Age of Regression


Ayden Terry, Reporter

The internet has been one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind… So why does it feel like we’ve begun to regress instead? The internet is an extremely useful tool in communication, so logically it should then lead to greater unity and understanding, but this is not the case. We have created echo chambers of extreme ideas and a heightened version of groupthink. 

A term that has semi-recently come into play for this is Chronically Online. A simple definition for this might be someone who has no social life outside of the internet and has begun to forget what real interactions are supposed to be like. But really there’s a deeper layer to this term, and that’s due to the fact that it’s creating a toxic environment for the validity of actual movements such as mental health, gender identity, conversations on race, misogyny, and sexuality. 

Chronically online instances happen the most on places like TikTok, Reddit, and Twitter where an algorithm makes up the majority of the appeal of the platform. So when people are looking at their feed, they aren’t seeing anything that challenges the way they think. This is harmful for the human brain because it takes one idea and radically changes it until it’s an extreme version of the original. Say someone has slight misogynistic ideas and they like a video poking fun at women. Soon enough, their feed will be filled with videos with incredibly harmful opinions against women and that person may begin to radicalize themselves. 

This can also take form in the spread of misinformation or incorrect applications of appropriate behavior. There have been many examples of this where someone will be called ableist for using elevators, for saying something stupid, or even saying they “don’t care if someone will get the joke” because “people with autism don’t get jokes”. This may not be intended to be harmful, but it is. Dismantling real systematic issues like ableism is incredibly important, but when someone scolds another person for something that isn’t actually a problem, it detracts from the credibility of correcting others. 

Wen it comes to the actual movements, it’s vital that people work as a team and there is an environment of self reflection, accountability, and respect. But chronically online individuals take this away. When people are constantly trying to correct others (and are often wrong themselves) they create a division within communities. There are enough people opposing important issues so there is no room for in-fighting. Often enough, people who are making assumptions about different causes and end up being wrong, aren’t actually listening to the people are are affected by the issue. There are so many voices saying so many different things that when it comes to finding correct information, the best sources are those who are directly impacted by it. There are a lot of instances of cisgender people correcting transgender people over things like pronouns or gender expression. Neither of these things are something that can or should be corrected.

Other examples to look out for are using words meant for one thing and using it for the wrong purpose. Like saying you have “species dysphoria” and wishing to be an animal. (That’s a real thing I saw.) Gender Dysphoria is an incredibly difficult experience to have and by using it the wrong way, it invalidates those that actually experience it. Another thing I saw was someone commenting on a child’s post about having a crush on a child-aged cartoon character and calling them a pedophile. On a less extreme note, one example was of a vegan telling someone that using tofu as a non vegetarian or vegan was cultural appropriation.

In the end, we really just need to take a step back as a culture and focus on redefining how we have important conversations. And I’ll end this as most conversations about Chronically Online individuals do: go touch some grass!