I’m getting tired of being online. It’s sort of an existential thing, really.
Expressing frustration for the online realm often conjures up thoughts of social media or Netflix, but those make up a comparatively small portion of time I spend online.
Living online is a necessity, everyone wants you to do it. It’s education, banking, working. And when it’s not doing something online, it’s thinking about doing something online — then it’s about being distantly aware of something that needs to get done, read, sent, or deleted. It’s no wonder anxiety levels are exploding, we exist everywhere at once.
There’s a number of studies that reveal the incredible amount of time people spend on social media — alarming numbers. According to GlobalWebIndex, an audience profiling data company, 16–24 year olds spend 3.5 hours using social media a day, which is a third of their total time online.
We talk about social media consuming all this time, and it does, and there’s lots of data. But I’m curious about all the other online hours, the other two thirds (or more).
There’s a very blurry line between online and offline, I think. How much time is actually spent online — or the inverse, how much time is not spent offline. What’s of a particular interest to me is what happens after signing off, closing the screen, entering airplane mode. Because being online doesn’t really stop when we unplug, so to speak. Being offline is basically just being online except you can’t get your fix. Who’s responding to my tweets? Do I have emails I need to read? Did my assignment upload properly? Don’t I have an assignment due? It’s toxic. Being offline comes with that pervasive anxiety that constantly looms overhead — not being able to check the things you’d check if you were online.
Is there a good solution? Not really. Not going online for a day today is practically the equivalent of disappearing for 13 years in the Canadian North. (“He’s dead by now.”) Besides, taking a break from being online is probably the worst way to address the problem. An online hiatus is basically delaying defecation. You’re only making the shit-storm messier.
These new rules of living socially are killing my sense of self. I just got Facebook and now my life sucks. My friends are screens, their voices are however I imagine them, and I’m the perfect balance of awesome and interesting, without appearing too conceited. The only difference now is I get invited to things.
According to practically every study on the topic, too much internet use can cause stress, sleep disorders, and depression — oh, and a swath of other issues. Well I am bereft of joy so maybe I’ll trade in my laptop for a typewriter.
At this point I almost wish my phone was sentient. I’m ready for it, to embrace the whole artificial intelligence thing. I just really want my phone to feel my anger and suffer when I tell it to burn in hell.
Last week, I caught myself screaming at my computer: “You work for me. You work for me,” making grotesque faces, trying to scare the tech into submission.
Now, each day, like a mirror, I reflect and appear more and more like my computer. When I wake up, so does my device. When I go to work, so does my device. When I need to a little something, I go to my vice.