Stolz, Kim. “Unfriending My Ex (And Other Things I’ll Never Do)”, Simon and Schuster, Scribner, 2014.
Connecting and Disconnecting
All of us know about social media and I am fairly sure that all of us use it. What we do not realize is how it has changed what friendship is all about. Think about it. No more fibs or lies because the world is so well connected now. Social media has changed us so much—we do business through it, we meet people, fall in love, break up, develop friendships and so on. We make decisions on what to eat and where to go and we build our identities through social media.
Kim Stolz brings us a very funny and very honest memoir about the online life and how we are so obsessively connected that we are disconnected. Friends are no longer important—it is more important to have followers. I, for one, could not wait until the 5000th person signed up to receive my website. Our of those 5000 people I know maybe 100 of them personally.
Kim Soltz had been a contestant on “America’s Next Top Model” and it was there that some of her identity came into being. (I don’t mean that she did not have an identity before that—it is just social media and reality TV helped to seal it). Soltz can hardly put her phone down she tells us. I know that is, Every time I get on the Boston Consumer Rail all I see are people looking at their phones, their iPads and their computers and sometimes all three at once. No one is speaking except for the very loud girl in the front of the car telling her friend about the great sex she had with this guy she met at Fenway the night before. (Like we have to know this). Stolz remembers how it was before the technological revolution but it is hard to remember that we once actually spoke to each other.
From what I can tell, “Unfriending My Ex (And Other Things I’ll Never Do)” is the first book to looks at social media and documents the humor of it from the inside out. What we see here is a life that has gone through our obsessive relationships with technology. What I love is that the book entertains us as we learn from it and there are several “oy vey” moments with which we totally identify. Stolz looks at our deficits in empathy that have robbed us of our ability to pay attention for periods of time and yet, even knowing this, we do not dare leave home without our gadgets. I remember when we had to wait for someone to be at home before we could call them and that there were certain times of day that calling was verboten.
Life online is not life—as long as someone can hide behind a screen we never know what honesty is. My big question is why did it take so long for someone to sit down and write this book. The real technological revolution began in 2004 with the iPhone and here it is almost ten years later and this is the only book of its kind.
Anyone younger than 30 lives a life that is preoccupied with digital devices. They spend their time on Facebook and Twitter, constantly gaining new “followers” and becoming “enriched as writers and thinkers”. We have even had a government overthrown by social media so what can be the next horizon?
Stolz shares her digital addiction and how it enslaved her, fraying friendships, and attention spans, and making her and members of her generation less, not more, connected. “Unfriending My Ex” is a slap across the face as an attempt to wake us from our lethargy and to tell us that we need more balance in our lives.
I was so engrossed in reading this that I did not look at my phone more than twice in 15 minutes. We are now in the “me” generation and here we are reminded that it is possible to live without our phones. We also realize that it is okay to laugh at ourselves. Here is what other critics have to say about the book:
”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.’” (Chris Hardwick, host of Comedy Central’s “@midnight” and author of “The Nerdist Way”)
“From reality show contestant to MTVU VJ to MTV News correspondent to blogger and tireless tweeter, Kim has been at the nexus of all the tech and cultural, um, ‘advances’ that make the 21st century so unique. I’ve always known her to have a keen sense of what makes her generation tick – the good, the bad, and the sometimes kinda ugly. Our endlessly opinionated, notoriety-seeking, web connected world. It’s hard to remember when it wasn’t this way. How did we get here – and where are we headed? Kim Stolz tackles it all in Unfriending My Ex.” (Ruby Rose, TV Personality, MTV VJ)
“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.” (Roger Rosenblatt, author of Rules for Aging: A Wry and Witty Guide to Life)
”[A] lively memoir… [Stolz] 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. (Publishers Weekly)