Is Our Online Obsession Making Us More Detached and Lonely Than Ever?


I’ve been tempted before to do one of those “here’s what an average week looks like for me!” kind of posts. But then I realised that it would be a pretty short post as it goes along the lines of: get up, do some personal admin, post to Instagram, go to the gym, come home, breakfast, work, lunch, have meetings, home, dinner, watch Netflix/ TV catch up/ or see boyfriend. Throw in the daily social media checks and staying on top of admin and emails all day, and occasionally filming for YouTube or having a photoshoot, then repeat this 5-7 times and you’ve pretty much got my week covered.

I’m not sure if I’m just awful at time management (it’s only been a few months of blogging full time so I’ve still got things to get used to) or if I am legit just really busy, but it feels like time is more precious than ever. When I see photos of my friend’s new glittering engagement rings, statuses of new job offers, photos of reunions, I thank the techie lords for creating things like social media, that not only gives me my job, effectively, but that help me keep in touch and up to date with what my friends all over the country – or world – are up to. Scrolling through your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds in the morning is the social equivalent of scrolling through headlines on your BBC News app or reading the Metro on the tube, (although news and social are two very intertwined pillars now.) And I am beyond thankful for Whatsapp groups. They are a beautiful invention of modern day society that mean we can live-discuss TV shows as we watch them, get all-round opinions on topics, co-write and co-edit one another’s responses to fuckboys/ new fancy men, and plan to meet up a lot easier.

Are they?

Is it actually all that good? I can’t help thinking, sometimes, of what I’d be doing if I wasn’t Netflixing by evening, catching up with guilty pleasure reality TV, reading my favourite blogs on the internet, scrolling on Pinterest for interiors inspo that I will never even be able to recreate in my shitty rented room in a London house share, checking up on Facebook, seeing who’s done what on Snapchat, all whilst Whatsapping my friends. My balance between real life socialising and faux socialising is far more skewed than I’d like to admit, and I may have written in the joy of missing out before, but there seems a fucked up irony that we’re choosing to miss out on actually seeing our friends whilst staying in and checking what they’re up to on social instead.

Instead of going out and making memories with my friends, I’m looking on Timehop and screenshotting past memories, posting it in our group chat with an “omg I can’t believe this was 3 years ago!” to be met by a chorus of “ahhh haha that was so much fun!” and requests of “let’s please relive this again sometime soon?” which will, of course, never be met because we’re too busy doing the above on repeat to actually solidify plans.

But plan making IS hard. I’m not going to say that we’re all 100% guilty of being antisocial cretins that would rather tag our friends in memes than actually socialise, because it’s not as simple as that. It’s a topic. All of us have lives beyond our friendship groups. Boyfriends, other friends, work friends, gym classes, hobbies and commitments.

Like myself, most of my friends live in London, and when reports surfaced last month that Londoners put in more overtime at work than anywhere else in the UK, I was like duh, can you not already tell that by the bags under our eyes and the vampiric complexions? Factoring in all of that for each single person, to try finalise dates and plans to all meet up can be tough! In the past, my friends have resorted to using Survey Monkey – y’know, the online questionnaire thing you used for your dissertation – to pick a date which we’re all free on to meet up. We’re all juggling busy schedules, so in light of that, going home after work, zoning out to the TV and relaxing whilst we texts our friends is, of course, the easier option.

The best routes in life aren’t always the easiest, though, and I’ve noticed myself feeling more and more detached from reality the more time I spend on social. The more I see online of what everyone else does, the more isolated I feel. I’ll keep up to date with what my friends do on social media, but I don’t take the time to ask them what they’ve been up to. In a way, it kind of feels stupid, sometimes. “What’s new with you!?” I’ll ask, after already liking their holiday photos and girls night out pics on Facebook, and they know I’ve witnessed a play-by-play of their day in their Instagram story. But truth is, social media makes me lazy. Why spend precious time messaging or calling when you already know what they have to say? But as always, we’ve got to remember that what we see on social media isn’t the full picture. Your friend may be going through things they don’t necessarily share, and that they wouldn’t without a message asking how they’ve been, first.

