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A 4th of July to Remember…UNPLUGGED (A few thoughts on social media.)

For as long as I can remember I've gotten up early to secure MY spot in front of the Canyon Theater Guild for our community 4th of July Parade. This spot has shade when the sun comes up and is a block away from the classic Rotary Pancake Breakfast. Even though we are less than 30 minutes from Los Angeles, the City of Santa Clarita, where I have lived for over 30 years, still has a small hometown feel.

This year, I knew I’d be missing the thrilling caravan of first responder vehicles, decorated trucks featuring all kinds of businesses, and local organizations doing their thing. Instead, I made a bold choice to sleep in and get some badly needed rest, as opposed to watching the parade, volunteering for/or running in our local 5K or 10K race before the parade.

My wife and I made a spur of the moment decision to take the train from our suburb community of Santa Clarita to Downtown Los Angeles. We would make a stop in Glendale to visit our son at the renowned Proof Bakery where he works.

Taking off on an adventure like this is not something I would want to do on a holiday, but lately, I'm changing many things about my life and am more open to adventure. I've dubbed my new way of thinking "Jeff 2.0." More on “2.0” in another ADD fueled rant.

About halfway to the train station, I realized I left my phone at home. Jeff 1.0 would have gone back to get the phone. If we did that, we would miss the train we wanted to take. But Jeff 2.0 was willing to take on the day without the comfort of my phone. No social media, pictures, music, podcast, or videos.

I was OK going unplugged because “Jeff 2.0” is a bit different, and I thought this would be healthy. Jeff 1.0 thought it would be hard. It wasn’t too hard, but a bit tough when the train was stopped for a Southern California earthquake.

To be clear, I'm a big fan of social media and embrace it in my personal and professional life. I love that I can stay connected and aware of what's going on with family and friends. Through things I've been reading and considering in my life, my positioning on social media posting has changed.

By not having my phone on July 4th, I knew that I would miss the posts from all my friends who were running our local race or doing whatever. That’s OK. I knew I could catch up later.

By not having my phone, I couldn’t share my every experience on this journey with you in real time. Since I'm approaching social media differently, I realize that this is a good thing. This was my day, and my experience, not yours, so I don't think you have missed anything.

For those interested, however, here’s a brief accounting of the journey and my thoughts on sharing life online:

The train was stopped after a 6.4 earthquake hit an area outside Los Angeles. An incident like this could result in a very long delay. That would have been frustrating since I had no media to keep me amused.

That might have pushed me to frustration, but “Jeff 2.0” was calm. Thankfully this delay was somewhat brief, and soon we were on our way to Glendale. It was a mile walk to see my son create beautiful flower art on a latte.


On the train, it was interesting to note that almost everyone was on their phones. Families weren’t talking, but they were keeping themselves entertained. Of course, we see this in restaurants and most everywhere these days.

A.D.D DIVERSION: (Going from a train ride to LA to Nashville, TN):

In downtown Nashville recently, we were in Kid’s Rock’s lively club where a band was playing. A group of four young women came in and sat at the table next to us. They promptly took a few selfies and spent some time on their phones before leaving, never watching or enjoying the great music this band was putting out. Seemingly achieving their goal of sharing their “experience” online, they were out of there in less than 15 minutes.


We walked back to the train station and continued to the iconic Union Station in Los Angeles.


Arriving in LA, we decided to take a walk to Little Tokyo for lunch. On the route we passed through "tent cities," which speaks to the serious problem of homelessness. It's eye-opening to see how real it all is.


We had a great lunch and discovered “Anime” characters were everywhere, which was a bit creepy. There was a convention in town. For those like me, not familiar with Anime, you can learn more here.


Continuing back to the train, we passed through another LA landmark Olvera Street. Here, about fifty costumed dancers and drummers performed a dance and "Incense to the Gods" ceremony. It was loud and pretty odd, but this was their cultural experience and part of my unplugged 4th of July to remember.


Our Metro Link train back to Santa Clarita was a simple straight shot, and we looked forward to a nice ride back. It was, however, an entertaining ride. Across from us was a passenger with some character and a large Bluetooth speaker. While I was expecting rap music, we got a steady stream of very classic type Patsy Cline type country music, complete with singing, then whistling. We appreciated getting off the train at our Santa Clarita stop.

After our day out, we enjoyed the evening home watching the "illegal fireworks" shows from our backyard hilltop perch. (This is SO wrong, but no one stops them, and we’ve come to embrace the show our neighbors put on.) It was loud, and we kept the dogs inside.

While I didn’t post anywhere from our journey, I did post this picture that night of Kona protected from the fireworks noise sitting inside. Pet images on social media are always a win! #PETTAILS

Not having a phone and enjoying the trip with my family was refreshing, although she had her phone and took some pictures. This being the case, I will take the liberty to post ONE photo. For the coffee lovers out there, here’s my son’s latte art…

Someone wrote that much of social media could be; "I'm here, and you are not." "I'm having this amazing meal... you're not." "I'm on this spectacular're not." That said, the beauty of social media is sharing life with others.

How much detail we want to share and consume is our choice. If we don’t want to waste time viewing self-centered meaningless posts, we don’t have to, and I have the option of not sharing every detail of my life, which is not all that interesting. I consider what is shared on our social media accounts, pondering if it actually may be of interest to our community.

It was good going unplugged July 4th, 2019 and will be a day I won't forget.

Keyboard drop.

© 2019 Jeff Solomon, MAS

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