Tag: Wedding

Wedding Blog Continued — How social media expands the mental frame

Last week I posted “The Marriage Blog: I put a ring on it,” and to date it’s my most successful blog post. I credit my beautiful wife for being such a great model. And today, I was going to write a post on my first trip to Las Vegas — which I’m still planning on for later this week — but my friend, fellow writer, and former colleague, Tania Cepero Lopez, helped me realize that I wasn’t finished with “The Marriage Blog.” I still had ideas I was leaving on the table, so I decided to push myself further.


Tania is a professor at Florida International University, and she teaches writing. If I dare, then I might also call her a rhetorician — a scholar. She is interested in the way we communicate, and she was particularly drawn to my post because of my questions posed on the way social media will help us remember. Check out her piece here: The Rhetorical Writer. In her post, Tania writes:

[Joe] identifies a problem: the way we remember is changing because our memory artifacts are changing. He’s concerned by this change and feels like it needs further attention, further exploration. Whether this change is good or bad is another story, a question he has not explored yet.

In a sense, Tania did me a huge favor; she analyzed my thoughts, broke down my writing, and, in a very admirable way, showed me where I stopped, where I could keep going, where my mind was wandering. If it wasn’t for her post, then I would have just moved on.



Oh yeah!!!

So now I must confront the question: Are these new ways of recording our lives — Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Google+, etc — good or bad? How are these social platforms changing the way we remember, and is it changing the way we, then, perceive our world? Woah, I just got wicked nerdy…lol.

Let me put it this way: On my wedding day, I knew I was going to have a gigantic challenge — staying in the moment. One of the hardest aspects of my life is staying in the present, not future tripping. On that day I knew I had to be aware of my world, be aware of the first time I kissed Heron as my wife, be able to smell the flowers as my cousin tossed them onto the floor, be able to feel how cold Heron’s skin was as we stood outside taking pictures in the freezing cold, be able to hear the guitar player strumming the melody of “Here Comes the Sun” as I walk back down the aisle. And I tried my hardest to capture those small details, those incredible small features of our world, and ingrain them into my memory so deeply that my vision of the past would be fuller.

That’s what I really want, and maybe what most of us want, is a full vision of who we were, once were, where we once were, in order to understand who we are now and in the future.

Now back to the original question: Are these social-media platforms good or bad? Well, the answer is obvious; it’s good. Tania points out that a result of being so connected is a faster exchange of ideas — in turn a growth in innovation. That’s an awesome point. Our blog posts are a microcosm of that effect.

So now I’m going to branch off from her idea a bit. All these social-media platforms are incredible for, yes, the freaking human being, because it expands our vision of the world; it expands the angles from which we can remember; it grows the perspective from which we can see.

Let me explain, dear reader. (Have I told you how much I love that you’re reading my blog?) Take a look at some of the pictures below. When I was dancing with Heron during our first dance, I was telling her, “Don’t look at anyone else. Look at me. No one else is here. This is our moment. Let’s be in the moment together.” Unfortunately, what I told Heron was a lie; we couldn’t be fully in the moment. No matter how hard we tried.

First Dance

Waiting to Come Inside


First Dance 2

And anyway our moment, staring at each other, was only a small part of the larger one — our family, the music, the sun setting over the marsh in the background, the position of the DJ, the crowd watching from behind. Because all our friends were there with their phones, recording the whole event, Heron and I now have a much fuller vision of our day. I can almost pop into different perspectives to see how the world, our world, looked for someone else. Then I blend it all together.

But wait, then what the hell happens to my memory? Does it become a collection of all of our memories? A collective memory? Social media as a collective memory?

Well, that’s a nice thought, but even with social media, we can’t capture all the stories — though it’s nice to think we can try. And at the most fundamental level, social media is giving us a fuller vision of our lives, a more advanced engine to remember our loved ones in ways previous generations never thought possible.

The Marriage Blog: I put a ring on it

La Bella Imagery: Megan LeeAnn Doyle

So I’m married…and I’m a writer. Some said it couldn’t be done. Others said it was a myth. But yes, I am a writer, slaving away at night and working a demanding job during the day…and I’m married.

When I was younger — let’s say around college — I wanted to transform my life into the image of what I imagined a writer to be. Think of Hemingway wandering through the streets of Paris, perusing the women like he later hunted Kudu in Kenya. Or Jack Kerouac, hopping on freight trains and shacking up with random women who lived in everything from adobe to train stations. A writer needed to know how to live. As for marriage, that wasn’t living.

