Chronically Online: The Fatal Diagnosis

When was the last time you took a walk through the park?

By Bailen Hayford

A crowded street. People bustling and rushing with no direction. No room for cars, no room to breathe. Old houses painted over, bordered up windows, and shattered ones too. Scaffolding with no workers working. Fights breakout. People cry out. Some secluded themselves in worlds of their own, and some make their world. Some watch, some play. People feel connected, yet they talk through masks and filters. House lights flicker on and off. Kids play where adults should. Although the sight is overwhelming, one thing is for certain. There’s an issue. This site is one Gen Z sees all too often. Social media has been broken, pushed to a limit where no one has been in history, we broke what was meant to unite us all.

During Covid-19 we were stuck in our houses, with no room to play and explore so we went digital. We became stuck in this bustling street and when the pandemic ended, we never took the walk, a block over, to the park. This condition is what the internet has coined “chronically online.” This condition affects all of us today and we need to take some time to smell the flowers.

Chronically online isn’t called chronic for anything. People who are chronically online forget how the real world works. Cancel culture is a great example of this. With what are lynch mobs watching people who have a following, influencers are not safe. They must walk on eggshells of what is politically correct. Yet these people who cancel others don’t understand that away from their keyboards, their all-caps and hashtags mean nothing. A person being canceled can ignore it, they can move on and work. They can grow and become new. Yet the lynch mob continues because they are unhappy in their life, so everyone must be unhappy as well. At the end of the day, taxes will be paid, work will be done, and the sun will set. To those keyboard lynch mobs glued to the anonymity of online, a bluebird is their escape, yet it has trapped them.

The biggest way that being chronically online affects teens is that we have merged into having similar personalities.

The biggest way that being chronically online affects teens is that we have merged into having similar personalities. With the rise of Tik Tok, regular people gain followers quickly. No time in history has one person had 149,000,000 people taking in their personality, and characteristics daily. Trends rise and soak into teen’s social life. Being a teen is when the biggest changes happen. Influencers, trends, and 30 seconds of songs make us a hive mind.

Take the walk to the park. Hear the birds chirping, water flowing, leaves rustling, and the gravel shifting as you step. Feel the wind blowing, the sun beaming, and your lungs breathing. Although there is a homeless man on the bench, street vendors ripping people off, and girls being broken up with, there is tranquility, and the thought that you could run into the sunset.

I challenge you to detox from social media. Take a week or a few days off. Go outside, do something new, or simply let your mind wander. Being online has connected us all but it doesn’t mean it has to control you. I challenge you to simply yet your mind wander because when you are alone the true, undisturbed, you comes out. You don’t need to be politically correct or feed into what your “for you page” has to offer, find your individuality by letting your mind wander. We have become chronically online but do not make it a fatal diagnosis.