYTHING with a steering wheel.

He's a fan of pickles, too.

I told you about steering wheels, right?
(I'm entering this shot into PWT Hall of Fame)

When I'm gone for long periods of time,
Crash starts interviewing new daddies.

Tell my son: "Show me your eyes"
and this is what you get.

Crash: Don't drink and drive!

An instant classic!

When I take him on an airplane...he's a little more hyper than this.
(Flying with his mom to see his grandparents)

"Show me your eyes!"

September 23, 2011

Social Media Experiment: Socially Inept?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was written Oct. 10, 2010, as part of a social media experiment that I decided to document along the way. I had dreams of creating this “scientific journal” but it turned into eight pages of babble. This is the third installment of a 3-part series. Click here to see introductory post.

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One of my last Facebook posts was a picture of me and my son at a Rangers game (right). He was looking up at me and I was acting like I was scolding him. I wrote a clever caption:

“CRASH: Dad, I like how the Rangers match-up against Tampa Bay in the playoffs. ME: BOY! If you just jinxed them...I’m going to spank your tiny little butt.”

Funny, right?

All I could think about after uploading that picture were the potential responses.

“How many people are going to comment on this post?”

“Is anyone going to ‘like’ it?”

“Cute baby photos with funny captions ALWAYS generate some dialogue...and then you throw in the Rangers. WOW! This should be huge!”

“Please! Please! Please!”

Confession: I’m not that pathetic, but I DID login several times to see if anyone had left a comment. (Actually, that’s more embarrassing than my pseudo, over-dramatic thought process.)

But that’s why we post and/or Tweet, right? To get feedback, comments, reTweets?

Otherwise social media isn’t very “social.”

This desire for online interaction started to impact my psyche, though. The adjective “obsessed” carries a lot of negative connotations, but it’s definitely appropriate in this instance.

I HAD to receive feedback.

More confessions:
• I’ve actually gotten my feelings hurt when no one commented on certain status updates.

Explanation: You think you’ve formulated just the right status update – it’s funny, engaging, something everyone can relate to. It’s one of those posts that even makes you giggle. But after you hit “submit”... crickets.
• I check my Twitter account daily to see if any of my thoughtful Tweets were reTweeted.

Explanation: Similar feeble explanation from above...but this is also the case when I share a funny or interesting news story, an inspiring quote or upload a fun picture.
• I would get excited when one of my random followers (Twitter) or a long-lost friends (Facebook) came out of the wood work to share their thoughts.

Note: No pitiful explanation needed.

I just hate the fact that I needed that feedback.

Why couldn’t I just be happy to live peacefully in my quite narcissistic world?

Why couldn’t I be like everyone else and post about where I was or what I was eating? No one is going to respond about a turkey sandwich or the fact I was at Starbucks AGAIN.

This need for online interaction even started to impact my life. I would stress about making the “perfect post,” which means I was thinking about it ALL THE TIME.

I was planning my next update during life’s mundane activities – taking a shower, driving to work and/or mowing the lawn.

But major life events were not exempt.

Example: I was planning my status update even before my just-born son had the birthing goop washed off of him. And I already mentioned the first time my son ate real food – I snapped a photo after his first bite and then raced to the computer.

Yep...missed it all.

I guess I just HAD to have one of my “friends” write “Cute” or “Like father, like son” to get me to my next post.

September 14, 2011

Social Media Experiment: Tweetest Time to Post

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was written Oct. 6, 2010, as part of a social media experiment that I decided to document along the way. I had dreams of creating this “scientific journal” but it turned into eight pages of babble. Click here to see introductory post.

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While I’ve already admitted extensive use of social media on a daily basis – there are certain times when I become a status-updating fiend:

• During TCU Football Games

• During Texas Ranger Baseball Games

• When I am traveling


First pitch...status update.

Standing in security checkpoint at airport...Tweet, Tweet, status update, Tweet.

The only thing I can figure: I am obsessively passionate about the Frogs and Rangers and there is A LOT of down time at the airport.

We’’s only been two days, but I’ve already I received my first test in this social media experiment.

For the first time in 11 years, my beloved Texas Rangers played in a postseason game.

Reminder: First pitch...status update.


It was the biggest game since 1999 and I couldn’t Tweet about it.

I couldn’t gripe about blown calls, crappy managerial decisions or missed scoring opportunities.

I couldn’t “cheer” with other Ranger fans when something magical happened.

Every time one of these moments occurred during Game 1, I instinctively reached for my Blackberry.

But I stopped myself, quickly realizing that my “sickness” was even impacting the way I watched a baseball game.

To help me cope, I decided that “detox posting” was necessary. (Fake posts typed into Microsoft Word.) I found it very comforting to share what I would have posted/Tweeted.

Here are my quasi-updates:

“I’m not throwing a pitch or taking a swing, but I am beyond-myself nervous heading into this playoff game. GO RANGERS!”
“Had big plans to watch game at local bar – nothing like baseball & beer at 12:30 on weekday. BUT THEN, I got a call from my sick wife. Homeward Bound.”
“A LOT of nervous energy...forced to clean house between innings. My house will be spotless by the time this game is over.”
“Making mental note of people who e-mail or call me during the game. They’ll be officially put on a list of people who don’t really like me very much.”
“Rangers win! Nerves temporarily calmed. Unfortunately have to get back to work. – dang you, 12:30 playoff game!”
“Since I’m superstitious: I have to watch rest of playoffs on my couch, son has to have explosive diarrhea & wife must lay on bathroom floor, trying not to chunk.”

The “detox posting” definitely helped, but I think I’m going to draw a line in the sand and just stop for the rest of the playoffs.

