Kim Stolz — writer, reality show contestant, restaurateur and banker — was a social media addict. And finally, she is ready to share.
Stolz — the author of Unfriending My Ex, which came out this summer — could navigate to Facebook and search for an ex-girlfriend’s name without looking down at her hands (she would do it under the table during dinner). She’s a Foursquare stalker, constantly geolocating exes or potential mates. To describe the start of one relationship, she wrote: “A couple years ago, a Swedish girl named Clare approached me with a Facebook message.”
In other words, she is terrifying to parents (not to mention exes). The book is a perfect case study in how kids and social media can go very wrong.
“On CNN we had a really interesting conversation about how this book has been really popular with parents,” Stolz said. “It’s provided this microscope into their kids’ lives.”
The CNN anchor said: “This is something I think about and I think a lot of parents do, too. I mean, we’re raising a generation of kids that doesn’t know life without social media. Do you really think that it dulls our senses that much?”
“I do,” Stolz responded.
A “CBS This Morning” camera crew came out to her parents’ house in Long Island enclave Bridgehampton, where they talked about how she uses social media versus how her parents do.
Stolz, the director of equity sales at Citi, a former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant and a gay community leader (she owned The Dalloway, a high-end lesbian bar), has repositioned herself as a social media cautionary tale — gone to the most extreme and now back again with stories to tell. She took a week off from social media and talks about the real human connections she made then. She has a new count to ten policy (count to ten before you respond to an angry text).
She describes the beginning of an affair she had: She received a tweet from an ex-girlfriend, who then sent her a song on Spotify when they started to Gchat.
“I never wanted to blame social media,” she said. “But it’s an avenue from which we live out our most dangerous impulses.”
She thinks our love of social media has something to do with our attraction to breaking the rules.
“Humans are attracted to the illicit, to the mysterious,” she said. “When you can get a look into someone’s life when you really shouldn’t be looking at it, it’s attractive.”
So it’s bad?
“I do think so, yeah. I think social media makes it very difficult to be loyal in your relationships,” she said. “I think it’s a time suck. I think it can be detrimental to your emotional stability. But social media is a part of modern life.”
She keeps a notes section on her phone where she records her own emotional responses to seeing social media posts from various people.
“If I find seven out of ten times I see my ex’s posts it makes me feel negative, then I unfollow her,” she said.
But her distrust of social media ends at the ways we use it. She doesn’t delve into any critique of the companies themselves. Does she think it’s bad that Facebook conducted a mood experiment, testing to see whether users could be made sad by manipulating the type of content they saw?
“I don’t feel all that violated by my personal information being manipulated,” she said. “I don’t subscribe to all this hate the man stuff. I don’t think it affects us, really.”
But it might have. Facebook tried to alter people’s moods.
“But so do commercials. Take Hallmark off, then,” she said. “If we don’t want our emotions manipulated, then we should take Sarah McLachlan off that dog ad.”