5 Things To Remember About The Internet

1. Internet relationships aren’t real.

I concede that chatting with a girl from Canada whose profile pics are all perfectly angled who’s got an amazingly curated MPDG Tumblr who somehow manages to strike this sexy balance of affect and intrigue just by the way she ‘talks’ (chats) can trick you into feeling super connected and attracted to her, that’s totally possible, but just remember that you aren’t actually attracted to her. You’re just like attracted to all the data she carefully feeds you. In other words there is no guarantee that your feelings of attraction online will in any way translate to physical reality. It’s not something you can count on. Because when we’re face to face with members of the preferred sex who we’re trying to get something going with, I think we’re mostly working off prelanguage stuff — body language, eye contact, physical touch, frequency of laughter, physical attractiveness. The internet leaves all that out, so our brains trick us by imagining the information to fill in the gaps. And it does it with a bias basically completely unconnected to reality. Duh, right? But it’s so easy to let yourself slip into the comfort of an internet crush, however ultimately unsatisfying and delusional it actually is.

2. People are way, way different IRL than they are online.

Just as with internet crushes, we have this tendency to take relatively sparse bits of information and withdraw from them a much, much wider context based mostly on non-concrete stuff like our hopes, expectations, and interpretation of the ‘tone’ of emails, IMs, and texts. In other words someone can seem so funny online but then when you meet them IRL they’re oddly serious and when you try to joke with them they’re either unresponsive or just fail to understand the references you’re throwing at them. Awkward stuff like that. The point is that one’s general online ‘profile’ (including emails and chats) is more a static canvas not limited by the constraints of linear time whereas one’s RL persona is, which, among other things, makes the two much, much different. It’s very easy to forget this.

3. Hanging out online is a poor substitute for IRL.

IRL hanging out generally involves a bunch of stuff that sitting in your mildewy basement apartment at 3AM chatting with someone you’ve never met doesn’t, like, walking, and talking, and maybe spending money at a local business, and eye contact, and shared laughter, and all that. When you’re hanging out on the internet you are functionally just ‘tittering’ at an inanimate object in your underwear, with your sink full of dirty dishes and you haven’t brushed your teeth for days. This is not good. IRL is better. Don’t forget it.

4. Stop slouching.

Right now. Seriously — stop slouching. It’s bad for your posture. Keep going like that and you’ll be hunchbacked by the time you’re 50.

5. The internet is unnecessary.

I get that the internet provides jobs and stuff but when it comes down to it when Western civilization declines to the point that oil’s too expensive and natural gas has all but been depleted and rollling blackouts are a daily part of life, none of us are gonna be like, “Damn, I need to get on Gchat, this is terrible!” We’re more likely to want warm clothes and tools for building furniture and stuff. Concrete skills. Internet savvy will be a thing of the past. And more concretely, how much do we really need the internet when we’re like, hanging out with our friends? It doesn’t matter then. It probably shouldn’t matter as much now. TC mark


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  • Guest

    reddit would whole-heartily disagree with you

  • Anonymous

    This is all true, but sometimes hanging out on the internet is so damn satisfying, while requiring minimal effort.

  • Guest

    I hate stuff like this. I think it only applies to people who go out of their way to give themselves some kind of sparkling internet persona, prancing around duckfacing any time they spot a camera. FYI, Canadian girl actually is a real human being. My boyfriend and I met online, living 2000 miles apart, spent a year chatting and texting before we met in person. He subsequently moved to my state and now we live together, and we couldn’t be happier. And we enjoy playing games online with friends we’ve never actually met just as much as we enjoy going out with friends we know IRL, and we don’t have to be stereotypical basement dwelling WOW players to do so.

    You can waste just as much time and emotional investment online as you can IRL, doesn’t make the experience of one of them “not real”.

  • http://twitter.com/meghan_ash Meghan Frick

    It’s pretty myopic and small-minded to say you can’t develop a real friendship online. People form bonds in many ways, and one of those is through conversation – which can absolutely happen legitimately even when it’s typed out. Friendship isn’t all about physicality or nights out laughing or whatever you’re trying to argue it is. Sometimes it’s a connection between two minds. 

    And at the end of the day, when you write every internet friendship off as the result of someone not having a “real” social life or sitting in their mom’s basement with dishes piling up in the sink, you’re doing two really grating things. First, you’re recycling and rehashing an old, tired, done-to-death stereotype. Second, you’re writing off millions of dynamic, sometimes life-changing relationships just because you can’t imagine a genuine friendship developing through technology.

    I’m having trouble explaining my frustration, but I think it comes down to this: it’s a big damn world, and so much of it is completely outside our individual experiences, yet people like you continue to assume that anything YOU haven’t experienced personally “isn’t real.” 

    • Hank

      don’t worry, it’s okay.  that frustration you’re having trouble explaining?  it’s caused by a lack of vitamin d.  you’ll be fine.

  • Meera Shah

    thanks for reminding me about my posture! 

  • http://eggophilia.blogspot.com rani

    I live in two countries in the past 4 years (about one year each). If I don’t keep my online life, I’d lose my IRL friends in both countries

  • http://twitter.com/tannnyaya Tanya Salyers

    damn you for number four.

  • L10nm3n

    Got me at number 4

  • Guest

    “whereas one’s RL persona is, which, among other things, makes the two much, much different.”What? What is this? I am drowning in a sea of commas. 

  • Jenn Jenn

    Number four def. got me there haha

  • Anton

    IRL is not better. Is just more expensive hence glamorous.

  • Anonymous

    Internet is not necessary? HOW DARE YOU.

  • Guestation


  • Eloise

    This type of article is way overdone.

  • Andrew Dowd

    I mean, yeah, I suppose a fair amount of this stuff is true–obviously it’s time to question the state of your existence at 3am in your underwear bathed in a pearly cerulean glow surrounded by food detritus.  I think for a more poignant consideration of what the hell is happening to us (the digital generation), you gotta look at the things that we normally don’t blink an eye at, like what constructing a “profile” (think about that word!) actually means for your conception of self and others.  We’ve become brands.  We feed on ‘taste’ as the fundamental separator for a system which has few tangible stratifiers.  I dunno man, shit is wack, and it doesn’t just revolve around chat culture.  Personally I think that’s one of the more normal aspects of the internet.

  • Guest

    This would only apply to people who misuse the Internet. 





  • John Dowland

    You mean to say that ordinary, in-person interaction *isn’t* largely just people feeding one another what they want to see/hear ?

  • http://twitter.com/#!/WordNerd Ethan

    This article should be required reading for everyone who uses the internet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=23443988 Dayton C Castleman

    r u old or retarded

  • Alice

    I am currently in a relationship with someone I met on the internet who lives across the continent from me. We may only see each other once every six months, but we definitely make up for it with tons of sex when we DO see each other, and we’re planning on getting married soon. I also have a ton of internet friends… and a ton of IRL friends. The internet ones are just as real as the ones I have IRL, but perhaps moreso, because they are based solely on the conversations we have rather than spending time doing activities like going to the movies or shopping, which don’t necessarily translate into “real” bonding. If you write off internet friendships as never being real or meaningful, you are missing out on quite a lot.

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