Log off and look up–there’s a real world out there | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022


LONDON—I don’t want to keep up. I celebrate the phenomenal advances and the good that technology and the digital industries have given humankind. But I feel like a digital party-pooper, the world rapidly leaving me behind.


Stephen’s was too short, but very brave, a life. In 2010, age 15, he was diagnosed with bowel cancer; in 2012, his doctors said it was incurable. “That’s when I stopped measuring life in terms of time and started measuring it in terms of what I could do,” he told The Daily Mail.


In his blogs, he cited 46 items on his bucket list, including getting a tattoo and raising £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust charity. On May 2, feeling slightly better, he was discharged from hospital, whereupon he was attacked by Internet trolls who accused him of duping them about his condition and demanded their money back.


Stephen posted, “There’s always going to be hate and skepticism out there. Sorry to disappoint you, but so you know, I still have cancer and it’s still incurable, if that makes you less duped.”



On May 11 Stephen was readmitted to hospital, where he died three days later, age 19.


Stephen’s campaign to help young people with cancer has raised over £4 million. His trolls should hang themselves in shame.


On the Internet, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger raved about a world where women lived in abject fear of men, plotting online his “day of retribution” and targeting “cruel and heartless creatures (girls) that took pleasure from my suffering.” On YouTube, he vowed “I will slaughter you like animals.”


On his day of rampage in Isla Vista, California, he shot and killed six students before killing himself.


Nurse Dale Bolinger, a professed cannibal, boasted on Dark Fetish Network forum that he had eaten a 39-year-old woman and a five-year-old child, and was preparing to eat a 14-year-old girl he met on the Internet. Police caught him, and now his goose is cooked.




This is the way we live now— for better or worse. The late great Steve Jobs said that Apple is “technology married with liberal arts and the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.” That has also given rise to a latter-day crime: Apple-picking, with victims being mugged or killed for their iPods, iPhones, iPads.


A recent University of Chicago study revealed that social media can be more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol.


Medical experts estimate that by the time children born today turn seven, they will have spent an entire year watching some form of small screen.


Children’s widespread exposure to aggressively explicit pornography online has increased the incidence of sexual assaults and rapes. Online images of children and teenagers being sexually abused are fodder for pedophiles the world over.


More than 500 million tweets are tweeted every day (200 billion tweets a year). What they all find to say is a complete mystery.


“We are at the most narcissistic age ever,” said psychologist David Lewis. “Twitter suggests a level of insecurity whereby unless people recognize you, you cease to exist. It may stave off insecurity in the short term, but it won’t cure it.”


It’s willingly and indiscreetly selling idealized and vainglorious versions of one’s self online as if one were starring in a movie or reality TV. The thing is, there’s someone out there who will always be better-looking, thinner, richer than you.


Perfect platform


“Online, you can graphically alter your image and lifestyle, so it lends itself to creating a more perfect platform that’s even further away from who we actually are in all our flaws,” said psychotherapist Sheri Jacobson. Recent studies have shown that spending inordinate time on Facebook and other social media, updating status and picture-sharing on Instagram have been linked to fueling negative body image, to feelings of envy, insecurity, tremendous discontent and depression.


So while social media inveterates and addicts aren’t dying from SARS or cholera, they’re certifiably dying from Instagram and Facebook envy. How ironic that social media can bring on loneliness and isolation.


Thanks to smartphones and tablets, we are constantly, if not permanently, hyperconnected, a condition that gave rise to the fear of missing out (Fomo), a recognized anxiety disorder driven by social media. Somewhere, an achingly trendy event is happening without you.


Isn’t it disturbing that people, conducting their relationships and transactions largely across a range of screens are dumbing down, losing their voice and power of speech, the ability to communicate in the real world and understand the nuances of language?


Apart from not knowing who’s watching/stalking/surveying us and our data-driven lives, do we really want these things to haunt us, our families, new relationships, employers five or 20 years hence?


People have lost jobs, partners, spouses and friends for a lot less. Alexander An, a civil servant in Indonesia, declared himself an atheist on a chat room for nonbelievers; a mob denounced him as a heretic, the police took him and locked him up in jail for two years.


Before we totally lose our privacy, or the private parts of ourselves, let’s remember that the truly sophisticated and charming leave a lot of themselves and their interior lives in reserve.


They are digitally detoxing, going on retreats leaving all their gadgets behind, writing old-fashioned letters, and hiring “online cleaners” to clean up their digital footprints and reputation.


Roger Daltrey of The Who once said, “I feel about as useful as a pork chop in a synagogue with all this Internet bollocks. I hope you enjoy it, but do me a favor. Leave the screen turned off sometimes. Go out. Get a life.”


Every now and then, do the cold turkey thing, log off and unplug. Reacquaint yourself with the offline world—where you can look real people in the eye and talk to them in real time, touch their hand, feel the wind in your face.


Protect vehemently your personal data, treasure fiercely your memories and choose well those with whom to share your confidences, secrets, hopes and dreams.


Run free, run wild and fear not for there is a world elsewhere: the real one.



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