We’re Fighting for Significance in the most Insignificant of Places

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.

 

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13 Comments on "We’re Fighting for Significance in the most Insignificant of Places"

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michaelbesnard

It’s a scary thought, no internet, I spend a great deal of time online and it’s where I feel my best, offline I sometimes feel distant from everything and find myself not knowing what to do with myself (I do get out a lot but not as much as I should) My dream/career is online, my life is online, I now feel like I should reconnect with my offline self.

Thanks Jade for the awesome post! You got me thinking quite a bit about whats going on in my life and what’s important to me 🙂

lexwriter256
lexwriter256
These are some very good points that are very worth thinking about. I believe there are many negative and positive things as well as practical and unrealistic ideals that go along with presenting oneself on the Internet. As I think that most of us can agree the Internet has given us more options to do many things, from applying to jobs to organizing our personal information, that were more difficult to do in times past. It is even possible to work from home via a secure Internet connection. A cellular phone with an Internet connection makes it easy for us to pull up a map if we get lost on the road. I myself would say that the Internet has given us fast and easy access to many things that, even just ten years ago, would have taken longer to do or could not have been done by the average person. In a perfect world were everything would be in balance the Internet would always be used as a tool and never as a crutch, but being humans we do not keep things in balance the way we should. Social networking is in itself a very useful tool. It’s fun,… Read more »
HDR
HDR
I have thought about this a lot as well Jade. So many people do have most of their interaction with people on the internet and not face to face. I often think that maybe people who are shy and not as outgoing as others feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings online instead of face to face. I agree with you that people are more apt to share things online that they wouldn’t in person, but I think that a lot of times they do so to connect with people. I have a very shy friend that is to herself most of the time. When I became friends with her on Facebook though I found out so much more about her. Just because she felt more comfortable sharing things without being face to face with people. I found out that she is an amazing lady that has so much talent. I also think that the internet has helped people to be able to hide instead of forcing them to learn how to associate with people in “the real world”. The social media also allows people to say whatever they want because they feel bolder not actually looking at a… Read more »
Jasmine2015
Jasmine2015

I think alot of people would be lost without the Internet. Before the time of tablets,kindles,and smartphones, I read books as my favorite past time. Now my younger siblings could read all of these books on electronics but sometimes nothing compares to having a hard copy. The Internet does give a place for people to connect long distances which is great. But it can also create the perfect environment for narcissism.

Jadenlynx

The internet is a great thing for people who cannot get out much, maybe due to a handicap, illness or lack of transportation. For many the internet is their only means of communication. It is also a means of communication with no judgements due to appearance, age or financial status. Online you can be who you are or who you want. People are more free with their personality with the anonymous nature of the internet, and that can be a bad thing as well as good. People can be as big a jerk as they want, with no accountability, online. They can bully, be mean and abuse others whenever they want.

So you see, the internet can be a blessing and a curse.

Kelsie Dopart
Kelsie Dopart

I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes I get so sick of the internet and how people (Including myself) are so obsessed with it. It makes us so anti-social. It takes away genuine relationships.

I wonder if people were happier before the advent of social media. Yes, there world was smaller, but they didn’t have to worry about FOMO or about getting approval from so many people. I sometimes catch myself caring too much about what I see on Facebook or Instagram and it requires some introspection to let go of it. I’m currently traveling in South America, and yesterday, I went to an amazing waterfall. It was at the bottom of a lush, green, tucked away cove and you could swim in a small pool at the bottom. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had on the trip. BUT! I caught myself caring more about the pictures I could post later than the experience I was having right in that moment! How sad is that? Well, I pulled myself out of that place in my head and just floated in the pool. I am glad I caught it in time, or I would have spent that whole day mentally online. I recognize the irony of posting that here, but I think your title here says it all… I want my significance to come from inside myself, not from my digital… Read more »

I wrote something here but I don’t see it and I don’t think it went through. If it did, please forgive the repetition! Here it is again: I’m currently on a post-graduate trip to South America with a friend. Yesterday, we went to an amazing waterfall where you had to hike though a lush forest and could swim at the bottom in a small pool. It was lovely and exciting and beautiful. But then I caught myself mentally thinking about all the picture posting I could do later, about what my friends would think… I was ashamed! I couldn’t just enjoy the moment of where I was. So glad I caught it in time, because I just took a dive in the water and floated for awhile. I see that it’s ironic that I’m posting it now, but the meta experience relates. I wonder if people were happier before the advent of social media, because they could just live their lives.

hanbar101
hanbar101

Contradictory to what you said, I think I’d know myself better without the internet. Instead of changing myself to become what I see others to be online (which isn’t even true to themselves 99% of the time), I would focus on myself and become who I truly was instead of what I want others to think I am. At the same time without the internet I think the internet enriches who I am through making me more knowledgeable in a lot of areas and has also increased my confidence where I’ve had approval through social media. At the same time it has also had negative impacts seeing others lead lives much more interesting than my own as they display it over Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.

Gem Acrid

I was never a social butterfly online or offline, I’ve been on the internet for a while now and I’ve only starting putting myself and my work out there! I definitely fear falling into the “attention” trap; The thought of having to rely on others for my self-worth is a scary one. I want to be independent and confident in myself without others telling me what they think of me, or how I should think of myself. (Easier said than done, but we can only hope!)

Like all things, balance and moderation are wonderful things. Being relevant on the internet has different connotations that being relevant in the true scope of things. If you’re talking about those people who compulsively show off the “best” parts of their life. (read, vacations, money, material objects) in some misguided attempt to make themselves feel better. Then you definitely have a problem. But if you talk about those who create, share and inspire. (akin to yourself!) than their relevance is actually worth something.

The internet is a tool for self-betterment, sadly, not everyone uses it correctly.

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