The internet as reverse beer goggles

Beer goggles are where something sucks when you’re sober, but if you’re drunk it seems amazing. The internet is the opposite: you look at your life and feel really happy with it, even proud of it, but then you look at snippets of other people’s lives online and all of a sudden your own life seems dull, like you’re not living up to your potential, or missing out on a great thing everyone else has, or worse.

The problem is obvious but it still exists and is in fact widespread, which means the solution isn’t obvious, at least not to many people.

Personally, I see two possible solutions: the first one involves not visiting certain parts of the internet, and second one involves still visiting them but constructing narratives and other concepts around them to give them context and de-barb them of their reverse-beer-goggle effects. The second solution is a lot of work and has to be maintained, and those narratives/concepts aren’t guaranteed or foolproof, so it’s usually simpler and safer just to use the first solution.

But of course simply not visiting certain parts of the internet might have costs, most likely to include not being “in the loop”. How important being “in the loop” is probably varies from person to person, but I suspect for a lot of people it is fairly central to their mental health.

So the problem is obvious, the solution isn’t, and the whole thing is very tricky.

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One thought on “The internet as reverse beer goggles

  1. I love my family. I love my friends. I love feeling a connectedness to them. The online experience, via social media, is a large part of my joy. I also enjoy my own life and feel very lucky to draw deep satisfaction and fulfillment from most aspects of my life, which I conduct away from social media or the public sphere. I live in my own real time, in private. I relish all these aspects of my life, and they form around one another like yin and yang.

    I do not experience the conundrum that you describe in your interesting essay. I wonder what I could be missing.

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