The Internet, AKA My Best Frenemy

Not unlike many other people my age, I spend a lot of time on the Internet.

Like, a lot.

But that’s not all bad, I suppose. It’s so easy to access loads of information, and I’m probably the wiser from it. I can contact virtually anyone, worldwide, and it’s easier than ever to see photos of my family members, even ones I haven’t seen since I was a little kid. And, of course, the Internet is home to one of my favorite pastimes: memes!

The point at which I really start to have a problem is when I begin to feel actively tired of staring at a screen, but I continue to do so anyway. Sometimes, it’s because I have to, like when I have homework to do or a paper to finish. Other times, it’s because I’m genuinely too lazy to find something else to do. And then, there’s the occasional fear of missing out on things, when it seems like everyone else on the planet is sharing his or her life via social media. If I’m not involved and I’m not following anyone, I’ll be out of the loop! It’s the only way to find that special kind of social fulfillment… right?

I’m incredibly grateful that I live in a time when the Internet is available to me because it’s so useful for communication and research. But when does social accessibility become too much accessibility? Why do I feel the urge to check feeds on apps that rarely make me happy? How much time have I wasted looking at those feeds in the twenty years of life I’ve had so far?

There are plenty of times when social media has made me happy, and I don’t want to ignore that. In fact, there’s one Instagram account that never fails to make me smile, called @nervousgary. It’s just pictures of two sweet doggos, named Gary and Motley, living their best, nervous lives, and everyone in the comment section always seems to have such positive attitudes. Looking at it gives me a little dopamine boost for at least a few minutes, even on my worst days.

But for every Gary and Motley out there, I feel like there are twenty different instances of negativity on the Internet. Hateful comments, negative comments, sometimes even exploitative content, you name it. I usually consider myself an optimist, but I’ve started to realize that, while the Internet makes it super easy to spread positivity, it makes it just as easy to spread negativity too.

I guess this realization was kick-started when my mom deleted her Facebook account. She did this pretty recently, and while she admitted that she’ll probably make a new one, someday, she already seems to enjoy replacing the time she spent on the website with other things (namely her never ending to-do list, but hopefully she’ll get some chill time in there too). She had the guts to step away from something toxic, and now I’m wondering if I need to do the same.

Now, here I am, my finger hovering over the delete button on an app. Why is it so hard to press it? It’s so tempting to want to share every little mundane thing about yourself because there’s always the off chance that someone will be genuinely interested in whatever quote, picture or status you’ve posted. It’s only human to want a little attention. There’s also that ridiculous little hope in my mind that I will, one day, become “Internet famous” (the good kind, not the scandalous kind). Like the legendary Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” While I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about Instagram posts, that doesn’t mean it’s not applicable.

But are such unlikely possibilities really worth risking a bad mood every time I unlock my phone? I do have reasons to keep my accounts, for things like sharing my writing and remembering birthdays (thank you, Facebook notifications), but I can at least avoid them as much as possible. I just hope you won’t miss my horribly unfunny tweets too much, should I take the plunge.