I was walking our sweet, adorable goldendoodle, Monty, around the M Streets the other day when I looked down and saw on the sidewalk one of those sticky wallets that you put on the back of your phone. I looked through it to see if I could find an address to go along with the name on the contents, but alas, no such luck — only a DART pass, a health insurance card and a dollar bill. 

I asked passers-by if they had dropped their sticky wallet. I received a “no” from all with a few asking, “What’s a sticky wallet?”

When I arrived home, I went online and searched Facebook and the Dallas Central Appraisal District’s website to find a match. No hits. As a last-ditch effort, I logged into NextDoor, posted a lost-and-found message and targeted my neighborhood and the surrounding area. 

To my astonishment, I hit the jackpot. The following morning, I received a reply and a private message stating that the sticky wallet and its contents belonged to the sender’s father. She left a phone number, and we met in a public place. I verified that it was indeed her dad who lost his sticky wallet, and I went home feeling pretty good about myself. Good deed done for the week — check. 

Even better, I was finally feeling good about social media — something I haven’t felt in ages.

Like most people, I have a love/hate relationship with social media. But as of late, it’s been more of the latter. I waste time getting sucked into the vortex that is Facebook and Twitter. And I get so annoyed when I read messages on NextDoor warning me of suspicious people who have the audacity to walk on our sidewalks. 

This municipal election season was especially difficult from a social media perspective. Full-blown negativity and misinformation were on public display in a number of races, with supporters of some candidates masking their fear-mongering and salacious commentary as passion. I saw my name maligned a few times in public Facebook posts, and I wasn’t even running for anything. 

Having two “screenagers,” I am witnessing them on their devices. I could say that they’ve been on them constantly this summer, but the truth is, that’s not accurate, nor fair. My oldest is working three days a week, and my youngest sleeps until noon. But when there is any space in their lives, they reach for their phones to fill the void. 

What’s most maddening is that they’re on Insta, Snapchat or Musical.ly, yet there is a pile of clean clothes that needs to be folded, garbage that needs to be taken out, a lawn that needs to be weeded, a fence that needs to be painted and a garage that needs to be cleaned. Or even better — a mom who needs help unloading the groceries so she can make dinner for her family. (Insert Argh! emoji.)

What they see instead is my hypocrisy. While I’ve taken a mini-break from most social media, they know that I, too, love my device. My drug of choice is Words with Friends, and as much as I hate that I play Candy Crush, I can’t stop. Seriously, I am a middle-aged female stereotype. 

However, and in my defense, I’m not ignoring what needs to be done so that I can put down “lifeboat” on a triple-word score for 83 points. (Boom!)

Anyway, it had been a summer of frustration for me regarding all social media — until my walk with Monty and miraculously finding the owner of the lost sticky wallet via NextDoor. I needed perspective because in reality, it’s not all bad. 

In fact, it’s often good. Earlier this week, my daughter posted a Musical.ly she and I made. This was so outside my comfort zone, but it made us laugh and brought us a little bit closer. I’m guaranteed a chuckle by following @TheOnion on Twitter. And when I’m in need of a pick-me-up, I find the Women of Lakewood Facebook page to be an oasis from the nastiness and divisiveness of other group pages I, for some reason, choose to follow. 

At the end of the day, I realize that it’s up to us how we choose to engage. As time-sucking and frustrating as these social media platforms are, they can serve a greater purpose: maintaining connections, communicating information, providing entertainment and giving all of us an excuse to ignore for a little while what we can put off until later.

Mita Havlick is a neighborhood activist. Find her commentary regularly in the back pages of our print edition and online at lakewood.advocatemag.com.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.