Maybe I’ll pay more attention to the game.

Maybe I’ll just yell at my kid and/or dog if the Rangers do something stupid.

Maybe I’ll just appreciate it for what it is – baseball in October.

Maybe I’ll actually enjoy a victory.

By the time you’re reading this...the Rangers could be World Champions. (Of course, no one will know because I wasn’t able to Tweet about it.)*

*Editor’s Note: Damn those San Francisco Giants.

September 7, 2011

Social Media Experiment: Disengaging

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was written Oct. 5, 2010, as part of a social media experiment that I decided to document along the way. I had dreams of creating this “scientific journal” but it turned into eight pages of babble. Click here to see introductory post.

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I used the phrase “walking away from social media,” but it was not that easy.

With smart phone applications, e-mail alerts and bookmarks – it was like I had to severe an umbilical cord.

I decided that “disengaging” is a lot more appropriate way to describe it.

I had to delete, cancel and enable features that had embedded themselves into my life. As I was removing all of this functionality, I seriously considered deleting my accounts. I thought it might be easier.

But the thought of that made me feel like a crack addict, debating on whether or not I should throw my pipe off the nearest bridge.

I got cold sweats, suffered from the shakes and thought of EVERY excuse I could muster NOT to do it. All of this while I laid on the floor in the fetal position.

“This is only temporary!”

“Experiment. Experiment. Experiment.”

“They really ARE my friends!”

“I’m not addicted.”

“Why is everyone screaming at me?!?!?”

“I want my mommy!”

Needless to say, I left the accounts active – just removed any reminders or temptations. It was like I put my crack pipe in my sock drawer, praying that I would forget where I hid it.

Example: I use a desktop application to manage my Twitter accounts – Seesmic Desktop. It is designed to sort my Tweets by followers, subjects, etc. It used to automatically launch when I logged into my computer. There were these little chirpy beeps that made me stop shaking.

It was my fix.

Now, Seesmic Desktop has a temporary home in my computer’s trash can and there is silence when I open my laptop.

It’s taunting silence.

Purging all these applications confirmed one thing: The warning signals of addiction were definitely real.

This was apparent again this morning.

I could have sworn that my 8-month-old son rocked a definite “DaDa” when I picked him up out of his crib.

Instead of jumping up and down and bragging to my wife, I looked frantically for my laptop.

“I have to update my status!”

“I have to Tweet about this!”

I snapped back to reality when my boy continued his morning declaration. “Blah da ma me blub a ma poo,” he said smiling and trying to put his foot in his mouth.

It was like he was saying, “Hey, Dad! I thought you weren’t going to Tweet anymore!”

I stopped cold and abandoned my quest for my laptop and/or my Blackberry and/or my wife’s computer and/or any other electronic device I could find to type 140 characters.

I started to ask myself, “But how will anyone know” – but I quickly returned to the moment. I ran into our bedroom and started talking trash to my wife. (Reminder: He said “DaDa” not “MaMa.”)

This incident did give me an idea, though. To help with my “social media detox,” I would jot down what I would have posted and/or Tweeted for that day, and include them in this journal.

Is that cheating?

September 4, 2011

‘And like that...he is gone’

Almost a year ago, I officially dropped off the social media grid.

I walked away from Facebook and Twitter and went silent.

This was my final post:
“After that, my guess is that you will never hear from him again. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.” (From Usual Suspects)
For the next three months, I did not update my status, share a link or “Like” anything. I didn’t accept anyone’s friend request, upload any photos, or write on anyone’s Wall.

There was no tagging, ReTweeting, or sharing.

I didn’t even creep around, looking at pictures of high school friends just to see how fat and/or bald they are.

For 90 days, I was completely rogue.

This idea came to me after working through a lot of head trash and excuses. It wasn’t an easy decision.

When I was still on the fence about the three-month experiment, I did a little math. (For a communication major this was unprecedented.) I figured I spent 2 hours a day “using” Facebook and/or Twitter.

After an informal survey, this proved to be pretty standard. (Excessive, yes...but not out-of-the-ordinary weird.)

One person commented on my Facebook inquiry: “30 minutes in the morning....5 to 10 minutes five times a day....30 minutes in the evening.”

Quick math: That equals 1 hour and 50 minutes a day.

(To keep the next wave of math easy, I decided to round up my social media consumption to nice and easy 2 hours a day.)

Let me know how this punch to the face feels....2 hours of social media a day equals:

• 14 hours a week

• 60 hours a month

• 730 hours a year



If you’re an hour-a-day user, you spend 15 days a year “using” social media.

If you’re disciplined and only spend 30 minutes a day “socializing,” that comes to 7 days a year.

Those numbers were mind-blowing to me, but that was NOT what prompted me to walk away.

Probably the three biggest factors were:

– I started to see warning signals of addiction;

– I realized I was missing out on a lot of things (Example: I was in such a hurry to post/share pictures of my son eating for the first time (right), I missed him...ummm...eating.)

– I started to see all the potential adventures that I was ignoring, because I was racing for my laptop to see what my “friends” ate for lunch.

One of those adventures that took a backseat to Facebook and Twitter was my writing, something I LOVE to do.

Sure, I was posting 140 characters of babble throughout the day, but it wasn’t feeding my journalistic monster. (I could have written one hell of a book in 730 hours!)

So I decided to document the experience along the way. I had dreams of creating this “scientific journal” but it turned into eight pages of babble – from the disengagement process to trying to figure out if I’m socially inept.

I thought it was time to share that babble. For the next couple/few days, I’m going to post my “journal” entries on this blog.

Update on my social media usage: Like one of my former players told me once, I'm on Facebook "more than a freshman girl at TCU."

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