No matter what side of the aisle you sit on, you’re likely familiar with online trolls – those faceless profiles who live to create chaos on the internet, inflicting ‘online bullying’ for causes they believe to be righteous. “Chronically Online” is a new brand of internet trolls, defined colloquially as those who tend to over-intellectualize things, to use “internet buzzwords” in contexts that don’t make sense outside of the computer screen, and even sometimes take ‘woke’ too far.

This might be something you relate to, but didn’t have the right term for. It’s the opposite end of counter culture – inclusivity culture that just goes too far. When researching what the kids are calling it these days, it’s best to take to Urban Dictionary. Here’s what we found: 

“Someone who is so absorbed into online life and discourse that they become unfamiliar with things off the internet. They may also form opinions/arguments that have no meaning or actual importance/depth outside of the internet and online spaces.”

“A term used for a sensitive individual who has become so engulfed in both cancel culture and the internet that they become completely out of touch with real life.”

That’s not to say there aren’t activists and crusaders doing important work on social media. Our ability to reach people far and wide can be a beautiful thing – hosting new discourse we didn’t know was possible even just a decade ago. But in a post-pandemic landscape, we’re all recalibrating our online etiquette, breaking out of our COVID-shells and our quarantine introversion. But for “chronically online” people in particular, there seems to be a lag in recalibrating the types of conversations and topics that are actually worth fighting over. 

In honor of getting back to the days where we could meet in the middle, agreeing when things go a little too far, here are a few highlights of examples we’d deem to be chronically online:

  • People who change the spelling and pronunciation of folks to “Folx” to be more gender-neutral. Love and appreciate the effort at inclusivity here, but isn’t “folks” already gender neutral?
  • The person who, in a since-deleted Tweet, said “Why is it so normalized to stop drinking when pregnant? Isn’t not wanting your baby to have disabilities kinda ableist?”

Rebecca Jennings put it best for Vox: “What all of these arguments have in common is that very few people engage in them in real life. Sure, you might be privately annoyed at your friend who’s always talking about how great their life is when they drone on about their perfect mornings, and you might rightfully point out when an author has an unsavory past, but it’s unlikely that the subject coming up in conversation would lead to mass ridicule. But online, it’s almost a given.”

The popular response to those who appear too sensitive online? As the kids these days say, “you need to go outside and touch grass.” While bullying is hardly justifiable, and internet arguments are rarely productive, we can all agree that sometimes discourse just goes off the rails. 
If you’re working to recalibrate your social interaction back to normal after spending the entire pandemic doom-scrolling, you’re not alone. Check out these tips for navigating social anxiety in these uncharted waters (the post-post of ‘unprecedented times). Another great tip: only follow and engage with people online who align with your happiness. There’s already enough sad news out there – consider curating your time online to be less “chronic” and more “calm.”

Amanda Huelskamp McGonigal is an award-winning copywriting and communications consultant based in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Amanda has spent her career helping small businesses and startups build their brand identities and marketing strategies with humor and empathy at the forefront. With a long-term goal of being the millennial Mr. Rogers and a strong sense of internet humor, you can count on Amanda to be kind-hearted and chronically-online herself.

The image used in this article is owned by Priscilla Du Preez.

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