Image for post
Image for post

How to Wean Your Pet Off Social Media

tough love ~ patience ~ peanut butter

This year’s bitterly cold unwelcome sucky winter really tested my skills as de facto indoor recreational director /slash /social-emotional wellness coach for our family.

I did my best keeping our tween-age daughters physically active with inexpensive innovative interiorarily-designed games meant for a small Midwest home.

Popular games you may have heard of.

  • Crawl Basement Bug Hunt
  • Pin the Tail on Liam Neeson
  • Laundry Luge
  • Spin. Spin. Drywall!
  • Human Battleship
  • High-Dive Mattress Challenge (team edition)
  • Hole Spackle Speed Test

As extensive and impressive as the playbook was, we ran through the entire thing in two-hours.

Come February with enthusiasm and vitamin D dwindling, I made a ditch effort to stimulate the kids’ creative circuits by converting our dining room into a makeshift yet tastefully appointed art studio but was harshly shut down after my wife uncovered my modeling clay recipe*.

Image for post
Image for post

(*may have contained raw ground beef)

Image for post
Image for post

Ingenuity exhausted, the kids resorted to board games, books and schoolwork to occupy themselves.

I’d failed them.

Except in one respect:

They avoided social media.

Granted, the only communication device I’d equipped them with was a cheap flip-phone meant for emergency purposes which made texting about as fun and sexy as making calls on a flip-phone.

But I believe there was another force at work which squelched any budding desire to confront their parents with “Mom, Dad — I demand to TikTok!”

As the girls learn more about social media, the more their interest ebbs.

There was a time when our kids may have argued, with reason, to have smartphones with free rein to social media.

But that was back when social media promoted itself as a fun nifty way to stay connected with family and friends.

Now, the whole concept, with no influence from me, is losing appeal.

Think about it: Unless you’re not already into S&M…

(sorry, that’s not right)

…unless you’re not already into social media, you’d really have to be the sort of person to rub hands together at the thought of

  • trolling
  • ghosting
  • FOMO
  • Momo challenging
  • blocking
  • clickbaiting
  • doxing
  • unfriending
  • flossing
  • hyper-flossing
  • hip dysplasia

Social media just doesn’t market itself very well nowadays.

To their credit and to my pride, my daughters elect low-tech face-to-face real-time speech as their socialization method.

My dog, Pepper, on the other hand doesn’t possess the same maturity.

She’s an insecure pup, always seeking positive reinforcement; always desperate for adulation.

This girl can’t survive without a 24/7 streaming service of affirmation and love.

If I drive with her in the car, she perceives my attention to the road as a significant problem in our relationship requiring counseling.

Image for post
Image for post
exhibit A

And evenings are downright brutal.

Her brain hasn’t embraced the concept of humans temporarily shutting down and collectively calling it a night. Even though as a family we’re pretty regular with the rising and the shining, Pepper holds firm to her belief that when the world goes dark, we retreat to our bedrooms to die.

(Do they make smelling salts for dogs?)

In what I‘ll call evidence of her separation anxiety, Pepper borrowed my smartphone last night and opened a Twitter account.

Image for post
Image for post

(I said this was an emotional intelligence thing, not an intelligence intelligence thing.)

The journal indicates she posted her first message shortly after we turned in and then continued tweeting through the night.

Image for post
Image for post

A lonely dog

Image for post
Image for post

just looking for love.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

I woke to find my battery-depleted smartphone and a sleeping Pepper snuggled on a corner of our couch.

I scrolled her tweets as she snored.

No likes.

Not even one.

Just one follower: B&G Discount Tire.

I patted her furry little melon. She half-opened an eye and wagged tail as she yet again acknowledged my resurrection.

I slowly scrubbed her happy spot.

“Oh you poor strung out pooch — you’ll never find love on the internet.”

She seemed to nod, then fell back asleep.

Image for post
Image for post

A hard lesson learned.

Image for post
Image for post

I’m still hiding my phone tonight.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

"Hi. My name is Roy." - Now that just sounds stupid. (thehappysidestep@gmail.com)

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store