Make the Internet a Reward, Not a Lifestyle

Graphic by Ariel Zhang/The Choate News

The internet, of course, has drastically changed the way we interact with one another, as well as negatively affected the way we see ourselves. Too often, it’s “Did you see what she posted?” or “Did you hear what he DM’ed her?,” and as a result, we often lack a level of discourse that indicates genuine empathy for a fellow human. Additionally, reliance on the Internet has grown so severe that it is impossible to imagine life without owning at least a couple of devices. Where on campus do people hang out without their phones?

The internet doesn’t provide us an escape from real life — it distracts us from it. I am a bookworm, and I attribute the reluctance to read alone in my room entirely to the deleterious pressure of socializing. A would-be fun activity like poring over a good book pales in comparison to the snippets of my friends’ lives they choose to post. With pictures and videos of my friends’ dinners out or trips to the mall just a few taps away, I also feel the need to socialize, closing my book and picking up my phone.

Even everyday conversation is tainted by the influence of the internet. Ten years ago, the phrases “LMR,” “leave on read,” and “you should really VSCO that” had no meaning. In the present day, however, it seems that everyone uses these terms. That is not to say that we cannot adopt internet jargon to accommodate the evolving world. It becomes too great an issue, however, when our generation’s patois polarizes us from our predecessors and stunts cross-generational interaction. Adults have expressed their displeasure at having to decipher phrases like “that’s so beat.” That some of us are simply unable to converse properly because of how we’ve been conditioned by the internet is just distasteful.

Relationships in the modern world are tied intrinsically to the internet in the worst way possible. To measure how close a pair of people are, simply see how much they Snapchat each other. It doesn’t matter that the two don’t talk to each other in person, as long as they’re on each others’ “best friends list” on Snapchat and have a sizable streak. Physically attracted to someone? Feel free to skip chivalry, dates, and romantic attraction — just send a request to hook up with him or her, and see if your interest is requited. The ease with which we can create pixelated, emoji-filled relationships with one another is a grim prospect for society as a whole.

The solution? Might we remove ourselves from negative habits entirely? A while ago, I uninstalled Instagram after finding myself scrolling through my feed too often. I felt as though I were divorcing from an unhealthy partner, and yet I realized quickly that my great fear of missing out never showed up. It certainly felt more like a victory than a sacrifice. Occasionally, I scroll through my feed on my web browser, but, because I do so infrequently and without commitment, it feels alright.

I highly recommend uninstalling, especially if you feel as though your life revolves around a particular social media platform. By distancing yourself from the internet, you will grant yourself a much safer and more rewarding experience at Choate and beyond.

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