The Internet is like a dark magical forest from a fairytale. Half of it is a place of intrigue and wonder, the other half can be downright sinister.
Researchers have unveiled staggering statistics that link excessive Internet use with self-esteem issues, cyberbullying, narcissism and damage to real life relationships. Did Nietzsche predict troll culture when he said: he who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee?
A casual scroll through your daily newsfeed can uncover a litany of horrors. Personal, professional – or even just nasty stories that gain widespread media attention. Frankly, I’ve had my faith in mankind dashed on several occasions just because I read the comment section.
Not all social networks are created equal. Generally speaking, we’re happier to have an opaque, yet public presence on platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Most of us like to keep our more intimate circles, i.e. Facebook, private. But that doesn’t mean that our digital inner sanctum is protected against a case of the cyber-blues.
According to a study, researchers found a direct correlation between excessive Facebook use and having a major case of being down in the dumps. Why? It boils down to comparison.
Facebook, and social media at large, is an easy way to hold side-by-side comparisons between ourselves and the world around us. Comparisons are a sure-fire way to sow the seeds of discontent in your daily life.
One friend might be jetsetting around Turks and Caicos, while another pal posts slushy sentiments about her hot boyfriend. Ms. Turks and Caicos might wish she was in the arms of someone she loved, and Ms. Spoken For wishes she had Ms. Turks killer body.
The problem with weaving a digital narrative of your life, is that it’s rarely a true reflection of who we really are. We can get so involved in spinning the yarn, that our authentic selves are lost in the story. We might present the persona we think the world wants to see, rather than embracing our authentic selves.
Is It Time For A Digitial Detox?
If you feel drained and despondent after a Facebook marathon, it might be time to shut your laptop. If you have a job that relies on using the Internet, don’t despair. You can still find ways to unplug without compromising your professional position.
To Unfriend Or Not Unfriend?
Toxic people should be avoided IRL and online. It can be tempting to hit unfriend if someone is cluttering up your newsfeed with nasty posts. But this is more delicate than it may appear. If fortune dictates that this person is going to be wedged into your life regardless of Facebook connections, you might inadvertently cause them to go on a drama fuelled rampage should you digitally disconnect. Clicking mute or unfollow is the best zen path to avoid toxic tantrums.
10 Tips For Maintaining Digital Zen
Unplugging in the information age isn’t going to work for most of us. Our careers, education and social lives sometimes depend on a WiFi signal. You don’t have to move to a cave in Mongolia to establish digital zen. Mindful use can go a long way to ensuring that you have a healthy relationship with your digital self!
You are what you eat. But your brain also consumes words, messages and ideas just as you consume food. If you poison your mind with toxic messages, it can negatively affect other areas of your life. Avoid any websites or blogs that encourage toxic thinking, or excessively sensationalize negative news stories.
Be aware that some social networks are more likely to be patrolled by trolls and shock jocks. Twitter and Yik Yak have been respectively criticized for failing to deal with online harassment and cases of cyberbullying. Use them with moderation.
Consider your digital karma. If you’re having a bad day, don’t vent about it online – or compare yourself with the comings and goings of your Facebook clique. If you’re feeling low, avoid feeding the monster by releasing negativity online.
Turn off notifications on your phone and laptop. Take control of when and how you interact with social networks. Don’t let the notification bubbles draw you into unproductive patterns.
If you go on vacation, leave the laptop at home! Don’t check emails or status update obsessively. Everybody needs a chance to completely unplug. You can still take lots of cool pics on your adventure! Just save sharing until after you’ve come home.
Turn your phone off when you go to bed – or at least put it on airplane mode if you use the alarm. Don’t surf the Internet in bed!
Don’t forget the nice side of the Internet. Fill up your bookmarks with feel good websites and blogs. Like this one! The Internet may have a dark underbelly, but it can also be a testament to the beauty of humanity. Like whoever made this. HUMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD. See? It’s not all bad out on the cyber frontier.
Amy Rose Lane is a blogger and journalist based in San Diego. Her passions include all things nerd, the working wife life and cuddling puppies. Follow her on Twitter @amyroselane or visit her website at amyroselane.com