So what am I doing about this? And what can you do if you’re feeling it too?

1. First off, I’m being more mindful of the frequency of phone use. My job as a blogger is so firmly rooted in social media that I’m constantly needing to be on my phone, so it can be a tough one to crack. Last week, the most times I picked up my phone in one day was 175 (I used the app Realizd to get this stat!) It’s not even using it per se – it’s just this awful habit of picking it up and just checking, well, nothing, really.

Being mindful of usage goes for the timing of it all, as well. I have an awful habit of getting up in the morning, spending 20 minutes checking my phone and just doing crap like that in bed. So I’m making sure my feet are on the ground as soon as the alarm goes off in the morning. I can check the phone when I’m at my desk, in work mode, to try and create a separation.

Another awful habit is my attention span. I can’t concentrate on a TV show because I’ll be constantly checking my phone. So no phones during TV time either! If I am going to stay inside and watch Netflix, I should at least give it my full attention.

2. Make more plans with friends, and follow through with them.
I’m making more effort to actually make plans with friends, by saying let’s get together for dinner, and making it easy by choosing places local to us. Even if it’s just for an hour or so, I’ll always go home feeling so much better for it. It seems so silly, doesn’t it? Just see your friends!

3. Seeing friends individually 
I want to see all of my friends in one go because I love the atmosphere we have when we are together, but realistically it’s really not feasible all of the time. So I’m happily settling with seeing everyone individually, and big meet-ups when I can.

4. Use my phone less for social media, and more for being social
Instead of seeing announcements on social and liking/commenting, I’m going to take the time to message people first, privately to say congrats or ask to know more. It’s a way of eliminating the laziness.

Photography by Rebecca Spencer

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Omg I have so many things to say. Such a thought-provoking post! First of all I think this dovetails really closely with your post about the fetishisation of busy-ness. Like, I've had to have a chat with myself and my girlfriends before along the lines of 'look, none of us have kids, none of us work night shifts, we need to be a bit more honest with ourselves about how busy we ACTUALLY are'. It really shouldn't take 3 months to set up one dinner. I also think stuff like whatsapp groups make people more prone to cancel on things last minute. If you had to call someone and actually talk to them to flake out on them you'd probably feel more bad about it you know?

    Anyway I hope as the technology gets older we can all learn a bit more etiquette around it and get better and living in the real world more – brilliant post!
    Maddie xxx
    Whiskey Tango Flat White | A lifestyle blog with issues

  2. I really loved this blog post! Definitely going to follow you and read from now on. You've completely tapped it to something I struggle with, loving social media but worrying that I'm actually letting amazing moments with family and friends pass me by. Sometimes you wonder if relationships were better before we had all this stuff?
    Sadie xx

  3. Came for the gorgeous dress, stayed for yr chat: I must have read four posts in a row there and have a tonne more bookmarked for when I finish work…

    I'm working on the plan-making thing. You mentioned in one of the linked posts about people commenting on Timehop shares "oh, let's do that again" or "oh, we need to catch up!". I'm trying to make it so that when somebody says that, we get a plan in the diary then and there. It doesn't always happen, but it's something to aim for.

    Lis / last year's girl x

  4. Read this and thought, 'that's just what I think', but I couldn't have written it so well! I think I'll be spending a lot of time on this blog.. H x

  5. Another great post Sophie – I feel like you say everything I'm thinking but just waaaay better than I could have done it. I'm awful with my phone and even though I love a good scroll on insta I do worry that I'm letting it ruin important time with friends, family, and my long-neglected boyfriend…

    The point about seeing people individually is something I really need to start doing I think, my friendship group can only seem to find a suitable date to meet once every few months (parents, people who live in different parts of the country, shift workers, teachers) etc so we would all get much more friend time if we got together in pairs or small groups in between!

    Sophie xxx | Sophar So Good

  6. I couldn't have related more to this right now! I'm so detached from everything other than work at the moment! I feel so out of synch with friends and everything!

    However I totally agree about seeing friends one on one, that's one thing I always try to do, because it means better catch ups and more quality time! xxx