Unplugging Up In Smoke

I noticed it a couple months ago. My eyes lingered a little too long on you. I judged. And then they moved on to you, and you, and you. You people were everywhere. To me you were weak, not in the know, and a pack follower. Yes, they are sheep of the finest wool that happened to look like my coworkers, best friend, sister, and husband. You were strangers but all equalized by this addiction I suddenly saw as repugnant. And then I caught myself. How dare I look down on these people from my high horse? I too had this disease.  

I've been a smoker on and off for half my life. I used to smoke wherever the mood struck. I quit repeatedly. Sometimes I would quit for a few years, other times proved less successful and I was smoking with friends by Friday night. I was what might be classified as a "moderate" smoker. Usually a pack would last me a week unless a festive night called for endless drinks and therefore endless cigarettes. I would say things to myself like "Honestly, how badly could a few cigarettes a day hurt me?" And on I went.  But something changed along the way those last few years. I became shameful. Thanks to government funded marketing campaigns and Mayor Bloomberg I was being drilled with the idea (along with everyone else) that smoking was a vile habit. And what felt like almost overnight, I became a leper.  Hiding in the alleys outside of restaurants, tucking my arm by my side so passerby's didn't see, I was ashamed. And finally, I quit. I kind of quit. OK, I "moderately" quit (sans the special occasion cigarette). I mean, what could one cigarette a few times a year really hurt? 

I remember the ex smokers who used to judge and act in revolt of me and my habit. I never wanted to be one of those people. Ever. A high horse is no place for me. Which is how I come to write this post today.


I am addicted to my technology. To be transparent I will give you the list and just get it all out of the way: My iPhone and all its glorious apps, the beauty - my shiny macbook air, my 3 email accounts, my text messages, IM's, FaceTime, Google Calendar invites and hangouts, ALL social media (which I convinced myself was for work purposes) including the epitome of time sucks Facebook and Instagram, my wifi, my hot spots, my bluetooth and clouds, and all god forsaken notifications that popped up every second which I swallowed like a good patient as if they were keeping me alive.  

Yes, I blamed my work. It was ALL because of my work I told myself and my husband and my mom. I told that to the countless friends I was dining with or to the speaker in a presentation as I mindlessly distracted myself from boredom to troll Twitter. I am/was a brand strategist that focused on these new mediums in our digital universe to find ways to communicate with people in real time, in the way they were accustomed. Pretty much it was my job to come up with stuff that people would like, share, or retweet. Simply put, I spoon fed more mindless junk into your daily lives which helped feed your addiction of being tethered to your technology. Yes, I helped your addiction. How? I'll go into that at length another time but it's true, our brains are being rewired.

But it wasn't my work. I was hooked. I was rude and thoughtless, mindless, alone, and addicted. And I made the appropriate excuses, as addicts due.

Thankfully, with much self discovery, and a little help from a few friends plus LOTS of reading, I was able to admit it out loud and then begin taking the necessary steps needed to start my recovery process. And I've just scraped the surface. It's an hourly struggle. Admittedly, as I've been writing this I just read a Buzzfeed listicle and shared a post on FB. Womp.

I recall a friend who was just starting out in sobriety. They pointed wagging fingers in the wrong direction. It was easier to stare down their nose at others habits rather than reflect on their own work needed. And here I was caught red handed finger wagging, doing the same damn thing.

I was like the main character in the classic horror movie Carrie. A creepy squeak filled my head as my eyes robotically moved from person to person and stranger to stranger. I saw you hiding your iPhone under the table, I heard the distance in your voice as we were on the phone, I felt the vibration in our bed, I saw you snag your phone to take to the toilet, I barked at you when you bumped into me head down on the street. I hated them all. And then I realized I was hating myself for allowing this to happen to me. And deeper yet, to happen to our culture and society. I hated what we've become. I felt and still feel ashamed. And that is where the start of a change happened for me once again. 

I come from an ironic place that lends well towards understanding this virtual world. This is me hopping off my stead. I would like to lead people down the long and winding road I took to get here, this "kind of" quitting. It's not perfect and there are and will be many bumps. I am not perfect, far from it and I by no means know everything. We will have many friends and professionals collaborating with us on this project to bring you the best information and guidance possible. I am also not a Luddite. Technology is needed and provides many, many good uses which I do not need to wax on about, just google it ;) But like all good things, and bad, it needs moderation and education for the consumers (and maybe a little shame). And I hope to provide you the necessary education, tools, tips, and tricks to start your recovery to begin "living in real life" again.  I hope you join our community and movement.  I have two free hands ready to wrap my non judgmental arms around you. 

Xx, Jess

Founder of the Folk Rebellion | Raising Hell & Living Well

PS- Before you start in on if this is hypocritical or not, there will be a full blog post about why we are here. But to hold you over... let me ask you this; if you decided you wanted to help crack addicts recover, where would you go to find them? 'Nough said.