FaceBook: A story of addiction

FaceBook: A story of addiction

August 2009 was when I joined FaceBook – kicking and screaming. I was never on MySpace believing social media was just for the kids. Most of my staff back then was on it. Although they used it to promote our organization, I didn’t see how my presence was needed. I was invited by a former business colleague to LinkedIn in ’07 and saw the tremendous benefit in expanding my network there. Some social media, I figured, was purposeful and could be good for business.

March 2009, I started a new job as the head of fundraising and communications for a large social service agency in New York City. Our CEO tasked me with increasing our social media presence. I immediately delegated to staff. That month I also attended a class reunion. Since everyone had already connected on FaceBook, I felt like I came into the reunion in the middle of the conversation. I was beginning to think that maybe FaceBook had a purpose, and yet I resisted.

Finally, that summer things came to a head. My boss was pressuring me to know more about what the communications staff was doing on social media. To understand their strategy, I really needed to understand how this stuff worked. At that same time, the father of one of my closest friends died and I was one of the last to know because people now felt it was acceptable to make such announcements on social media and I missed it.

I succumbed and joined FaceBook (followed not too long after by Twitter and Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and eventually even SnapChat). I figured I would just use it to keep in touch with my elementary school friends. I would be friends only with real friends and keep my business persona on LinkedIn. FaceBook had other plans.  The lines between personal and business connections began to blur. I justified time on social media promoting my employers and eventually my own business. Even now I wonder how I could live without social media – FaceBook in particular – when I have a business page and business groups and it figures so prominently in my business development strategy.

Social media has also allowed me to stay more consistently and fully connected to my relatives in Ireland and the UK. It has grown my network of people with whom I can share my experiences, get advice and ask questions – as a runner, as a near-empty nesting mom, and as a citizen. Social media has connected me to causes that I care about which has translated to actual activism and new real-time friendships with like-minded individuals. FaceBook is where my friendship first blossomed with the wonderful man that is now my boyfriend.  Yes, there is no doubt that there are many positive attributes to social media. There’s the dark side too.

I have a problem. I often find myself scrolling mindlessly through post after post from friends, and people I don’t even know who are members of groups I don’t really need to belong to (Aussiedoodle owners group? Really?). I read articles from the New York Times and Washington Post, only to be sucked in to the comments sections, ultimately arguing with people I don’t know. Some of this, I’ve learned, is not my fault.

FaceBook (and other social media), like junk food, is created to be addicting. If you didn’t watch the TED Talk by Tristan Harris I shared in last week’s blog post, please invest the 20 minutes now. Between a desire to stop wasting precious time and anger in realizing how we’ve been manipulated and our data compromised, there is a need to break free. But How?

I don’t know exactly except to replace the bad habit with a good one. I’ve written about that before. And of course, we must be mindful of the quality of our time spent (watch this other Tristan Harris TED talk). Someone could make a lot of money in developing a 12-step program for social media addiction. Or perhaps creating more responsible social networks.

Harris concludes, “We have to demand this new kind of technology. And we can do that. And doing that would amount to shifting from a world that’s driven and run entirely in time spent, to a world that is driven by time well spent.”

While we are waiting for this new technology, we need to create that consciousness within ourselves. We need to be the change we want to see in the world. Who’s with me?

It’s a great time of year to explore away from the keyboard.                                                         Ramapo Reservation, Mahwah, New Jersey. April 2017.

This week in Marathon Training

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Spring Break

Spring Break

This is spring break week here, so I’m going to make this brief so I can get back to trying to spend some quality time with my kid. Since she started driving a year ago – and turns 18 later this week – I have to take what time I’m given.


Any break is always a great time for a reset, a time to develop new, positive habits.  I came across a few articles this week that may be helpful if you’re trying to do just that.

On creating good daily habits…

How to Get Life-Changing Clarity Within 90 Minutes of Waking Up

The first 90 minutes of your day are crucial to everything that happens thereafter.

If you don’t produce something special during those first 90 minutes, chances are, your whole day will falter.

Here’s how you maximize those first 90 minutes of your day. READ MORE…

by Benjamin P. Hardy, Thrive Global  

On creating a running habit…

8 Common Habits That Keep You From Running

You know that exercise is beneficial to your health, your brain, and your weight loss goals. Yet it seems so hard to fit into your day. If you don’t schedule a run, you probably won’t do it. Plus, there’s your endless to-do list, and then there’s the kids.

