Would we be happier without the internet?

I’ve often said I found “my people” online. I found a community of introverts who love conversing at a distance. I’ve learned more than I probably ever would have without the easy access of Google. I’ve made dear friends online, many of whom crossed over into being “real life” friends, although even the ones I haven’t met in person mean a lot to me. For more than a decade, I’ve spent spare time online chatting, learning, earning an income… but at what cost?

With the internet comes what I call “full frontal” access to absolutely everything. I’m acutely aware of the suffering of people in all countries, of atrocities that take place minute-by-minute. We hear of child abductions, murders, wars, diseases and more daily. It’s a pretty bleak world out there sometimes and it’s not like the internet is making it any sunnier.

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We see snippets of peoples’ lives that make some people feel ashamed, or like failures because they don’t seem to have the same things in their lives. We’re constantly reminded to never judge our whole life by someone else’s highlight reel because really, the whole internet is one giant highlight reel, isn’t it? And even when it’s not positive things, it’s misery blown wide open, too. It’s oversharing to the extreme.

They eat better food (their kids sure eat better than ours!), they have a tidier (and bigger!) house, they go on cooler (and more!) vacations… it’s relentless. They’re craftier. They spend more quality time with their spouse. Their kids are smarter, better behaved, better everything. They’re happier, they’re more successful, life’s better on the other side.

The car seat you chose isn’t the “best” one.
You’re letting your kid have too much screen time.
Your kids aren’t in enough sports or activities.
The things you value aren’t the right things.
You’re wearing the wrong clothes.
You don’t have enough, you won’t be enough.

There’s just so much more information being thrown at us from every direction that it’s really hard to stand tall and be confident in our own choices sometimes. For every opinion we express, there are countless people ready to tell us why we’re wrong, and why their opinions are facts.

I hear people talk about how Pinterest makes them feel like failures (instead of feeling inspired by it), and hear them talk about the Instagram feeds of some people making them feel guilty about the way they eat. There are countless blog posts begging for us to read about how we should shut down, turn off, and just get outside! (BUT READ THEIR BLOG FIRST!) Everyone has an opinion, everyone else is right, you should totally listen to them. The trolls leaving cruel comments, the ignorance on full display, the insults, immaturity…

Sometimes I wonder if we would really just be a happier bunch overall without access to the internet. What do you think?

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Alex

9 thoughts on “Would we be happier without the internet?

  1. Oh, I struggle with this, particularly given that what living I make I make on the back of social media.

    I try to disconnect on weekends except posting the odd picture on FB because I find that if I don’t, I go down the rabbit hole EVERY SINGLE TIME and I come out the worse for it at the other end. Then again, I have found amazing people through SoMe and I love that so much of what I need to deal with daily can be dealt with online (ordering dinner, finding out operating hours of xyz business, sending / receiving money, invoicing, etc…) It’s definitely a love / hate relationship for me.

  2. I’ve been thinking lately that I’d love to have alternaring online days and offline days. The elusive balance! I might try it in another year when all my kids are finally in school and my work schedule is more flexible.

  3. In short. Maybe.

    Helpful, eh? 😀

    Seriously though, where is the focus? That’s the real issue. If you fill your head with garbage, then you will have a head full of, well, garbage!

    I look for positive things. It doesn’t matter the media. TV, books, magazines, news, internet, grocery store, highway, backyard, schoolyard, field. I see the good. It is a choice.

    Trash in. Trash out.

    It doesn’t mean I am oblivious to the awful things in the world. I do have the freedom to choose what I value enough to give my attention, though.

    I choose to see the good. I cannot solve the problems of the world all alone, but I sure as heck am not helping anyone brooding over them either. So, I do what I *can* do. Everyday I can do them.

    Wildflowers don’t care where they grow. They just grow.

  4. I’ll answer with an unequivocal NOPE. I would not be happier without the Internet. I first went online to a BBS in 1992 and since then, I’ve been finding my people online when I couldn’t find them IRL. Sure, there’s some crap out there, but the people I know online don’t make me feel more insecure about myself and my choices than the ones around me IRL. At least I have my people online.

    1. I think my answer is, “nope”, but it’s not as assured as yours. While I’ve definitely found my people online, I don’t know anyone in my offline life who would dare spout hatred like the anonymous (and sometimes not anon) people I’ve come across online.

  5. “There are countless blog posts begging for us to read about how we
    should shut down, turn off, and just get outside! (BUT READ THEIR BLOG
    FIRST!)”

    When I sense this attitude in the average “go outside and play” post, I feel like it’s a cynical grab for pageviews, clicks, likes, shares, tweets, pins and whatever else is out there. It grosses me out.

    It’s not the medium that makes people feel bad, it’s the message. The medium just amps up the speed. I feel bad reading certain kinds of magazines once a month. If I read certain kinds stuff online, I can feel bad 24×7. I don’t want to feel bad 24×7 so I really try to keep my personal filters strong in all the kinds of media I consume. As Nelson Muntz once said “stop hittin’ yourself.”

    That said, I also find happy-wappy overly-glossed over positivity insincere at best and damaging at worst. I try to live by Wil Wheaton’s “Don’t be a Dick Rule” online. It usually works.

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