Beth Brandon

I both love and hate social media. And since it’s not going anywhere, I’m going to have to come to terms with that. Facebook, Instagram and other apps that I am likely too old to know or care about are on our phones, computers and generally part of society. So not only can you enjoy the fall colors live and in person, but you can post a picture of them and share it with 1,000 of your closest friends. 

I can remember back in a mass communications course in college when we all discussed how reality television wouldn’t last, that it was just a phase TV was going through. How wrong we all were. I’m sure social media was thought to be a phase, too, at some point. I can only wish. While it annoys me, I still find myself yearning for other people’s pictures and headlines to pass the time, strange as that may be. I thank God often that I am not a high school or college student in the age of social media, but I digress.

I post my column on Facebook because I feel like I should. It’s how I share this with those both near and far. I feel guilty if I forget to share it and at times, a little “less than” if no one “likes” it. How messed up is that? Who cares? On the one hand, social media is this great resource to connect with friends past and present, and on the other, I find myself wasting time on it and ruining my posture in the process. 

Not to mention, I’m 100 percent sure Facebook is spying on all of us who innocently post colorful vacation pics. It has figured me for someone who loves chunky sweaters and watching videos of cakes being decorated and most animals, particularly dogs. Stop watching me!

Despite living in a small town, high-season tourism and work can keep you from seeing all of the friends and acquaintances you enjoy seeing in the flesh. So a point to Facebook for keeping me current. Then again, if you don’t participate in social media, did you do anything last weekend? You can see my frustration.

I need a break. I’ve taken short breaks, but I think it’s best to log out for 30 days, cold turkey. Just as I was making the decision to cut ties I saw a post from a friend. His post read that he felt like he’d been having a hard time shining his light lately. What? He literally shines his light on everyone he meets! 

While I love to hate Facebook, reading that made me feel compelled not just to participate, but offer perspective and encouragement. Here we are in sunny September in Aspen, not in the depths of a cold, lonely winter, and sometimes the spark just isn’t there. And sometimes you need to show up for a friend.

When I first moved to town, said friend was the edgy waiter dude with blue hair, a local for sure, and someone I didn’t have the privilege of knowing, yet. He’s what you would call a local’s local and someone who has something positive to share whenever your paths cross, a truly great character of Aspen.

I applaud him for putting himself out there and sharing his true feelings. I also applaud his friends. You can think I’m a voyeur all you want, but I am happy to know that we live in a place that’s open to real conversation.

I ran into him a day after he posted and sparked the love and encouragement fest that I’m certain he more than appreciated. I asked for a hug and got one. We all agreed that the energy felt a little off lately and that, of course, ending another season is always a sigh of relief. 

We spend a lot of time outside here and the goods are great. What we’re able to check off in a week’s time as our normal hikes, bikes, etc. can be seen as bucket-list items for most. The highs are high, but there’s absolutely no shame in having some down feelings too. Even if it is sunny September. Sharing those feelings with friends is even braver — and healthy mental flossing by the way. 

There are winds of change blowing through the air right now. The leaves are starting to turn as the summer oozes out of the flora. Our surroundings are changing and as humans that inhabit this beautiful natural space, we, too, are changing. We change every single day. So if you feel like you can’t hang today, don’t. If you want some solo time, take it. I’m taking a hiatus from the ‘Book and the ‘Gram and might just join my friend for breakfast and a newspaper at Jour de Fete instead.

I am glad I saw his post before taking a break. It reminded me of what social media might have been intended for, in its purest form. To connect. If I don’t connect, I’m not whole. So I’m going to work on some face-to-face time for now. Off-season shouldn’t be the only good time for that, but thankfully it makes in-person appearances a little easier.  

Beth is eating at Annette’s Bakery as often as she can this month and manifesting a new lease for Annette and Fino. She can be reached at bethabrandon@hotmail.com.