Limiting Online Communication
Today I'm starting a new experiment for my well-being. I have decided to cut down on almost all forms of instant messaging. Over the past few years I've noticed how attached to phones and other electronic devices my generation (I'm 21) is. I've also talked to multiple people that are older than me, who've also expressed concern about how my generation functions. Phones and instant messaging have become "the solutions" to problems such as: talking about hard topics, laziness to leave the house, the concept of a social battery, not being happy with yourself, stuff like that.
I can speak from my own experience that discussing hard topics is easier through text and even easier in a non-native tongue (English). Talking about serious topics in person is almost never done, if it is, it doesn't go well. When I was talking to my friends over Discord and we started talking about something serious we'd instinctively switch to English.
Many people, me included, don't want to leave the house for a multitude of different reasons. It may be some random onset of social awkwardness, the feeling that everyone outside has nothing better to do than watch you and judge you (I have that too sometimes and it's the silliest thing ever). This then leads to unsocial weekends as generally during the week you're forced to leave the house, be it university or work. These solitary weekends then have negative consequences as one generally realizes that such a weekend is not good for them, which leads to feeling worse which leads to not leaving the house more. This starts a vicious cycle, but we'll come back to that later.
There are also those that have grown accustomed to using "the social battery" as an excuse to not be social. They decide they have a set amount of socializing they're able to do per day or week. If they go over that arbitrary amount, they start to manifest the feelings of being socially exhausted and then proceed to end the session. Interestingly, chatting online seems to deplete "the battery" less. Which makes sense, I'm not saying that this behavior is completely self-induced and made up, but I do think people that function like this, reinforce it within themselves. The fact that chatting online seems to not be as draining leads to such people relying on online communication to not feel alone while not going over their quotas. This leads to, what I would describe as a fake feeling of companionship.
This last point is applies to me personally. I seem to not be able to be alone, not because I need people 24/7, but because I don't seem to be able to be alone with just myself. I think it's a case of distracting myself with others, to not have to deal with me and how I feel. When the distraction goes away, I have no choice but to focus on myself again which then leads to feeling of sadness and such stuff. I have not observed this phenomenon in other people, but frankly this is a thing which manifests while alone and understandably people are reluctant to talk about it. As talking about it breaks the illusion that the distraction of socializing provides.
It is also interesting that people that live in huge cities feel more alone than those that live in small towns and villages. One of the causes is in my opinion the fact that in such a huge city everyone lives somewhere completely different so it's impractical to meet up randomly and on short notice. Meetings are arranged before-hand and a good while before they take place. While going to and from a social hangout, one is completely alone, even when surrounded by dozens of people on the metro, tram, bus or even while just walking home. The density of people one actually interacts with goes down, the rest may as well just be NPCs.
Due to all described above, I've decided that I will only use online communication mediums like Discord, Whatsapp, Matrix to arrange meetings and other real life events. I want to hang out with real people in the real world not with profile pictures on my phone. I've spent way too much time chatting with people, even though I care about those people, If I'm to continue interacting with them they'll have to be willing to meet up with me. I am more than willing to that and I hope others will be willing to do the same. If not then it is a shame but I will not stare into my phone alone. I'm sure some will be unhappy about this new policy, I'm sure I will loose a few friends, but my hope is that this change will lead to better friendships and a better well-being for me and my remaining friends. I refuse to be a part of and contribute to the degradation of humanity due to the internet and its less than amazing aspects.