I’ve been on the internet for quite a while. As a matter of fact, I grew up on it.
My first obsession was back in 2005 when I first discovered online dress-up games. I was 6, and totally obsessed. Later that same decade, in 2008, to be exact, YouTube was my thing. I would rush home from school every single day, turn my computer on, go to YouTube and watch music videos for hours.
It was a different time back then. You couldn’t really carry the internet in your pocket as freely as you can today. We had to wait for that last class or shift to be over, in order to go home and browse the limited amount of info we could at the time.
Was it exciting? Definitely more than it is today, but I’ll tell you what it was lesser than today: it was less addictive.
Back then, if you wanted to find a unique community or group, you had to either create a website (which was very shit by the way) or find a forum you wanted to be a part of.
Today, the apps such as TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube automatically recommend and push you to a niche they deem fit, based on interest and location targeting that is heavily used on every user in their database.
They do this because it is in their interest to keep you up and scrolling on their platform for as long as possible. This is why all your currently favorite pieces or types of content and creators have been shoved down your throat only a couple of months prior.
Click, like, comment, search – your every activity is reflected then stored data which can be used to sell you ads based on interest targeting. Double ads on YouTube, sponsorships, and promotions. Click, like, comment, search = ad, interest, click, purchase. That is why they want you to stick around for a while.
A never-ending loop of extensive Social Media usage that promotes less than healthy imagery and living standards. It is as if we are all collectively living in Times Square, only virtually.
So, how do we escape this Hell promoted as Paradise? Before the grand escape, let’s actually see what we’re escaping from, and what it means to delete, or limit internet usage today.
How internet living standards push us to spend more
We talked about Instagram beauty standards a couple of blogs ago, so we’re pretty familiar with how unhealthy it is to compare yourself with what you see online.
But how does our sad obsession with the internet correlate to this?
Easy: They market you a brand new life, as long as you’re online enough to buy it (both mentally and money-wise).
Let’s say you’ve scrolled through Kylie Jenner’s Instagram a bit too long and realized that you want cheeks like hers, makeup, long hair, and a slimmer nose. After a while, it’s not even what you want, you feel as if you need it.
And wouldn’t you know, who showed up just around the corner: Kylie Cosmetics, Dr. Miami, and whatever else product some random Influencer told you would contour your nose and make your hair grow. You click on all the ads, purchase what you can, be satisfied for a while, and bam: now you’re scrolling through Gigi Hadid’s Instagram and want a waist like hers, and down the rabbit hole we go yet again, over and over.
And this isn’t just about looks, it’s about careers, housing, money, and life in general. Big companies thrive from the insecurities of folks who spend way too much time on the internet because they want to sell them a nightmare disguised as a daydream.
Here’s our advice: Unfollow, block or limit any user or content that makes you insecure. Remember, you are in charge of the content you expose yourself to, and you are also in charge of how it affects you. Does it make you insecure? Unfollow and restrict.
Especially when it comes to social media, restrict things as much as possible. Personally, I deleted TikTok and Twitter because I was spending way too much time on those apps. Now, I only grab my phone to respond to messages or emails, and to use Spotify. Instagram was never my cup of tea thankfully.
Grab your shit and go touch some grass
In the last couple of months, I realized that I predominantly go outside when I need to go to work, to my mom’s place or when I go out with my boyfriend or friends.
I haven’t been hiking in a long time, despite absolutely loving it. I also used to love working from a coffee shop, then walking back home for more than 11 km. I love walking and listening to music, a lot. But my anxiety has made it harder for me to enjoy it when I was really going through it.
Luckily, I did the following: I stopped using social media and heavily addicting and engaging content to replace my hobbies. I deleted most of my apps and went out. Every time I felt anxious, I went out anyway, just to spite my own mental state of mind.
I was so bored of being anxious, and on my phone all the time – so I grabbed my shit (just my wallet) and went out to touch some damn grass.
I left my phone at home, and in the beginning, it felt like I left an arm or leg at home. Like a part of me was missing. That’s when I knew I had a problem.
It is freeing to spend hours away from the internet, with no possibility to check up on messages or notifications. No sounds or anything, just you and your thoughts. You’d be surprised how well it works, especially when you’re overwhelmed by work, bills, or life in general.
The art of Socializing, even when you think you don’t want to
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve barely gone out with my friends, thinking I would hate it, but actually ended up having a wonderful and very soul and mind freeing time. While we’re getting ready, we often focus on how we look, cab money, if we’ll be there in time, if we’ll find the address, etc. Stress, stress, stress.
Simultaneously, we completely neglect the fact that all of those “troubles” simply fade away during our second beer and a deep but incredibly fun conversion about politics with our crazy friend Dan, whom we haven’t seen in a while.
I would often sit there with them, in the midst of many alcohol bottles and child-like laughter, and I would freeze that scene as a memory like I would take a picture. I catch my happiness off guard and become aware of it when it’s happening, just so I could remember those moments when I’m too old and too tired to care.
No app can produce a picture like a mind can a vivid memory.
I also visit my mom more and make sure to not be on my phone while I’m there. Cherish your folks, offline. But while you are online, do send them a funny meme or two.
Go back to your roots
I’ll ask you this, just like I’ve asked myself: What did you do for pure fun before the internet was as prominent as it is now?
Personally, I used to love listening to Ludovico Einaudi for example, while reading or writing my book that will thankfully never see the light of day, due to my age at the time being 15 years old.
To be honest with you, I’m doing so right now. I’m listening to this very inspiring and calming playlist I made and writing this blog. My phone is all the way in my room, charging. It feels really good if I must admit.
Here’s another tip: turn all your notifications off. Instagram, Twitter, or whatever you use, turn it all off. You’ll only be able to see all the notifications once you enter the app directly, but they won’t show up on your phone.
I only kept WhatsApp and Gmail for my folks, as well as my folks at work.
That’s about it.
Meditate, for real
I used to be one of those people who would never understand meditation. I would try, time and time again, but I never felt that relaxing “wow” moment.
This is of course until my therapist gave me her breathing and meditation tapes. It’s like audio instructions, you play them and do what she says. Breath in, breathe out, sit down, stretch, imagine this or that, breathe some more and you get the point.
It sounds all so basic, I know. But once you put your mind and body to it, it really calms you down and clears your head. And with a clean slate in your mind, you are much more capable of doing things outside of what the internet has to offer.
You could learn a new recipe, yes make a mess in your kitchen as I did a few nights ago. Read that book you’ve been avoiding for months and call to visit your grandma every now and then, I mean seriously.
Whatever the case may be, remember this: the things we long for the most in life, truly, never come from a device, but from what’s all around and right within us.