Have you ever wondered what you would do without the internet? Have you ever wondered how that would feel or what it would change? The thought itself is scary and slightly nauseating…but the reality is much, much worse for some people.
So many of us are so caught up in the internet our entire identities have become intertwined with it. If the internet vanished many of us would freak out because we wouldn’t know who we are any more, and no one would know who we were. We’re so busy striving to be relevant or significant with likes/comments/shares that we’re constantly broadcasting ourselves with big neon LOVE ME! signs, yet we’re not even broadcasting the stuff that matters. We’re making ourselves popular on the internet, meaningful, etc….but we’ve missed the point. The internet means nothing. Who you are on the internet isn’t going to help you if the internet vanished or broke, only who you are offline will make any difference.
The things that make you relevant or significant online usually don’t translate too well in the offline world. Think about what people like/comment/share most from you and ask yourself if it’s something people would praise and adore you for in the real world. If people like your bikini pictures – do you think you would like that sort of attention offline? If people like your photos of food or family trips, etc…how many people do you think would like to sit down and look at those pictures offline (and notice how those that did would mean more to you than those who did online?)…realistically much of the stuff we post online to make ourselves meaningful and relevant isn’t something we’d/others would find meaningful or relevant offline, or isn’t something we’d be mass praised for at the very least.
Of course there are exceptions, there always are, and if you’re one of them then congratulations! If you’re not it might be time to take a look at yourself, step back from the internet, and reinvent yourself offline. Ideally we should be using our online presence to back up who we are offline, and to share what we love and can do (and of course to communicate with other human beings). The people who truly do find meaning online are those who have already found it offline. Those are the people who are working hard at something they are passionate about. Many of them have a portfolio or a list of evidence of their accomplishments, and people online are following and loving them for it (hopefully!)
I was thinking about it the other night and have you noticed that the people who seem to be bullied most, disliked most fiercely, and generally outcast are the ones who thrive online? Myself, I don’t have many friends offline, but online I have a lot of them…and that’s pretty sad (even though I love all of my online friends very much!). I’m meaningful in a place that doesn’t add much meaning to my life outside of the internet. It doesn’t enrich me in the way having offline friends and love would. I’m significant in the most insignificant of places.