Why Offline Relationships are Better Than Online

Could your social media habit be ruining your social life—and maybe even damaging your mental health? 

In theory, social media is a great way to stay connected with other people. After all, how else would you have reconnected with that girl you used to hate in preschool, or the guy you waved at one time in high school?

We jest, of course, but many of us rely heavily on social media to cultivate, reignite, or maintain social relationships. 

However, we may be doing ourselves a disservice. A significant study from the Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health at the University of Pittsburgh found a remarkable association between social media use and feelings of social isolation. 

The study focused on young adults (up to age 32), but the results are eye-opening for those of us in any age group. You might think that the heaviest users of social media felt the most connected, but the study found the opposite to be true.

Those who spent more than two hours per day on social media were twice as likely to experience feelings of social isolation than those who spent 30 minutes or less per day on social media. 

Does that mean that cutting down on your social media consumption will improve your feelings of connectedness? Not necessarily. And the study didn’t attempt to prove causation.

But one thing is for sure: research has demonstrated time and time again that face-to-face social connectedness is strongly associated with an individual’s wellbeing.

So whether or not you plan to start cutting down on your social media use, you might want to consider investing time in offline relationships. Your social life and your mental health will thank you. Now go schedule a coffee or dinner with someone.  

A Bit of History at The Commodore

If you’ve spent any time around a toddler—or teenager—you likely know that the best way to get them to do something is to insist upon the exact opposite. 

That’s the exact philosophy adopted by a significant portion of the population during the Prohibition era, which extended from 1920 to 1933. Rather than eliminate alcohol from the culture, as the legislation intended, it drove the practice underground. Literally, in many cases. 

One such case: The Commodore Bar & Hotel. This St. Paul landmark originally opened in 1920, the same year Prohibition went into effect. According to reasonably verifiable local legend, a speakeasy operated in the basement of the hotel.

This space was reportedly frequented by a who’s who of St. Paul society, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda (who lived in the hotel upstairs). It also attracted some notorious out-of-towners, including members of murderous matriarch Ma Barker’s gang, and possibly even Al Capone himself. 

We certainly don’t condone illegal activity, but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t enjoy hearing tales of the Commodore’s nefarious roots. If these walls could talk—well, they’d probably keep their mouths shut due to 90-year-old threats of gangster retribution. 

Once Prohibition ended, the Commodore opened an above-ground (and legal, this time) bar with stunning Art Deco detail. It thrived as a hotspot that exemplified the joie de vivre of the jazz era. 

Today, the bar and accompanying restaurant have been painstakingly restored. The bar features original design elements and the whole space evokes throwback glitz and glamour. Join us for a crafted cocktail so good it should probably still be illegal.

The Timelessness of WA Frost

When you’ve successfully operated the same thriving restaurant for more than forty years, you have the unique opportunity to witness myriad wine and food trends come and go. 

We’ve also watched a lot of restaurant trends come and go. 

At W.A. Frost, it’s not in our wheelhouse to aim for trendiness. Instead, we opt for timeless. We’ve found a recipe (pun intended) that works: excellent food and service in an unbeatable setting with built-in ambiance and character. Consistent, durable popularity seems to be a byproduct of nailing these fundamentals. 

Of course, evolution is par for the course over four decades. We’re classic but not stodgy. We’re constantly searching for the best wines, the best ingredients, the best recipes, and the friendliest faces to serve them all. 

It’s refreshing to not have to compete with every flash-in-the-pan trend that comes along. No, we will not be serving you deconstructed Twinkies on a garden trowel. If that’s what you seek, you’ll be able to find it somewhere. (This week, that is. Until something else becomes hip next week.) 

This immunity to bandwagons permits us to follow other sources of inspiration, such as which ingredients are the freshest in any given season, or which vintages of a certain wine are tasting exceptionally at the moment. 

While we may not court novelty in the sense of trend bandwagons, our longevity is, in itself, novel. Statistics vary depending on the research, but it is said that up to 90% of restaurants fold within the first year, and of those that make it past that initial test, five years is an expected average run. 

What does it say about us when we have people meeting on dates whose parents also met here for dates? 

We have loyal patrons who have been dining with us since the beginning, and every experience is just different enough to be memorable—while still delivering on the same basic promises of quality and service that make us a trusted go-to for celebrations big and small. 

Feel free to try the trowel Twinkies. We’re not offended. We’ll still be here. 


Rethinking the Importance of Your Social Network

That lunch date might just save your life. 

Technology allows us to stay more connected than ever before, without ever having to leave our homes. We can conduct meetings with people around the world, dialing into the same conference room. We can Snapchat someone in Paris while texting someone in Ontario while sending a Facebook message to someone at the North Pole. 

That’s incredible. 

But it comes at a serious cost. As we become increasingly able to connect virtually, the quantity and quality of authentic, in-person social connectedness suffers miserably. 

And it could be seriously affecting our health. 

A meta-study with a whopping 300,000 participants across all ages found that adults can expect an astonishing 50 percent boost in longevity if they build and maintain a strong social network. And when we say “social network,” we’re not talking about Facebook. 

According to the research, a strong social network “turns out to be just as good for long-term survival as giving up a 15-cigarette-a-day smoking habit,” and is “more crucial to physical health than exercising or beating obesity.” 

You read that right. 


More important than exercise. 

More important than beating obesity. 

More important than a serious smoking habit. 


We were stunned, too.  

Now, we’re not suggesting that you develop a bunch of bad habits thinking that your strong friendships will protect you. 

On the contrary. Why not double up on positive benefits? 

Meet a friend for a group fitness class. 

Meet a few friends for a delicious dinner made with real, fresh ingredients. 

Whatever you do, meet someone. In person. If you don’t already have a strong social network, it’s never too late to start. 

Places like the Saint Paul Athletic Club and University Club of Saint Paul are built-in social networks, filled with interesting, friendly people who automatically share something in common with you, simply by nature of your shared membership. 

Be well. Live longer. Be social.

Experiences > Possessions

“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods.” 

That nugget of wisdom comes from Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University (as reported in Fast Company). Dr. Gilovich has spent more than 20 years examining money and happiness.  

You’ve probably heard that “money can’t buy happiness.” It turns out that money can buy happiness, but only to a point. Dr. Gilovich studies the Easterlin paradox. This phenomenon states that purchasing things does make us happy, but the happiness wears off. We adapt quickly, growing accustomed to the thing. Therefore, the perceived value of the money we spent declines. 

Experiences, however, have the opposite effect. When we spend money on experiences, Gilovich and other researchers who study this paradox find that our satisfaction with the experience (and, thus, the money we spent on that experience) increases over time. 

This might seem counterintuitive: If you buy a thing, you get to keep it. An experience is fleeting. Shouldn’t the thing produce longer-lasting happiness? 

Nope. Not even a little bit. 

Shared experiences are even more valuable, according to Dr. Gilovich. “We consume experiences directly with other people,” he says. “And after they’re gone, they’re part of the stories that we tell to one another.” 

Are you thinking you need to book a world cruise in order to take advantage of the Easterlin paradox? Hardly. As reported in Forbes based on another study from San Francisco State University, the accumulation of smaller experiences are what really matters, and even small moments trump purchases: “Enjoyable evenings out in the company of loved ones will provide a much longer lasting and more fulfilling happiness than the temporary thrill of a large purchase,” writes author Ilya Pozin in the Forbes article. 

Conclusion: Invest in experiences. Invest in memories. Make the dinner reservation. Throw the party. Plan the quick weekend getaway. Your happiness just might depend on it.