Alexa Mendes is hoping to become a real-life influencer.
The rising junior at San Dieguito High School Academy has written the book “#Unsubscribed” offering a rare teenage perspective on how she has chosen not to be active on social media and is thriving without it.
For teenagers the book includes tips for how to use social media as a tool, not an addiction, and still have a social life. For parents and teachers, there are insights on the hidden life that is going on in teenagers’ heads and in their extremely online lives from rates and tbhs to hashtags and follow requests.
“I hope to help as many people as possible,” Alexa said, noting that the book is really for anyone wanting to find their own personal balance of moderating social media use.
The helpful book might not have happened if not for an unfortunate and sudden injury. Alexa tore her ACL on May 30 while playing club basketball and decided to use the downtime to write a book. She had been scheduled to spend the summer at Stanford University’s high school summer session, studying neuroscience and fiction-writing.
Instead, a physical copy of her completed and self-published book was in hand by July.
Alexa’s social media use started when she was in the fifth grade, following funny accounts and tracking One Direction. She became hooked and was checking her Instagram and Snapchat accounts nearly every 30 seconds in case one of the accounts she was following had uploaded something new.
“I was constantly thinking about it and it kind of took away my life, wondering when and how to post, and who I should follow,” Alexa said. “I just began to notice that I felt more lonely after I used it and it wasn’t really working for me.”
She began weaning herself off of social media in seventh grade and by eighth grade she was completely off it. Her freshman year she began using it with self-imposed limitations. As a varsity SDA basketball player, Girl Scout and member of her school’s ASB she still needed to be somewhat connected, so she started only logging on just to check for school information and events.
“I don’t comment or post to not get caught up in it,” Alexa said.
The book goes into her own experiences and strategies and also includes chapters on politics, privacy and loneliness. She offers a practical guide for those trying to achieve a balance as well as an “unsubscribing starter pack.”
She reached out to other teenagers for their input on social media and each chapter begins with a quote from another voice, “to be more representative of my generation as a whole.”
The back cover of her book includes praise from local physicians, parents and a school district superintendent.
“As a family physician taking care of many patients with busy, over-scheduled and stressful lives, I can’t agree more with Alexa’s suggestions to use social media in a way that promotes improved mental health, increased productivity, healthy personal relationships and greater self-awareness,” said Dr. Gerard Lumkong of Scripps Encinitas.
“This book is a game changer if you wish to regain the appreciation of the natural world,” said Francisco Escobedo, superintendent of the Chula Vista Elementary School District. “A must-read, especially for the amazing teenagers and young adults that live in despair because of social media.”
Alexa’s book also received accolades and endorsements from San Dieguito Union High School District board members Mo Muir, Joyce Dalessandro and Beth Hergesheimer at the Aug. 22 meeting.
“We are very proud of her,” said President Hergesheimer.
While Alexa doesn’t want to give away all of the book’s secrets, her biggest tip is to just be in the moment, throughout the day take time to be silent, to look up and be present in your life.
“We may feel like victims to our devices but we don’t have to be,” Alexa writes in the book. “We can choose to be unstoppable.”
The book is available on Amazon www.amazon.com
Learn more about the book at https://unsubscribedbook.weebly.com/the-book.html