You are sad and have no life

“People who spend a lot of time online are sad and have no life.”

That’s what most people will instinctively tell you. It’s the impression I’m getting from reading some of the blogs and comments in this week’s Star Blog.

Star Blog

Now, I’m not actually going to argue whether real life or virtual life is better or worse. I’m sure there are valid arguments for both camps.

What I really want to know is: Why do people automatically believe that having a virtual life equals no life?

Just because you were born living life one way doesn’t mean that it’s the right way. We must recognise and keep up with evolution and not resist change.

Resisting change

So, let’s assume that the person who spends most of his time online is actually happy. He earns a living online and does almost everything online, and he feels fulfilled because he enjoys what he does.

How is he sad?

You mean he is more sad than the bloke who lives in the “real” world but is unhappy because he’s got a crappy job, an abusive girlfriend and drinks his liver to death every night after work? Is the real-world guy’s life more meaningful because he spends more time in the real world, never mind how he spends it?

Of course, I could also compare an unhappy virtual-life guy with a happy real-world guy, in which case the sad one is the virtual-life guy.

Bad vs. Good

My point is that it’s not logical to judge the lifestyle. Living your life one way or another doesn’t make you better. It’s how you feel and how you make people feel with your actions that count.

Let’s examine some reasons people think Internet denizens are sad no-lifers:

  • They don’t go out and socialise.
  • They spend their lives engrossed in only one pursuit.
  • They don’t go to the movies.
  • They don’t go clubbing and partying.
  • They don’t play tennis or golf or basketball.
  • They don’t go out wining and dining.

Well, then, are we going to call a monk a no-lifer? Because we could superimpose those traits directly on a monk.

Monk

In fact, there are people who respect monks for exactly those traits.

So, what, society only allows monks to behave like that?

It just goes to show that people criticise without thinking.

Again, I’m not saying that a virtual life is better than real life. I think it’s useful to have a balance. Do what is necessary and do what you enjoy, without harming others. That’s more important.

What I really want to comment on is that some people criticise virtual living without actually having valid reasons to criticise it. They criticise it simply because they don’t subscribe to it. And that’s unfair.

It’s like someone criticising beef just because he doesn’t like to eat beef.

No, really, think about it.

I have three hours of free time and I’d rather spend it playing an online game than going to a disco. How does that make me a no-lifer?

Think about it

Okay, let’s say Persons A and B have 10 hours of free time.

Person A spends it on three activities: Go for a movie, have a meal at a restaurant, shop for clothes and books.

Person B also spends it on three activities, except that they’re all done online: Play an online game, chat with friends on MSN, shop for clothes and books.

Most poeple will automatically think that Person A’s time was more well-spent, while Person B has no life.

Why is that? Assuming both Person A and B feel equally fulfilled and happy from their activities and go to bed with a smile, how is either life better than the other?

Yet, online hobbies are not as socially accepted as offline hobbies. And that is what I don’t understand.

Better

We’re not talking about Internet addicts who skip school or miss work because of online activities. We’re talking about normal people who simply prefer to engage on online rather than offline activities, when given a choice. Should these people receive the “no-life” label?

I challenge everyone to question sweeping statements until you get a logical answer.

“Spending too much time on the Internet is bad.”

“Why?”

“Because it makes you a no-lifer.”

“How does it make me a no-lifer?”

“Because you spend your whole life online instead of going out and experiencing the real world.”

“Why would experiencing the real world make me a better person?”

“Because the real world is what life is about. The Internet is not real.”

“Who set the rule that life is more meaningful and better in the real world?”

Ask questions

But keep in mind that discussions should be for the purpose of understanding, and not for the purpose of proving that you’re right.

Too often, when people have conflicting opinions, they believe that it’s their sworn duty to convert the other person to their opinion.

Why must that be? Why can’t we recognise that everyone is made different? We have different likes and dislikes. Different things make us happy or sad. Therefore, shouldn’t we all have differing opinions?

We should enjoy the process of learning how other people think, rather than automatically condemn people for thinking differently.

Just because you like apples and you think oranges are disgusting doesn’t mean that people who eat oranges are disgusting no-lifers who can’t tell good from bad.

Apple and orange

If you think about it, that’s exactly how some people behave.

A life is a very individual thing. People derive joy from different things and they derive meaning for their lives from different pursuits. Who is anyone to tell anyone that there is a right or wrong way to live life?

If you have a really convincing reason to support your belief, then good, go ahead and believe it.

If you cannot come up with a valid reason, then ask yourself why you’re believing something blindly.

Then tell me again why you believe that people who spend a lot of time online are sad and have no life.