Hi, my name is Janet and I'm addicted to the Internet!
For the vast majority of my life I've been logged into this manmade matrix. I will unashamedly admit to loving the world wide web sometimes more than reality itself. I mean, where else can you find out which Simpsons character you are, spend all of your disposable income on random articles from eBay and witness the wonder that is Nicolas Cage's face photoshopped on every celebrity ever. Not to mention the Leonardo DiCaprio Oscar memes that united the world. This deep-rooted affection for hyperspace stems deeply from my younger years. When I reminisce on my youth, there are no rose tinted memories or hue of perpetual summer. Instead, I recall running home from school with soggy cheeks and eyes tainted scarlet. I was never one of the in-crowd and I felt the fallout for this.
There was, however, a glimmer of a silver lining within this dark cloud.
Thanks to the dawning of the age of technology, I was never alone. I spent morning, noon and night online, mostly residing in various social media sites. I sought solace on the Internet. Ostracised from my peers in the real world, I found many a friend on the web - most of whom shared similar stories to mine. There is a concerning flip side. When we log on, what are we signing up for? Once you create a digital identity, you open the floodgates to positive and negative judgments. Bullying isn't something that I am unfamiliar with. Whether it's in 'real life' or in cyberspace, I've been affected by both. The real onslaught ensued when my younger self was beamed into the living rooms of millions. Years of ingrained social awkwardness and intense insecurities were misconstrued as shyness. Looking back upon my X Factor audition or old video clips of myself, it feels like I'm watching someone else. When I recall some of the comments I received online, I can see why I was afraid. It took me five years to grow out of my introverted, self-deprecating shell.
However, I know I'm not the only one. These days I'm not so afraid of everything and everyone. But you don't have to have an online presence to receive comments of a nasty or threatening nature. It does make me question humanity's ethics.
Although anonymous hate is not what you sign up for, it is definitely within the small print. In my past I would've taken the unfavourable comments and used them as biblical justification for my insecurities. Not today though. These days I am as impenetrable as the Batmobile. Years of over exposure to Internet trolls have gifted me with skin thicker than a rhinoceros' backside. So how did the metamorphosis from self-conscious teen to self-assured adult occur?
I logged out.
Shut down my systems and hit the switch on my wi-fi. I ventured into the big bad world of the 'Outernet'. For a whole week I was unplugged. Though my Internet intermission was brief, I can hand on heart say it was rather satisfying. As magnificent as the world wide web is, where do we draw the line? We are permanently bombarded with the majesties of the online world, witnessing videos of the seemingly impossible becoming possible. Has the overexposure of awesomeness desensitised us and made the extraordinary simply... ordinary? With masses asking themselves these questions, the inevitability of "digital detoxing" arose. I mean, how many feats of human nature have you scrolled past on your timeline today?
I'm not going to sit here and preach about taking ourselves offline for an eternity. That would be the height of hypocrisy as I am typing this on my Internet machine... (taking brief intervals from writing to watch videos of surfing dogs on YouTube). I'm not saying we should all journey to the Himalayas, yoga mats in hand. I am merely recommending this detox in its most simplistic of manners. By switching off for small intervals. Taking a few hours a day to be present, in the now, and pressing a brief pause button on the never-ending scroll. Small social respites enable us to see what the Internet truly is. The holy grail of cute animal videos.