How to build positive internet habits
The internet is a modern marvel – that much is beyond dispute. If you could go back through time and tell someone in 1970 about the interconnectivity of the world in 2020, it’s hard to fathom how they’d comprehend such advancement. If the human race endures for millennia to come, there will be great value in separating life before the internet and life after it.
It’s similarly clear that the online world has proven a massive benefit during the challenges of this wearisome year. Without the ability to freely talk and do business through computers and smartphones, people would have struggled so much more from the lockdown limitations. But every advancement in human history has introduced problems, and the internet is no exception.
People were already addicted to their social media feeds before the events of early 2020, and now things are even more concerning. Remote working makes it easier for us to make bad decisions about how we spend our time. The inability to socialise conventionally drives us to the internet, which can lead to comparison and make us feel bad about ourselves.
The internet itself isn’t the problem. It’s how we use it that brings such frustration. What we must do now is work to build positive internet habits, putting in the time and effort to bolster our motivation despite the social isolation. Here are some tips for doing just that:
Get help with controlling your vices
If you’ve turned to questionable habits this year, you’re definitely not alone. Many of those left in a rut by the COVID-19 pandemic have scrambled to find ways to cope. Some have seen their health-promoting habits fall apart, others have leaned on the e-commerce world or even online gambling.
Now, to be clear, these habits aren’t inherently damaging if they’re handled responsibly. For example, if you want to play poker at some online casinos, you can do so in a safe and responsible way that doesn’t put your savings at risk. It’s just risky for most people because they don’t take precautions.
Thankfully, the internet offers plenty of ways in which you can get help with self-control. You can find health and nutrition tips on sites like Healthline or Nutritionist Resource. And if you want to get into poker, there are advisory sites like Online Casinos that offer everything from casino reviews to guides on how to gamble safely and affordably. However you feel about your vices, remember that you can do something to address them, and there’s help out there if you’re willing to reach for it.
Place social media into proper context
We use social media so much that it can feel oppressive and omnipresent, particularly since it so often brings out the worst in people. Anonymity, story filters and relative freedom from consequences combine to create tribal echo chambers that only reinforce and embolden what you already think — they never challenge.
This is such a threat because it’s fun at first. You feel at home around people who share your beliefs and care about the same things you do. But the more time you put into reinforcing material that backs your existing stances, the more you’ll see, and the less often you’ll be exposed to any arguments or opinions that might cause you to reconsider.
Soon enough, this leaves you feeling angry and anxious. You know that other opinions exist, but you’ve lost the willingness to try to figure out why, and you settle on the conclusion that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is a bad person and a fool. This leads to petty online squabbles that can cause immense frustration and dissatisfaction.
The solution to this is to place social media into context. Not everyone uses social media, and it’s highly likely that only a small percentage of those users are responsible for most of the posts (with an even-smaller percentage accounting for the most incendiary content). Remember that it doesn’t really reflect everyday reality, and regular life isn’t so polarised. If you met the people you argue with online in person, you might well be quite friendly with them – so pull back from the internet debates, take a deep breath, and get out of your bubble.
Spend a good amount of time offline
One of the most positive internet habits you can master is spending less time using it. You can always have too much of a good thing, and the internet is more of a neutral thing when it comes to how it makes people feel (social media is a big part of this). You might not be able to do much in the wider world, particularly if you can’t even leave your area (lockdowns are far from over for many people), but you can still be active.
You can take more walks, for instance. Walking is hugely beneficial for general motivation. It makes you fitter, settles your mind, and grants you perspective. You can read more books, whether through physical books or e-readers (the latter being very useful when you’re trying to avoid other people for sensible reasons). You can sit and listen to music.
You can even call your friends. Admittedly, it isn’t technically spending time offline if you use a VoIP solution like FaceTime or Skype, but it allows you to get away from the worst elements of the online world and focus on person-to-person interaction (even if only virtual). Why not give someone a call and take a walk as you talk to them? Mobile data is fairly cheap these days, and having something that approximates taking a walk with a friend is far better than nothing.
It isn’t easy to use the internet in healthy ways, particularly now that so many of us feel stuck at home, but it’s possible if you take sensible actions. By concentrating on these three core tips, you can significantly improve the quality of your internet use and lift your spirits across the board.