Peto's Pic

Shortly after developing this idea of a writer, I remember I went through a huge philosophy phase; I read Nietzsche, Rousseau and Plato instead of going out and hanging with my friends. It was wonderful to open myself up to ideas, and I soaked up every line, branding their messages into my DNA…until one philosopher just rubbed me the wrong way.

His name was Schopenhauer. I wanted to read him, because Nietzsche kept alluding to him; so I figured, well, Nietzsche isn’t god, but he killed him: probably should listen. When I started to read, I was instantly turned off, because Schopenhauer kept telling me that if I wanted to find truth, understanding and knowledge, well, then I should just give up everything…especially love.

Love was a distraction. Love was evil. Love was an opium that deluded me from truth and understanding and life…really?

Sadly, for a time in my life, I believed that to be the case. That was before I understood what love actually was. That was before I understood that, for me, being a writer was forever attached to commitment and loyalty. That was before I saw my bride walk down the aisle for the first time — before I said my vows and made an eternal promise — before I walked away a changed man.

It’s funny how much I’ve changed on the idea of marriage, but it really comes down to finding the right person. I remember the day I realized I wanted to marry Heron. I was riding a bike with fellow FIU writer Nick Vagnoni, Pete B and David J. Gonzalez, the creator of Cabinet Beer Baseball Club, along the intercostal in North Miami Beach. Suddenly, it just hit me: I had found someone forever. Literally, I took my hands off the handler bar and screamed at the top of my lungs: “I’m going to marry her. I’m going to marry her.” Since that moment, I never looked back.

Planning the Wedding Isn’t Easy…But It’s Worth It

If you’re someone coming to my site, because you’re planning a wedding, then let me tell you this: the planning gets crazy a few weeks before the wedding. Maybe that seems obvious. But what’s really wild is the variable you can’t plan. For example, you might not have food like you planned; you might have under budgeted; you might not be able to find a band; you might find that your wedding venue has been overbooked. So just remember, in the end, it will all work out. It’s worth the effort.

But how will you capture the day of events? How will you remember them?

Of course, you’ll need a photographer for professional photos, but what I found to be one of the best experiences, so far, is that all of our friends and family started to share their personal photos on social media, especially Facebook. I loved seeing my friends’ shots, and it was instant access for me to relive the memories.

Social Media and the Wedding

At one point, I was looking at the photos that were posted on Facebook from our wedding, and I started to think about what was going to happen to all these photos. Should I save them or print them out and put them in a box somewhere forever? Should I save all the files in my iCloud? And how would these photos age? Could they be just like the portraits from my grandparents or would they stay on the internet always as timeless pendants of a long time ago? While digital photos won’t erode, they will still age, right?

It’s weird to think about how my grandchildren will look at my wedding. It’s going to be completely different from my parents and especially my grandparents. Just think about the way social media is influencing our lives and changing the we way record it. How will my grandchildren interact with this vine taken by my good friend Clayton Dean?

Remember, Stay in the Moment…Though It’s Impossible

Yes, social media is changing the way we reflect upon our memories, but that shouldn’t give us an excuse to not live in the moment…to be tweeting about a wedding while it was happening. And being present while your family is pulling you seven which ways and talking to uncles — though awesome — makes it impossible to remember to be in the there, in the zone, with your loved one. It’s essential to take those opportunities and allow those moments to surprise you and just take in the event…it might even happen after the wedding. Look for the small details.

Let me tell you about one of those moments I will never forget. Heron and I were flying back to Los Angeles, and we stopped in the Atlanta airport to hop on our connection to LAX. Heron and I had a couple of drinks, and we were laughing and smiling and being generally in love as we moved throughout that monstrous airport in Georgia. Well, I had been carrying a picture of my grandparents in my jacket pocket, and when Heron wasn’t looking at me, I would sneak glances at the photo.


Everything I know about love — I’m talking about commitment and ideology here — comes from my grandparents, Eleanor and Raymond Cain. They went through so much together in their 55 years of marriage. And they loved each other until the day they died. They couldn’t be there at our wedding, but they were there with me in everything I said and thought.

They were on my mind when Heron stepped into a store, and I took out the photo and started staring at them on their wedding day. They looked so happy and young and alive. That’s when I heard a voice.

“What’s that you looking at?” a voice asked.

I turned around, and it was a janitor who was cleaning one of the bathrooms.

“It’s my grandparents,” I said. “I was just married.”

And in that moment, talking with a janitor outside of a bathroom in the Atlanta airport, the moment really hit me. It was true. It was real. It will be a moment I’m always trying to recapture.