I'm becoming more and more of an internet hermit. This is incredibly weird for me, because I've always been a big online person. I spent my whole teenager-dom in online fandom, talking to friends all around the world, reading forums, and generally nerding out. The internet is the reason I went to the college I did, the reason I got to live in Japan, the reason I'm able to be published in the US.
But oh my god, am I realizing that the internet is a terrible place for me to be right now.
Maybe it's because it's become more centralized and social, with sites like Reddit and Twitter instead of the sprawl of individual sites based on interests. Maybe it's that, although the Internet was full of plenty of drama back then, it seems to have got meaner and snarkier and troll-ier. Maybe it's the non-stop access, carried with us wherever we go. Whatever it is, it is so, so, so unhealthy for me.
I started a few months ago, when I bought myself an almost-dumb phone. It still gets Whatsapp and Facebook messenger, and it can technically connect to the internet, but it's got such a small screen and slow connection that it's too annoying to use for general browsing, and social media is a no-go. I still flip my simcard back and forth between it and my smartphone when I'm going to need apps while I'm out and about, but the majority of the time now, I keep my smartphone turned off and carry my ugly little Nokia 302 with me. And omg, I feel so much less stressed and anxious all the time. I'm no longer pulled into endless cycles of social media checking when I actually want to be doing something, anything else.
And I've been trying to stop myself from going on websites that I know stress me out. Twitter. Reddit. The news. Whenever I succeed, I feel calmer, and when I cave in, I spend the rest of the day feeling much lower and more anxious. It makes me feel so out of sync with the normal world, realizing the extent that social media and Internet browsing affects me, but I've gone through a lot of changes in the past few years, and if logging off makes me a super weirdo hipster, then I guess that's what I'll have to be.
Because I realized that it's not just my general state of mind that gets affected. It's my ability to write. I get self-conscious and convinced that whatever I'm going to say is "wrong," even if I'm just talking about my own feelings. I second guess every word I have, based on this fear of nebulous, sourceless judgement.
All in all, it's just... bad. I struggle to stop, because the habits are so ingrained, and there's something very reassuring, in the short term, about logging onto a website and using it to pass the time instead of getting too bored and listening to whatever thoughts are lurking in the corners of my brain. But enough is enough.
I'm still contactable, via email or Tweet or whatever you like. But in the in-between times, I'm going to be spending a lot more time offline. If that makes me out of the loop on certain things, so be it. I think, these days, we all need to give ourselves a bit more detachment, and a bit more space to breathe.