Kim Stolz, formerly of “America’s Next Top Model,” talks digital detox and tech-fueled relationships.
Kim Stolz can name many examples of social media gone too far.
Among them: Friends who wouldn’t go to dinner with her unless she promised to put down her phone. Mood swings provoked by Instagram photos of parties to which she wasn’t invited. Even a breakup sparked by her then-girlfriend’s discovery that Stolz was flirting with an ex online.
Now Stolz, known for her stint as a contestant on “America’s Next Top Model,” has written a book about her social media obsession. “Unfriending My Ex and Other Things I’ll Never Do” (Scribner, $24) is a collection of stories — gleaned from her friends’ experiences and frequently referencing her exes — about how being too connected can be harmful to relationships. (She’s now happily married and works in finance.)
She talked recently about reality TV, her weeklong digital detox and her biggest social media pet peeve.
Q: In the book you say social media is a lot like reality TV. How so?
A: We’re all in this worldwide, interconnected reality television game show. We’re all contestants competing to see who has the best friends and the best vacation and the best boyfriend and the best girlfriend and the best house and the best puppies or whatever. We’re valuing ourselves at this point in a large way because of “likes” and comments and followers and “friends.” Reality television has also played a part in that. You become famous for who you are and some silly things that you do in a house with some people. Everyone has this kind of idea that they’re just one tweet away from becoming famous.
Q: Do you have a digital pet peeve?
A: Yes, the selfie. I think it stands for the growing narcissism in our society. It’s incredibly self-absorbed. If you post a terrible selfie and you get a lot of likes, that’s false hope. If you post a great selfie and you get a lot of likes, you’re kind of bragging.
Q: But you were on a reality show for models. Do you ever take selfies?
A: Once in a while I’ll post a picture of me and someone else. I don’t have a problem with someone climbing a mountain or playing sports — and someone else took a photo of them. It isn’t really a selfie. A selfie, to me, is when your face is taking up more than 50 percent of the screen and it’s obvious that you’re snapping it yourself. My friend took a picture of me the other day and I thought it was funny, so I posted it. But I wasn’t the main event in that photo.
Q: What do you suggest for people who want to try a digital detox?
A: Don’t put [your phone] in a drawer and tell yourself you’re not going to look at it. Give your phone to someone else and have them hide it from you. The first couple of days were what felt like a true withdrawal. I was antsy and anxious and I was seeing my phone in places that it wasn’t. Then on Days 3 and 4, I started seeing the world around me … and having genuine conversations with people.
Q: You jumped back into social media after your break, and admit you still struggle to put your phone down. What does a day with balanced technology use look like?