Notification Nation

Let’s Be Frank: The Diary of a Divorced Gay Dad


For me, it all started with “You’ve got mail!” somewhere in the early '90s. It was my first encounter with electronic messaging and to this day I still proudly use my AOL email address. Since then, I’ve bought everything Apple has to offer, and every social media app available. I’m hooked – as in a crystal clear dictionary definition of addicted. I let my phone rule me and my life, and I fully submit to it with no questions asked. It’s a sign of the times, because chances are if you’re reading this article on your phone – you’re hooked too. We are a notification nation, hell bent on being up-to-the-second on every bit of news, whether from an actual media source or what our friends ate for breakfast.

Do any of you know a person that has 5 million messages in their inbox and you can’t stand to look at their phone because it gives you so much anxiety? Same. I know several, and I don’t know how they do it. I like my phone to be a clean slate – every email and message replied to as quickly as possible. I have zero chill when it comes to texting – ask anyone I text. I respond way too quickly and type way too much. I’m terrible at it. As a result, I decided a few years ago to take away any emotion when I text – so I got rid of all uppercase letters and punctuation. “hey whats up” is way better than “Hey, what’s up?!?!” I’m still learning. It’s an art form, really – the ability to convey a message with as few characters as possible. It is absolutely invaluable in today’s society.

So what does this mean for dating? Well, it’s a nightmare. There are several sides to the equation that never existed before. For instance – we are now so connected that we can have relationships with people we’ve never met in person, halfway across the country. This is great because we have way more “friends” than previous generations, but being able to connect with them in person is difficult. We can meet anyone we want online, but until teleportation exists, it can be very frustrating. Long distance relationships are on the rise as a result, but those require a certain kind of person and I am not one of them. I need old-fashioned skin-on-skin affection – not a cyber love affair.

On the flip, if you’re already in a relationship, social media can be your enemy. It is a whole new dimension of our personality to obsess over. It’s unhealthy. If you don’t “like” enough posts or even worse, “like” too many of the wrong posts, it can wreak havoc. Additionally, if you don’t post the right amount of couple pics or whatever, it can upset your significant other. It is like walking on a tightrope over a pool of alligators – a very delicate balance. The stress it adds is completely unnecessary, but we’ve brought it all on ourselves. Our social media is actually a relationship, full of its own ups and downs. When we enter a relationship with a person, it becomes a threesome, or foursome if they’re as connected as you.

With all this in mind, I’m presenting my handy guide to social media, and I’m just keeping it real. I’ve studied them for years and have adopted these viewpoints to help me navigate the craziness.

FRANK’S SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDE

Facebook – a 50/50 representation of your real life mixed with the life you want everyone to think you’re living. I call it Fakebook and use it differently than others because I secretly despise it – due to what it does to insecure people. Apparently being “Facebook popular” carries a certain amount of cachet in smaller gay communities, but it’s an artificial sense of security – i.e. Fakebook. Don’t even get me started on the “memories” feature – there’s nothing like seeing a happy picture of you and your ex from 5 years ago to ruin your day.

Twitter – balls out say whatever the f*ck you want. This is the Internet’s “safe space” believe it or not. It’s pure entertainment value, and the 140-character limit makes it easy to digest. People always tell me “I don’t know what to tweet,” which is ridiculous. Tweet ANYTHING YOU WANT. It’s a playground. Sign up now and play. Don’t take a word of it seriously.

Instagram – a weird hybrid of Facebook and Twitter but all visual. I actually think this is the future. It’s kind of a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” mentality. There’s no set formula for what works – everyone just wants to be Instagram popular. It can be a ripped hunky guy or a cute kitten – anything visually appealing wins, but comedic memes also rule. It’s a catch-all.

Snapchat – the devil of social media. It’s also my favorite. Snapchat is temporary, discreet, and highly invasive at the same time. No one knows how many friends you have but you, so you can be insanely Snapchat famous and only you know it, which is so weird and opposite of all the others. It’s also a great way to flirt. There’s nothing more adorable than getting a post-workout selfie snap from your significant other. The best part is that it only lasts 24 hours. You can have a wild weekend and then come back to reality on Monday and your Snapchat conscience is clear. Snapchat is Las Vegas. What happens there stays there.

Tumblr – it’s just for porn, right? Or am I missing something here?

Vine – this has really turned into tween-land. What started as Twitter’s side project became massive to the younger generation. Basically they like to watch super dorks do super stupid things for 8 seconds. That’s it. And nothing makes me cringe more than hearing the words “Vine famous,” but apparently that happens, and it’s a world I know nothing about nor want to.

You don’t have to agree with me, that’s not the point. This is my coping mechanism to be able to wrap my head around all of it. Sure, I could choose to go off the grid, but I’d much rather stay the course with a strong head on my shoulders. I’ll keep “hey whats up”ing and tweeting whatever comes to my mind and still be able to sleep at night, and wake up every day as a member of this notification nation.

You can see more of Frank Lowe at:

YouTube: www.youtube.com/gayathomedad

Twitter: @GayAtHomeDad

Instagram: gayathomedad

Facebook: www.facebook.com/gayathomedad

Snapchat: shhhhhhiknow

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