Living Online: Editor's Letter
Updated: Sep 18, 2020
Low Caliber Creators
“I see her online, all the time” sings Matty Healy on one of the 1975’s latest singles “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know).” In this song, he speaks of the tribulations of falling in love with a person he only knows through the Internet. The themes of the 1975’s latest albums have centered around life in the time of the Internet and the desensitization that comes with it. Before Coronavirus, it was easy to separate online life and real life. While Matty Healy vocalized a lot of truths, it was easy to ignore the reality of our dependency on the Internet when we closed our laptops and we could deem the 1975's tracks a bit melodramatic. However, these days it seems the only connections we can make with each other are via the Internet.
It is becoming harder to differentiate between who we really are and who we represent ourselves as virtually. Zoom calls, group chats and the general adaptation of our real lives into virtual ones has overcome us. It is rare that we can interact normally with our friends in person and speak to a crowded room. However, we can host a Zoom party and send a tweet to our collection of followers. Phrases we would never speak aloud are typed constantly into our phones. We overthink our emoji usage, our punctuation and our grammar when communicating with people. We think about capitalization. How can I describe myself in a bio. So much more effort is put into our online presence, while our real selves seem to be wasting away with the rising numbers of our screen time.
Of course, as the upper half of Generation Z, we have grown up closer to this lifestyle than any other generation. We spent our middle school days watching people on YouTube live their daily lives as entertainment. We binged Netflix shows on the weekends. We participated in viral challenges; we ourselves tried to go viral. We’ve become desensitized to the immense rise and fall of Internet celebrities over just a matter of days due to Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram instead of the longer rise to fame of movie and reality tv stars. But as we all know, there’s downfalls to being raised in this culture. In her essay “The I in the Internet,” Jia Tolentino examines the way online consumption has changed our generation and Millennials into image-obsessed narcissists with too much faith in our own opinions (to put it delicately). Truthfully, it only scratches the surface of the impact the Internet can have on us.
We’ve all experienced some of the negative aspects of this online lifestyle. We’ve become distanced from our friends, family, significant others, and peers. Relationships are put to the test over scheduled FaceTime calls and a lack of familiar intimacy. We develop unhealthy habits and the courage to talk negatively about people, saying things we never would face to face. There’s the struggle of connecting with our peers through online courses and the inability to help each other in the same ways as we would in person. And from all the hours spent on social media, obsessions are built and the outcome is only more anxiety and a lower self esteem.
Just like anything else, we are forced to sink or swim–adapt to online life or face the consequences. A few ways that we have seen our culture adapt over the past few months include making weekly standing meetings to interact with family or friends, spending more time in nature and taking regular breaks from the social media world, and learning to enjoy spending time with yourself. Spending time online for work, education, or to catch up with friends is one thing. Spending hours on social media and absorbing the ups and downs of cancel culture, unrealistic beauty standards, and glamorized lifestyles is another thing.
Although there are some downfalls, there’s plenty of benefits, too. We have the ability to connect with anyone, no matter what the distance may be. Because of online classes, we have control over the entire day, and we get to decide how to spend our time. We have access to more information now than ever, with an abundance of Instagram infographics and online sources. We have developed a special sense of community via online platforms with abilities to communicate and bond with people across the world. Growing up in the time of the Internet leaves little to be desired, as it often seems we have the world at our fingertips.
One of the most intimidating parts of living online is not knowing how long this is going to last. Nobody knows when, or if ever, life will go back to what we once considered normal. And chances are, when things do change, the new normal won’t be the same ‘normal’ we were used to. Some aspects of it will be positive; now we can argue, with confidence, that those long, boring work meetings/presentations can be replaced with a well-written email. But there will be lasting effects. Personal relationships may not go back to the way they were before, semesters of education hastily ‘learned’ online will be forgotten, and for many, mental health may not be the same after experiencing living purely online for months. Vulnerability, intimacy, and empathy may be harder to come by (especially for those of us who weren’t gifted in that department in the first place).
We chose this theme Living Online, because we need a platform to share our unique experiences in these unprecedented times––and we want to hear yours, too. Send us your art, essays, poems, or even just your own typed-out-ramblings with your perspective on living online, and stay tuned for our team’s content.
Lots of love,