Is Now The Time To Unplug?


Long before I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix, I had concerns about the addictiveness of social media. I’ve witnessed young people (my kids and their friends, in particular) staring constantly and incessantly at their phones. “Hey kids,” I would shout. “You don’t have to look at other people’s pics on Instagram, you can see it live…right now…in front of you,” I would say pointing wildly at a waterfall in Dominica or the lights of the Las Vegas Strip or a sunset in Key West. Young people today would rather overshare their most mundane moments on Snapchat, than just look up to see the wonderful thing called life in front of them.


At first, I didn’t worry too much about it because, I too, have been guilty of spending way too much time on Facebook. Before that, I can honestly admit that I was addicted to Twitter for a decade. From 2008 to 2018, I posted more than 22,000 tweets. For 10 years of my life, I found it necessary to post an average of six times per day. I’m sure my 25,000 Twitter followers found this either amusing or bemusing.


Since that time, I’ve posted an average of 20 times per year on the microblog. I essentially quit Twitter, but it wasn’t cold turkey. My social media habits have been more recently consumed by Facebook and LinkedIn. My iPhone had about 50 social media apps — most I never used — FourSquareTumblrPinterest, and others, so I deleted them. I still have Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok, but I use them sparingly.


Since the beginning of the pandemic, technology has brought many people closer together and that’s a good thing. But it’s also exposed deep divisions in our culture and ripped up relationships, so I have been moving further and further away from social media. I have had friends quit all social media. Others just unplugged from social media apps. I have managed to unplug from most of my iPhone apps. Between email pings and notification dings and reminders about unimportant things, I realized I was turning into one of Pavlov’s dogs every time my phone made a noise. When I turn the ringer off, I feel like I’m being tased.


In the past month, I have cut off notifications for more than 20 apps and my Apple screen time informs me that in May, my daily average was 4 hours and 33 minutes. Today I am down to 1 hour and 12 minutes. In my line of work, I guess I can’t quit social media cold turkey, but I am on the road to recovery.


Monday, November 30 — CORE Near The Shore


TuesdayTuesdayThis Monday, three rockstar Madison+Main-iacs hit the road for our CORE meeting with the City of Chesapeake. What’s CORE? An interactive meeting with key decision-makers to get to, you guessed it, the core of the organization’s brand. Our Director of Business & Marketing Leanne Ferry, Creative Director Art Webb, and Communications Director Kent Brockwell headed to the land of deepwater canals and home of DeAngelo Hall for the first, fun, and fulfilling meeting to kick start our new friendship. I was disappointed not a single one of them brought me a crab cake.


Tuesday, December 1 — He Interviews! He Scores!


On Tuesday morning, I had the pleasure of speaking with John Reid, host of Richmond’s Morning News on 1140 WRVA. John saw my open letter on Facebook to Texas Inn customers and invited me on his program to explain the frustrations restaurant owners are having trying to comply with the Governor’s Executive Orders. This capped a 48-hour media frenzy, where my two little restaurants in Lynchburg were featured on WDBJ7WSET13WFXR Fox 27, and WLNI Radio. My “Open Letter To Our Customers” post has more than 80,000 views so far, 1,300+ likes, and more than 1,200 shares. I was completely overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of support from our customers — and if you’re a longtime reader of the Weekly Report, humble is something I don’t do.


Marc Zumoff, the legendary voice of the Philadelphia 76ers, is updating his college textbook called Total Sportscasting, and he called me on Tuesday afternoon for an interview. Apparently, I am the only social media guru he could find on Google. Marc’s new textbook will be out soon with new content and audio soundbites from incredible people like me. So does this officially make me a social media influencer? And how do I get paid for that? And if I quit social media, can I still be a social media influencer? Hmmmm…#questionsquestionsquestions




Wednesday, December 2 — ‘Tis The Season


On Wednesday, we helped our friends at Compass Entertainment Complex design some materials for their upcoming Christmas Lights event. A perfect way to HO HO HO their way into December, they have organized a tee-rific holiday event for the whole family — transforming their Mini Golf course into a winter wonderland. Plus, all the proceeds will support various local charities. So if you’re in the Northern Neck this month, don’t forget to swing by before New Year’s Day. #noifsandsorputts


Speaking of donating, our friends at Chewning+Wilmer, in partnership with Lambs Basket, are accepting donations at their Richmond office to provide food for families around Henrico County. Last year, the region’s leading electrical contractor donated $10,700 and made a real difference for food-insecure families in Virginia. Got cash for canned goods? You can donate before December 16 — just some ‘food for thought’ this season.


