A Modest Proposal: Just Log Off

You’re simply not going to find what you’re looking for online

Rosie Spinks
Forge
Published in
5 min readMay 5, 2021

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Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

Every time I go online these days, three words rattle around in my head like a mantra. Often, they are directed towards myself, when I’m clicking on the fourth article about some stranger who has been cancelled for dubious reasons. But increasingly, I say them as a kind of incantation to the countless people I see online acting in a way that is clearly counter to their best interest: Just log off.

I can’t think of one online dust-up, cancellation, ruckus, brouhaha, Twitter screenshot apology, or controversial company statement—followed by another bizarre statement that clarifies the first one—that wouldn’t be made better by first following this simple advice: Just log off.

I realize the hypocrisy here, of me telling you to log off the internet while on the internet. But I say this with some basis. In the past six months, I’ve logged off more than I have in the ten years prior. So far this year, I’ve spent about 60 minutes total logged into Twitter — that’s far less than what I used to clock per day. Instagram is often deleted from my phone for weeks at a time and I deleted Facebook years ago. I am too old for TikTok. I find things to read via newsletters I’ve chosen to subscribe to and visiting the homepages of a couple of news sites once or twice a workday (shockingly, this still works.) It’s by no means total abstinence, but it’s a huge reduction from the time I was spending online before.

Time away from these platforms and the news cycle they fuel has been clarifying. I’m amazed by how much more expansive my brain feels, how clearly I see the limitations of online life, and how differently I react to online nastiness when my nervous system is not jacked up on the outrage, trauma, and chaos that accompanies being online all the time. That is perhaps why, when I do go online, I wonder why more people don’t do the same: Just log off.

I don’t even need to pick a particular example here, because you know exactly what I mean. You watch someone do or say something stupid, then you see the torrent of abuse and hatred that is hurled in their direction from total strangers who are probably lacking a lot of context. The person then writes a series of hasty, typo-ridden…

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Rosie Spinks
Forge

Writing about how to create a meaningful life in a chaotic world. Formerly a lifestyle and business reporter. Find me: rojospinks.com @rojospinks.