Last night, I was reading someone else’s blog and a statement was made about living life online too much (I’m paraphrasing, but the mention is important), rather than experiencing relationships in real life. And it hit me that I might be someone that lacks “real” relationships, because the overwhelming majority of my friendships are online. In fact, I haven’t done anything – lunch, telephone call, anything – with a real friend in a long, long, long time. As I write this post, I sit back in my chair, cross my legs for the moment and try to think about the last time I’ve had a conversation with someone I am not related to or online and I am sad to say, I can’t really remember. I do almost all of my communication with some sort of digital device too.
And, the more I think about it, the anxiety being created in my mind is starting to manifest on a physiological level too – I’m starting to breath hard. There is something scary to me about real life, I think. I used to be so engaged, so energetic, so much fun to be around, but I have become a hermit – practically a shut-in. I have always been a likeable person, so I don’t understand why I don’t just go make friends with people. I try to think of all the reasons why I became detached, but I think the reality of it all is that I tend to escape from the things I struggle handling.
Take the bout of alcohol fueled escapism I participated. I would drink to solely numb my mind, to ease any emotional pain I felt. I wanted to hide from the world, my job, my family, life. I found so much escape in drinking, I found so much self-medicating the emotional sicknesses I had. There was an answer to everything, if I could just have another drink. Eventually, I found that there was no end…the pain, emotions, everything still existed. I was only destroying myself.
The detachment from real life is obvious in my online life, as well. I can create whatever I want in virtual reality. Stephanie is real, my sexuality is real, my love of life is real, my ability to form friendships is real, the connections I have with people online are real. Or are they? Have I just found another way to exist without existing? I can say, I’ve found ways to do my job, without giving up any online activity. I’ve found ways to be online to avoid doing things that are important. I’ve replaced things I love, because I felt I needed to be online and “express myself”. But for what? What benefit? The benefit in my mind?
I remember being at an AA meeting and hearing a guy say, “When I drink, my values changed…” And sometimes I wonder if the internet has been an addiction of mine. I ponder what values and morals mean, in the scheme of life. I can easily recite parts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to you about some topics and the moral obligations we are supposed to have as human beings – things I don’t ascribe to anymore. But have I allowed myself to be changed and influenced by the things I see online?
Values and morals? The topic is one all on its own and can’t be covered in one blog post, that’s for sure. To some there are Moral Absolutes; to others, there is Moral Relativity. What are mine? I used to adopt the ones of my upbringing, I used to believe in those as solid as my core – sometimes to spite some of the other feelings I had about life and people – or was I simply trying to convince myself? I’ve read some blogs lately that have me pondering my very existence, as well, and sometimes I think my morals and values have changed and need to be sent back to what they were before. But have I gone to far?
What I know, is that I contemplate things a lot (As if none of you knew that), and I want nothing more than to feel the happiness I felt before. That happiness of knowing I’m on the right path in life, that feeling that people like me (I know many of you DO like me, but I’m referring to the feeling and not the knowledge), that idea that the things I do matters to someone – anyone; these things seem to escape me now and I wonder, at times if I have simply become too detached. Am I online way too much? Is this my alcohol?
Online is different than real life. I have said things, done things, shown things, shared things, discussed things that would have never been done in real life. I have become different online than I have in real life. I lose my inhibitions online that I maintain in real life. This always leaves me pondering if any of this is worth it. Am I playing with my own mind and happiness? And there have been times when I could not keep the mind I have online different than the mind I have in real life, but were they ever separate to begin with?
I have had these feelings and thoughts before and they typically come with me shutting down my existence online. I go away. I’ve done it before. I disconnect. I then feel ashamed, I run back to Church, I see a priest and confess everything I feel is a sin and a sinful way to live. I’m welcomed back and people I know in real life – knowing nothing about me online – accepted me fully because they know nothing about the way I am. There are times, when I feel that the best I’ve ever felt were the times I participated in real life. But those were also times, that I never felt the way I do now. Those were times, washed away in the past, but it’s the only comparison I have to what happy feels like.
Now, as I’m writing this, my mind is starting to fire off like rockets. The thoughts are going every direction again, and it is becoming difficult to think again. And I need to begin to concentrate, but I don’t know why?
Maybe it’s time for me to go and figure out my life…