Everybody has a different opinion on how the internet factors into wellbeing.
Let’s start with the pros. You could learn practically anything online these days, no matter how niche your lockdown-inspired hobby is. The wonderful World Wide Web is a gateway to endless resources for information and self-care, e.g. you could learn more about gender and sexuality to support yourself, a friend, or a family member. For marginalised communities, the internet is often a much-needed place of diversity, representation, and shared experience. And let us not forget how necessary a digital mode of connection is during a global pandemic, when we’re often unable to physically spend time with those we love.
But of course, as the generations who have grown up saturated with internet, there are certainly some cons to counter. Oh boy, did social media do a number on us as teenagers. Spending the formative years of adolescence comparing ourselves to other people’s carefully curated highlights reels? Sure, that’s healthy. Living through an apocalyptic-seeming climate crisis and getting constant updates on the terrible state of the earth when we don’t have the power (yet) to enact real change to make it better? Not at all anxiety inducing. Then there’s the fact that the world tends to suck sometimes. In 2022, we’ve gotten a front row seat to some of the most gut wrenching social and political injustices in the world via Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Youtube. And no matter how involved we get in activism, there’s only so much we as students can do at this stage of our lives. It’s easy to forget with the constant barrage of “look at all of these horrible things you should care about.” The internet has provided a great avenue for young people to become involved in activism, but activist burnout is an enormous consequence of it.
The answer for how to walk the line between the internet being a resource for wellbeing and a detriment to wellbeing is different for everybody. Manawa Ora—Student Wellbeing has Wellbeing Workshops running all trimester to help students navigate all areas of life that cause stress or unease. If you’re suffering from the exhaustion of internet oversaturation, look into our Recharge and Relax Workshops running in week four. Our Connect Workshops and Assertive Workshops will also be running for students who may be struggling with making new friends at university, or standing up for themselves. You can register for workshops via Careerhub up to three hours before they begin.
Being at university right now isn’t easy. The past week had us watching a literal war unfold in Europe, while right in our own city, our parliament grounds were up in flames. The big, intense events you should care about don’t feel so far away from us anymore, and it’s hard to pull yourself away from doomscrolling through every heart-sinking news update. Make sure your relationship with the internet takes into consideration your own wellbeing. There are friends to make, online or in person, new things to learn, ways to connect with people all around the world, and an archive of photos and history and discovery. Maybe give yourself an hour or two entirely offline every day to look for the good around you. Everything else will still be floating around online for you to read about when you’re ready.