When I first got on the internet, I joined a lot of chat rooms. Remember those? LA Live chatroom was my favorite. I got into a lot of trouble in that chatroom. After awhile, though, I came to a point where I figured out that the people in the chat room weren't real people. They might be real people on the other side of the monitors, but the people they were inside the internet chat room were not real people. The things that went on inside the chat room were not real life. The internet provides opportunities for people to be someone else. Most of them are not the same people offline that they are online.
After chat rooms came forums. I joined every forum I could find for every single subject I found interesting. The same types of things that went on in chatrooms also went on in internet forums. Faceless names, trying to make people believe they were who they said they were and that they did what they said they did. Reality was far different offline than online in that instance, as well.
I used to frequent a forum for mothers. I won't name the forum because I steer people away from that forum, now. I don't recommend anyone go there for any reason. But, I was a member there for about 2 years, possibly more. I was still hard to grasp the fact that the internet would never really be real life and that the things that happen online don't necessarily take place offline.
Like Earth Hour. I know that certain groups really want this to be a real "thing" offline. But, the sad reality is that it just isn't. No one is talking about Earth Hour offline. No one in my town even knows what Earth Hour is.......
Another example, online there is a thing called "extended rear facing" in reference to how long you should keep your children's car seats facing backward before finally spinning them around so that the child faces the front. I had never heard of it until the internet. I didn't know this was a thing. So, here I was, asking everyone I knew from real life about "extended rear facing". Each one of them responded to me with some variation of, "extended what?!". Not one person that I know face to face has ever heard of extended rear facing car seats. Everyone I know did the exact same thing I did. We spun the kid around when he was too big to face the seat anymore. Once the child is uncomfortable and his/her legs are bending against the seat, it's time to face forward.
Our kids are all alive. We drive defensively, not like douches. So, even though we know accidents happen, we haven't had any.
What I found out is that "extended rear facing" has a niche following online. But, in real life, offline, in reality, extended rear facing is only now starting to be a "thing" and not in very many places. More power to you, if you feel like your kid needs that, if you live in a big city and the dangers are such that you feel you need to keep them faced that way longer, fine. But, it's not a thing for a great portion of the U.S. and never will be. However, the negativity that other mothers were getting from some of the......"women"......on that site about the fact that they didn't live or drive in an environment that would necessitate extended rear facing and therefore didn't do it, was abysmal. It became counter productive and not very constructive. Women that were really in the market for some good advice and social connection instead got some bullying from a fringe group of internet society.
Same thing happened with baby wearing. I went to school in Southern California. Only one of the greatest hippy mechas in this country. Not one person that I know face to face wears, or wore, their babies. Great idea, if that's for you and you have the means to do it, fine. But, holy cow the abuse that came to women who didn't wear their babies.....insanity. This is not a "thing" for most of society. Baby wearers, like extended rear facers, are a fringe group of society. Or, they are a fringe group of internet society. Offline society may not even know these people exist, nor do they care. The group on that site, however, was under they impression that everyone should know.
It came to the point where being on the forum wasn't really adding anything to my life. It was really just a place for trolls and I'll go out on a limb here and bet that probably 40% of the "women" who are supposedly members of that site aren't women at all and are really men trolling other men and hoping to troll whatever women might happen to be on the site. Another 50% of the members are people who will say whatever they can to make it look like they are perfect and do all of the latest fad "things", they probably really don't do most of it, if any, offline. The last 10% are the fringe groups.
I left the site about 2 years ago. It was necessary. Internet and real life are not the same and most of the people aren't the same. They might be the same people technically, but the character they play online isn't the same as offline.
The internet kind of teaches us to self segregate. I became somewhat of a hermit when I started playing on the internet a lot. It's been work to actually unplug and disconnect from the internet and instead, reconnect to real life. Part of that is understanding that the two are actually different realities.
I left some other forums last year. One was a pagan forum and another was a forum for survivalists. I left the survival forum because they're hostile to anyone who isn't a conservative republican. I am not, I'm a left leaning libertarian. Sadly, even though I grew up in a family of survivalists and hunters, according to the internet, the lifestyle isn't for anyone who is not a conservative republican. In fact, while checking on some of the places I'd left for this post, I checked that site. There is a thread titled, "Why are there liberals on this site?!". The body of which includes, "Why would they come here other than to troll??".
The pagan forum was the exact opposite. I'll bet you're thinking I left it because of the arguments about who is and is not pagan, right? Well, you'd be wrong. I left it because of the hopeless internet liberals. According to the internet, paganism is for internet liberals. If you are anything other than an Obama fangirl/fanboy democrat, you are not pagan. If you disagree with Obamacare at all, you are not a pagan.
By the way, an internet liberal is not the same as a real life liberal. Internet liberals are only liberals on the internet and when they can troll other people with it. But, leaving those two forums became the only way to deal with the problem. It was counter productive to even stay on them. On one there was some discussion of survivalism, but more of it was just a bunch of mud slinging across party lines. On the other, there was pagan discussion in between political mud throwing. The discussion revolved around new age-y practices though and I'm not into any of that besides meditation.
So, today, I'm finding that I again need to disconnect from online life. Not totally, but I need to get out of some environments that aren't adding to my lifestyle or life in any way and are instead either distracting me from it, or affecting it negatively. I read Reddit, so I went through my subs and got out of a bunch of subs that were just not going to add anything constructive. I deleted accounts to several separate forums and deleted bookmarks to those and some others that were nothing but a bunch of drama or devolving into a bunch of drama. I deleted Twitter and signed up under another name to only follow breaking news.
The bottom line is that it's easy to get too wrapped up in internet life. It takes away from my offline life and it's around this time of year that I take a look at what I'm doing online and start decluttering. So that I can reconnect to real life. I consider this work just as important as the work I'm doing offline to get my house ready to be closed up for the winter.
Autumn cleaning and decluttering. Add the internet to your list, today!