Many people use the internet to watch videos, look at memes and shop but most of all: to connect with others.  We see small glimpses into thousands of people’s lives every day and at some point, it may have occurred to you that these people you are scrolling past all have a life just as you do, and that we are all complex beings with our own thoughts and feelings. You may start to experience a feeling called sonder, the realization that anyone you come across is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. It was first coined by John Koenig in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.
Using the internet we can explore this feeling. It helps us widen our own understanding of life itself and learn new ways of doing things, connecting with people from other countries we can experience their cultures first hand by talking to them; and learning about others that are different from ourselves we can challenge our own views on the world, which helps us to grow as people and to care better for others. We can adopt practices into our own lives that make us feel more connected outside of social media, we can learn so much about a whole country and never visit it. This is the beauty of the World Wide Web that connects us all.

With the world quite literally in our hands, we can connect faster and quicker with people who are just like us, by finding groups that are interested in the same shows as us; have the same hobbies or are just as curious about life as ourselves. We can also learn more about our differences and how to support and celebrate them, this is a huge part of social media but it can also be dangerous if we aren’t compassionate.

Gate-keeping and hive-mindedness to name a few are things that can happen when we become too engrossed with an online subject or media, and this had led to a new term being created called “chronically online” which is used to describe ‘those who spend so much time online it skews their sense of reality and hinders their ability to effectively communicate about topics like politics or social justice because they lack real-world experience’. This is why it’s important to take what we learn from the internet and put it into practice in our real lives, it is also incredibly important to log off social media for a while and go outside and connect with those around us. The internet is only a tool and not life itself, we must take what we can from it and put it into practice in our own lives, separate from our digital spaces.

The internet and social media allow us to be more connected than ever but it has also caused us to become disconnected from our own lives. We begin to care more about our online space than being active in real life. We post support for a country but do nothing to help. We spread awareness for issues we only just learnt about after we saw a friend post about it. It all becomes very a superficial act to seem like the perfect upstanding citizen. We are constantly afraid of judgment and this is where we need to step back and look at how we are using our digital space, take a second and ask yourself this question: Are you using social media to connect with others or are you using others to connect with social media?

Making friends on the internet is easy but keeping them alive and real is the hard part. Superficial relationships begin when we use others to connect with social media; for example bragging about all your friends you have across the world despite not actually knowing them, or flaunting your 300+ day snapchat streaks with people you have never properly spoken to. When we use social media to connect with others the opposite happens: we gain a true friends, real experiences and we start to truly see the world as a whole.

Hello, I'm Megan Dowthwaite, a graphic designer and content creator. I'm fascinated by the world and its various cultures main ones being Korea, the Philippines and other Asian countries, I specifically focus on fashion, art, history and the ecosystem. I love to learn and share my new found knowledge with others.


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