And even if you get a handle on those obstacles, there are still plenty more unexpected hurdles standing between you and some time on the treadmill or pavement. Below, a few habits that are messing with your goals—and how to work around them. READ MORE…

And a little more incentive to break the 2nd habit from the piece above…this maybe the best 20 minutes you’ll spend if it motivates you to break that habit…

How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day

A handful of people working at a handful of tech companies steer the thoughts of billions of people every day, says design thinker Tristan Harris. From Facebook notifications to Snapstreaks to YouTube autoplays, they’re all competing for one thing: your attention. Harris shares how these companies prey on our psychology for their own profit and calls for a design renaissance in which our tech instead encourages us to live out the timeline we want.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by (TED) editors on the home page. WATCH…

By Tristan Harris, Ted.com

I’m trying to develop some better work habits this week while continuing my marathon training. I have my longest long run of this training cycle – 22 miles! – coming up on Sunday and then being to cycle down to my taper. Roughly three weeks to go. I’m feeling good. Did well on last week’s 18-miler and in this week’s speed session of mile repeats, I hit my target pace. So far so good.


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Finding happiness at the end of a long winter

Finding happiness at the end of a long winter

This week signaled the start of two 5k beginner groups and my longest training run since the NJ Marathon almost 2 years ago. And while I turned my focus to those priorities, I felt like I was neglecting others. I have been beating myself up a bit for not maintaining my standards.

I’m really going to try to stop doing that. I’m going to really try to not worry about things I cannot do anything about. I want to focus on what I can do. Be grateful for what I have.

Truth be told, happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them. Imagine all the wondrous things your mind might embrace if it weren’t wrapped so tightly around your struggles. Always look at what you have, instead of what you have lost. Because it’s not what the world takes away from you that counts; it’s what you do with what you have left.  (Chernoff, M. “8 Things to Remember When Everything Is Going Wrong” Marc & Angel Hack Life READ MORE…

Sometimes we get busy and we forget to take the time to be grateful for what we have. I was having one of those weeks. I am just so sick of winter. I’m sick of navigating the snow on my runs. I’m sick of the cumbersome layers. We’re in daylight saving time now. Shouldn’t there be warmth to go with that later sunset?

I’m annoyed that last week’s storm cost me $550 for a tree service that wasn’t in the budget. I’m annoyed that my garden is frozen. I want to put the patio furniture out. I’m sick of picking up after my teenager. I am so ready for all of us to move on to the next chapter.

I believe happiness is a long-term thing, not short spurts of emotion that we chase, but something that is born within and sustained naturally in our being. (Martino, J. “10 Simple things you can do today that will make you happier, backed by science” Collective Evolution READ MORE…

I am, by nature, a happy person. My parents didn’t call me “Little Mary Sunshine” for nothing. But I am also impatient. When I decide I want change, I want it to be immediate. I want to fix everything and I tend to get frustrated when progress is slow.  I have to remind myself to just breath. From experience, I know that everything has a way of falling into place as it was intended.

That’s not to say that we don’t have to act. “God helps those that help themselves,” is something my mom would often say. While there is nothing wrong with praying, even through 17 years of Catholic School I was taught that even the best prayers need be backed up with personal action. Focus on what you have control over and do it!

If you aren’t happy try exercise, companionship, a walk in the woods, volunteering, smiling, or meditation, as the article quoted above suggests. Practice gratitude. And if all else fails, it’s perfectly acceptable to just take a nap and wait for dinner.

Saddle River County Park, Paramus, New Jersey. March 2018. www.HarriersRelay.com

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In running or life, a Coach can make the difference

In running or life, a Coach can make the difference

I’m going to ignore for the moment the snow outside and reflect on the fact that the official start to spring is just around the corner – 2 weeks! This is a good time to commit to something new! This week, twenty-two years ago, I started running.

Because it’s almost spring, I am again preparing to come out of hibernation in a big way. I start coaching my beginner 5k groups in the next week and the week after that my volunteer role coaching Let Me Run.  I will be telling everyone how I started like this – just one slow step at a time – how we all start like this. Read more

The Art of Running in the Rain

The Art of Running in the Rain

It don’t matter if it’s raining
Nothing can phase me
I make my own sunshine
And if you think you can break me
Baby you’re crazy
I make my own sunshine

“I make my own Sunshine” by Alyssa Bonagura, and recorded by Steven Tyler

I have a lot going on right now. My house just went on the market, so there’s lots of people coming through to look at it – and there is of course the constant battle to keep it neat and ready for the next realtor’s call. I’m also getting ready to launch two spring beginner 5k group training programs next week and there’s my own marathon training. Read more