The more time we spend online, the less time we spend with our friends and family offline. That’s just a fact. The more time I look at my phone at night, the less time I spend looking at my boyfriend. I’m seeing more and more ‘offline’ challenges lately among bloggers and vloggers – which at first annoyed me a little bit. Is it really that hard to just put your phone away? Apparently, it is.
It’s not crazy, either. We’re so used to our phones now. We’re ‘always on’ and always reachable. We may not have our sound turned on, but that doesn’t stop our screens from lighting up, our phones from vibrating or our minds from wondering whether or not we’ve missed something in the 5 minutes since we’ve last checked our phone.
And to me there’s no doubt that the fact that we’re now ‘always on’ is not necessarily a good thing. We’re stressed. We’re anxious. We can’t keep up with the constant stream of messages, notifications and alerts. This is why people now choose to turn their ‘push notifications’ off – although even those people sometimes admit they can’t deal with seeing the little number on their app which shows they’ve missed something. Notification or not, online life is passing us by if we don’t check our phones.
What about offline life?
But what about offline life? You can’t deny that our offline lives are suffering. When we see a beautiful sunset, or enjoy a delicious plate of food, or a colorful cocktail: are we really enjoying these things if we first feel the need to take a picture of it and post it on social media? And what about the people we’re with? Are we even still connected to those people when we’re constantly trying to update our online lives?
There’s a lot of research on the ways in which the fact that we’re ‘always on’ impacts our lives. Some studies find no effects, others find positive effects and others are a little more critical – like me. I am critical. I love my phone, but I’m the first to admit the negative impact it has on me. There are days I am glued to my phone. I have so many different app groups, notifications, social media platforms, and editing, news and email apps that sometimes I feel like I am losing my mind a little.
Real life energy
And what about keeping up with our offline lives? What about our real-life friendships, our jobs, our relationships and all those real connections we have? Because no matter how much we type, photograph, record voice notes and send smileys, nothing really resembles real, face-to-face contact. The kind where you look into someone’s eyes and sense their emotions. Where you can tell when someone’s sad, or happy. Where you can put your arms around someone, hold them and feel their energy. That’s what life’s about.
No matter how many studies show the benefits of online communication, I don’t think I would hurt to tone it down a little. I’m sure it benefits us in many ways, but it shouldn’t substitute our offline relationships. The connections you have offline with real people form the essence of your life. This is why when you’re upset you feel the need to call someone to hear their voice. And why when you miss someone you can’t wait to see them and hug them. If online communication was so perfect, we’d never have to see the people we’re close with face-to-face ever again. And we all know that’s not true.
The more time we spend online, the more we crave real, offline connections. Well I do anyway. I’m not taking part in any offline challenges or forcing myself to put my phone away. What I’m going to do instead is invest more time in my offline friendships and less time in my superficial, never ending, online activities. I don’t need to read news updates, status updates or see people’s online stories every 5 minutes. I need real people; real laughter, real tears, real emotions, real energy, real memories. I need more real life, offline. Who’s with me?