Nowadays, many people don’t go an hour without checking their phone. Spending hours scrolling through social media apps like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook has become normal, and some people are now “chronically online.” But what does it mean to be constantly online, and how can you avoid the negative effects?
What does “chronically online” mean?
The term “chronically online” is an evolution of a set of terms used in the 2010s and 2020s. When social media really took off in the early 2010s, being “online” (that is, on social media) became the norm for many. In addition, it has become more common to spend a lot of time on blogs, news sites, streaming services, and other online platforms. All in all, people spend a lot of time online.
The terms “infinitely online” and “extremely online” have also been used in the past to describe those who spend a lot of time online, but the term “chronically online” takes things to another level.
There is no official dictionary definition for any of these terms, although the Urban Dictionary states that being chronically online is a description of “someone who is basically always online and whose entire existence revolves around being online”.
As you might have guessed from the description above, spending an hour or two a day scrolling through TikTok or Instagram doesn’t necessarily mean you’re online all the time. In fact, spending a lot of time online every day would lead to being online all the time.
Another description of the term in Urban Dictionary defines a person who is always online as “someone who is so engrossed in online life and online discourse that they become unfamiliar with things outside of the internet.”
When someone is truly online all the time, their online life outshines their real life, to the point where the former becomes more important than the latter. In severe cases, this can also lead to social isolation and recluse behavior.
However, there is a more ironic use of “chronically online” that people use when they generally spend too much time online. It’s a common word on social media to be online all the time, even when the person who describes themselves as having a lively social life, career, and hobbies.
Take the tweet above for example. Of course, not every single Twitter user is socially isolated and obsessed with the online space. But many have up-to-date knowledge of internet culture, such as phrases, memes, and influencer or celebrity news. So if you see someone using the term “chronically online” to describe themselves, don’t necessarily worry. This can simply mean they are spending more time online than is ideal.
This term is also commonly used to describe people who take extreme social or political views through the use of the internet.
There are many harmful views and conspiracies circulating on social media, and many of them relate to national governments. For example, some believe the 2020 US presidential election was rigged, an idea that has been heavily promoted on Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok. Believe it yourself or not, there’s no denying that many have been drawn to this idea through social media.
Some people also fall into bigoted groups, such as those that promote racism and misogyny, when they spend a lot of time online. In this sense, one can also speak of a person who is chronically online.
In short, the term “chronically online” doesn’t just mean one thing, although there are a few instances where it’s most commonly used. But how can you tell if you or someone else is online all the time? And how to stop it if this is the case?
How to recognize and stop chronic online activity
If you believe that the time you spend online has no impact on your career, social life, or health, then you probably don’t need to worry about being online all the time. Many of us spend our time on the internet as a pastime, and there’s really nothing wrong with that.
However, if you spend a lot of time on social media, news sites, streaming platforms and similar platforms, then there might be an issue that you need to address. It’s difficult to find the line between healthy and unhealthy when it comes to internet use. Some limit themselves to less than an hour a day, while others spend two or three hours a day online and still lead a healthy life.
Here are some red and yellow warning signs to look out for if you’re concerned about being online all the time:
Missing appointments and events to be online. Sitting for hours using the internet. Prioritize your online life over meals and hydration. Losing contact with friends and family to stay online. Know more about online culture than real events.
If you feel like you’re spending too much time online, there are a few things you can do, including these tips:
Use apps that block distractions on your devices. Stick to a tight schedule to avoid boredom. Limit the number of social media channels you use. Turn off notifications for non-essential apps. Make regular plans with friends and family. Discover your interests and passions outside of the internet.
If you are concerned that your child is spending too much time online, consider using parental control apps to limit screen time. Ultimately, finding a healthy balance between your online and offline life depends on what kind of life you want to lead. Some people get a lot out of their online life while others find it exhausting. So the line drawn here is very subjective.
But overall, it’s important that you make sure that your “real” life – that is, the time you spend offline – doesn’t become less important than the time you spend online. Keeping in touch with friends, spending time with relatives and pets, and keeping your body healthy are all important factors to consider in order to spend more time online.
Being constantly online can be dangerous
It’s not uncommon to enjoy spending time online, but taking it a little too far can be detrimental to your mental and physical health. So if you’re worried about being online all the time, make sure you’re aware of the warning signs and possible remedies to find a healthy balance between your offline and online life.