Writing new posts for this blog has been especially hectic this week… I’ve been editing my CSS, fixing errors, adding experimental features, and even shifting how I create art for my blog.
I was getting overwhelmed by the workload and wanted a more cohesive theme for each drawing, so I shifted the focus to the many different things that two hands can represent. I am still catching up, but I’m glad that such an easy change has given me renewed vigor to approach this project with!
Moving on, I’d like to talk about an article where Craig Mod describes his experiences while living off-grid for a month. He recounts how distant he has felt from his city, society, and ultimately his own attention. After coming back from his month-long trip to Virginia, the author resolved to create a few rules in order to cut back from letting his devices take up all of his time.
I can empathize with Craig, in that I have had on-and-off troubles surrounding the internet for as long as I’ve been involved with it. I got my first Instagram account at the age of 12 (don’t tell the app store) and although my hatred of non-chronological timelines has limited my overall social media usage, I find my habits surrounding Tiktok to be less than ideal.
I’m not one to rag on people who use social media; many of my hobbies take place on the internet and have brought me immeasurable amounts of joy over the years. I think only you can decide what’s a healthy amount of investment in these websites and apps, and I definitely don’t think it’s as clear cut as many journalists make it out to be.
One habit that I’ve managed to curb would have to be my past obsession with mobile games. In my teen years I couldn’t afford to buy new games and would make up for that desire by finding free ones on the app store.
I spent much of my days playing everything from HayDay to Neko Atsume, along with big time-sinkers like Clash of Clans (I truly understand, article author), Cookie Run: Ovenbreak, Bandori Party, Pokemon Shuffle (I was so enthralled I had a second account on my 3DS!), and numerous little puzzle games that were neither challenging nor that entertaining, if I’m being honest.
While these games can have some real heart and an inspiring fanbase, many of the gameplay loops are based around needing to log in every day and set up tasks that can only be finished with money or time. I decided to delete the last of these apps in 2021 and haven’t felt much of a need to redownload them since, because I am unfortunately cursed (blessed?) with a severe case of “out of sight, out of mind”.
Getting back to Tiktok, I’m sure you’ve heard that the app is especially bad for people with ADHD, since it gives us an easy source of dopamine at the cost of taking up a ridiculous amount of time. I’m truly saddened that the app basically forces you to keep scrolling, because I do enjoy watching videos from the creators I follow and sending funny videos to my friends.
I’ve been attempting to cut down on the time I spend scrolling Tiktok, but I recently realized that the issue was more complicated than I initially thought. When I get bored, I typically think about a million different things I’ve been meaning to do, get overwhelmed or find it difficult to begin, and inevitably end up opening Tiktok.
I feel as though my issues with needing to constantly do something has caused me to reach for the app as a quick distraction or solace when I’m unable to be productive. Learning this pitfall has helped me predict when I might feel the need to drown my thoughts in repetitive stimuli, so I’m better able to stop and think first.
I personally would be able to live away from technology for a few weeks before I would start to miss my online hobbies and friends. I also don’t really care if other people think themselves superior in some way for being able to “last longer”; much of my life taking place online doesn’t have anything to do with my moral character.
The Online Dishibition Effect by John Suler touches upon six different archetypes which describe the variety in which people might appear different on the internet.
I most closely resemble the phrase he calls benign disinhibition, since I behave basically the same online versus in person. In fact, I tend to be a lot more personal and outgoing on the internet, because I don’t have to worry about confusing non-verbal language, and people can start and stop interactions whenever they feel comfortable.
This ties in with the invisibility description, but I interpret it much differently as an autistic person since eye-contact and facial expressions don’t often match how I feel inside. Funnily enough, I have always made strides to not be anonymous online; I have presented my full and true self since the first day and I don’t feel the need to be especially private here.
I also appreciate the sense of asynchronicity in online messaging; I can have a fast-paced conversation over direct messages in one space, and leave a comment in another that I’m not expecting to be read let alone responded to for a while. Many of my friends come from different time zones and have varying levels of availability, so I’m very used to sending a message and forgetting about it.
I also can have trouble forming complicated ideas or sentences through speech, whereas I’m able to infinitely change and proofread my paragraphs on a platform like this. I can definitely relate to the technique of drafting up a very vulnerable message and physically getting out of my seat when I hit send so I don’t get caught up in how the other person will react.
While I obviously have a different perception of the people I know online compared to how they would appear in person, I take care to remember that they have their own rich lives and are definitely not just a part of my imagination. The only time I believe that other people aren’t real is when I’m experiencing intense paranoia, so luckily I don’t relate to this effect!
I believe that the minimizing of authority in the online sphere is largely a positive thing. I mostly experience this through being friends with a few professional artists and the rare times in which a well-known person interacts with me.
I’ll wrap up this post since It’s getting long, but I do find the exploration of online identity to be incredibly interesting and it’s something I discuss with my online friends a lot.
Mod, C. (2017, January 13). How I got my attention back. Wired. Retrieved March 20, 2023, from https://www.wired.com/2017/01/how-i-got-my-attention-back
Suler, J. (2004, August 4). The Online Disinhibition Effect. Retrieved March 20, 2023, from https://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html