It’s time to put our extremely online year (and ourselves) behind us.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone who’s ever been on the internet that – during a pandemic, under multiple lockdowns – our worst online trends, in the immortal words of “Spinal Tap,” went to 11. It was 11. as everyone went slightly Jack Torrance from “The Shining”.
That’s okay: an invisible, potentially deadly virus was floating outside, politicized as it killed and spread without being mitigated. It basically has been a novel by Stephen King (adapted by Stanley Kubrick). We rushed online, trying to lessen the impact of our solitary confinement by finding other people to be with. We were trying to save ourselves.
There were some good things to be learned from all this time online. But there were some extremely bad things too: It started with blank shots of how Shakespeare wrote “King Lear” in quarantine. Before people could finish reading them, we were inundated with magma temperature lines that no one should feel the need to be productive in quarantine. Everyone had someone to hate, someone to cancel, someone to hire, a way to practice self-love, and someone who hurt it.
And so, I’m making a proclamation here for all to read: It’s time to put our extremely online year (and ourselves) behind us. It’s time to brand the Internet.
At least for the next year or two, let’s have some standards, some sort of unified code of etiquette that keeps us (and our conversations, and our passions) connected to a world that isn’t so extremely online.
For example: if the person consuming your brain space has some sort of nickname that involves some insanely silly online-only drama (“Bean Dad”, “Bodega Lady”, “Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shrimp Tails Guy”), or their main mode? attention seeking is done through a self-created melodrama (anyone whose name is collected under the search parameter “influencer advocacy”), so don’t get them into a decent conversation. Maybe we can reduce their impact.
If someone brings up someone who has been “canceled” and their cancellation takes more than a sentence to explain, without any follow-up questions, they and their inquisitors are already taking up too much space in your conversation. And life.
If you need to reach for your phone to demonstrate in order to continue a conversation, don’t.
If you’re crazy about something that’s played out almost entirely on social media platforms – someone tweeted or TikTok’d or Instagram Storied something ignorant – case slamming back and walking around the block.
No more laptops in cafes or good bars. Ruin SoHo House or WeWork with them, but nowhere more public than that.
Yes, the Internet is part of our daily life, inextricably linked to most of our current activities. But when it’s not entirely needed, the internet should be known as the place where work and procrastination takes place, and that’s it.
After a year at home, we will have freedoms that we haven’t had for a year.
We will look into new eyes, sit in public spaces; go to concerts; sweat on top of each other in gyms. And we will do all of this without fear, hesitation, strangeness or reluctance. We will have prolonged silences with each other.
If you’ve taken out your phone for any of these situations, or if you’re talking about things that happen exclusively on your phone, let’s agree: you are wrong. Are you having dinner with other people to check your MDs? Do not do that. This concert doesn’t really need to be filmed, does it? Don’t want to get lost in the rapture of being alive, dancing to a frantic pace?
We can, now! Unplug! Deploy! Switch off, disconnect and enter: the world of proximity is soon available again. Don’t let the Internet get you away.
Foster Kamer is a New York-based writer and editor, currently Director of Content for Futurism. He also writes a newsletter called FOSTERTALK.