Friday, August 29, 2014

Life After Social Media

In a world driven by technology and the internet, it seems almost impossible for a person to not be connected in some way or another to social media. Smartphones, tablets, iPads, laptops ... you name it, there is a way to connect and share with others through a virtual web that has become second nature to the human race. Social media can be fun, but social media can also consume your life if you let it.

I currently have 2 Instagram accounts, 2 Twitter accounts, 1 Pinterest account, 2 Google+ pages, 1 personal Facebook account, and 2 Facebook pages ... wow, that's just crazy! Although I use some social media accounts more than others, it is time to break some ties.

I am tired of looking down all the time. Looking down to see how many people "liked" something or how well a post did on Facebook. Are people reading my blog? How many hits did a story get? Did anyone retweet me? This past month I have taken a little hiatus of sorts from social media, spending less time looking down and more time looking up. Looking up at the world around me and seeing so many things for what seems like the first time in years. I have started living my life for me and not my "friends" on Facebook.

Do I hate social media? No.
Do I love social media? No.

There is definitely a place in this world for social media. I depend on social media to stay current on conservation topics that interest me and causes that I want to help create awareness for. Social media helps readers find this blog and helps teach others about making a difference no matter how old you are. However, at this time in my life, that place is not very high on my list of priorities. Social media is not my job and does not need to consume my life.

I started this blog six years ago with a post entitled, A New Chapter, as a creative outlet and as a way to let out-of-town friends and family know what Dylan was doing. After a few years of blogging, I got caught up in the "blogger" lifestyle and did some sponsored posts. This was very short-lived because the lifestyle just wasn't who I was, nor who I am now ... I can't sell myself out to a brand ... no matter how much swag they give me. In April 2012, I finally saw the big picture and things took a dramatic change. I learned who my friends were and were not.

As Dylan became older and his life more focused, it was apparent to me that his path had been chosen and was not changing anytime soon. His love of animals had become his passion in life and Life with Dylan became more focused on conservation and Dylan's philanthropy work. My love of photography combined with his desire to save endangered species and change the world has made this blog something we are both proud of. Ironically, that first post in 2008 was just a glimpse of what our future had to offer. Looking back, maybe it was foreshadowing of the many changes and growing pains we would encounter as a family.

Social media will always be a part of Life with Dylan, but my real life with Dylan shouldn't have to suffer because of it. If I wouldn't have a cup of coffee in real life with someone, why should I be "friends" with them on Facebook?
I much prefer real conversations to "likes" and comments.

Time to say goodbye to some virtual friends and reconnect with the real ones.

As always, Life with Dylan inspires me to see the world a little differently than I did before.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Photographing Apes: Spotlight Chimpanzees

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with a wonderful troop of chimpanzees. This particular troop was very animated and had me laughing at the similarities I could see from the human species. Like humans, chimpanzees are very curious and social animals - they are also highly intelligent. So intelligent, that they share 95-98% of our DNA, making chimpanzees one of the closet living relatives to humans.

Chimpanzees develop strong family bonds that can last a lifetime, especially between mother and child.

Watching the babies play and interact with each other was so much fun. The way they used sticks as tools and communicated with each other through hand gestures and body language was truly fascinating. It was like I was watching kids play at a park. The facial expressions completely melted my heart.

I believe the same characteristics that drew me to watching the chimpanzees play and interact for so long are the very traits that are causing these animals to disappear from their habitats. Chimpanzees are intelligent; therefore, it is easy to train them to do tricks and become performers or in some cases, a household pet. Chimpanzees are neither performers or pets - Chimpanzees are wild animals and should be treated as such. We need to be respectful of their natural habitats and support organizations like the Jane Goodall Institute to help save these highly intelligent primates.

Even though chimpanzees share close to 98% of our genetic makeup, humans are the main cause of harm to the species. As part of the great ape family, chimpanzees are endangered and live under continuous threat from habitat destruction and bushmeat hunters.

If that isn't enough to make you think about saving the chimpanzees, then maybe this statistic from the Jane Goodall Institute will at least make you want to learn more.

At the turn of the 20th Century, they numbered between 1 and 2 million . . . now there are estimated to be fewer than 300,000 chimpanzees remaining in the wild. Incredibly—over the past 100 years—we may have lost as many as 1.7 million of the chimpanzees that roamed the forests of Africa.