Thursday, December 3 — Powerful Points

On Thursday morning, I was able to join some of my favorite people on earth, the members of the Insider’s Club at the venerable Commonwealth Club. I was fortunate enough to give my annual presentation on how wonderful Madison+Main is, but unfortunately, the group only meets for an hour and I had prepared a five-hour Powerpoint. I did get to hand out some M+M branded booze at breakfast…

Virginia Business just named their 100 People to Meet in 2021 and boy do I feel special. Nope, I didn’t make the list, but I have several friends who made the cut, including M+M’s very own President and COO Molly WhitfieldVirginia Department of Health Commissioner DrNorman Oliver and Executive Advisor Jeff Stover, Alliance Group COO Andy Poarch, and A. Smith Bowman Distillery Master Distiller Brian Prewitt. Now I just have to go out and meet the other 94.

Friday, December 4 — Headed South 

Special thanks to Jr. Communications Specialist KennedyJFK’ Heidel for writing the Weekly Report last week. I thought she did a GREAT job. I took Turkey Day week off and headed south to visit family in Charleston, SC. I loaded up the Tug Life and forced my kids to join me on a whirlwind cruise down the Intracoastal Waterway from Urbanna to the port of Charleston. It took four 10-hour days as we navigated 527 nautical miles of the ICW. Why would we do such a thing? To surprise Nana, a.k.a. my mom Helena Saunders. Today I am driving back down to spend a few more days on the boat. Hey, if you gotta work from home, why not work from a home on the water?

BTW, please send me a recommendation for your fave Charleston restaurant…otherwise I’ll be forced to dig into my Costco-size case of Cup O’ Noodles.


A Few of Our Favorite Events


Virginia Energy Sense at Town Point Holiday Marketplace

120 W Main St. | Norfolk, VA 23510

December 5 | 2 – 8 p.m.

Join Virginia Energy Sense at the one-day Holiday Market, Celebration and Movie Night in Town Point Park on the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront. The Holiday Market will have a FREE live screening of the movie Elf, in a safe, socially-distant, family-friendly environment and visits with Santa. Visit Virginia Energy Sense at their booth for helpful holiday energy-saving tips!


Festival of Lights at Hermitage Roanoke

1009 Old Country Club Rd NW | Roanoke, VA 24017

December 5 – January 1 | 6 – 9 p.m.

Hermitage Roanoke is inviting everyone to warm up the car, gather the family, and explore thousands of twinkling lights and holiday magic at their inaugural drive-thru Festival of Lights! The upscale senior living community is inviting all Roanoke residents (and visitors) to join them in a new COVID-friendly holiday tradition. This ongoing nightly event is free to the public to attend.


Illumination on the Lawn at Hermitage Richmond

1600 Westwood Ave. | Richmond, VA 23227

December 5 – January 6 | 6 – 9 p.m.

Hermitage Richmond is inviting everyone to enjoy a little physically distanced fun and holiday magic this season. From December 5 until January 6, the grounds at Hermitage Richmond will be transformed into a spectacular winter wonderland display of holiday lights and reindeer. Include your family pets in the festivities! The ongoing event is free to attend and guests are asked to wear masks and practice physical distancing.


Christmas Lights at Compass Mini Golf

100 Entertainment Dr. | Irvington, VA 22480

November 26 – January 1 | 5 p.m. – Close

Gather the entire family and jingle all the way to Compass Entertainment Complex this season! They’ve transformed their Mini Golf course into a winter wonderland — and all proceeds will support various local charities. Questions about this event? Call them at 804-884-4FUN!


CowanGates Memorial Blood Drive

13620 W Salisbury Rd. | Midlothian, VA 23113

February 16 | 2 – 6 p.m.


CowanGates, in partnership with Village Bank, is sponsoring a blood drive at Salisbury Country Club. Bring your mask and donate — giving blood will help save a life. Sign up today!

Got an upcoming event you want to share? Can we come? Send us the deets!


“There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.”
— Edward Tufte, The Social Dilemma (2020)