Monday Question – Real Life Vs. Cyberspace: How Do You Keep A Healthy Balance?

Our daily social environment has changed so fundamentally in the past twenty years, it is bound to have an impact on us. Work has become easier in many respects, but constant reachability is a definite con. Relationships often start in cyberspace because it is easy to find like-minded individuals, while we hardly dare to talk to a stranger on the streets anymore. The world becomes smaller, everything is within reach, but at the same time we are more isolated than ever. Even the way our brains are wired is changing as studies show.

No doubt there are pros and cons to our new ways of communicating and how to keep the real world and the online world balanced and in perspective is what I’d like to discuss with you today.

How does the online world impact your life?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the demands of social media?

Do you find yourself wasting time in front of the computer instead of spending it with real people?

What do you think is a good balance between real and virtual experiences?

Is this ever a problem for you?


My Answer:

I love the options and possibilities the internet provides. I love interacting with you via the blog, I love that I can research just about anything that ever comes up on the internet in minutes, I love online shopping options and virtually travelling to and exploring other worlds at the speed of my fibre optic cable.

I also feel that I have to protect myself to a degree. Not falling into a bottomless hole that is the online world is something I am very conscious of.

I have withdrawn from Facebook, Twitter etc. aside from the automated posts of my blog, because I feel the need to keep my life to myself and not know everything about everyone else either. I think it is all too easy to overload on (unnecessary) information and missing important things in the meantime.

The internet is extremely seductive and knowing myself, I know that to keep a good distance is healthy and important for me. Social media itself is not the problem, but how you use it, how seriously you take it, is of the essence. It can be destructive or life-enhancing.

I wouldn’t want to miss its obvious pros of course, but for the sake of the argument, if pressed for a decision – also thinking about my children – I think I would opt to go back to life before instant and incessant communication.

What about you?


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38 Responses to Monday Question – Real Life Vs. Cyberspace: How Do You Keep A Healthy Balance?

  1. I do spend a lot of time online, due to work and the blog I’m having for over a year now! But there’s also my family and friends that always keep me with my feet on the ground!
    There’s time for everything!
    Wishing you an amazing week!
    Lots of xx, Annie

  2. Lady Jane Grey says:

    In fact, I quite “despise” social media and have the exchange on it with people only they are my real life friends too – that means it’s pretty limited and could be done by simple emails as well. I simply cannot understand the need of posing on facebook and get the confirmation by complete strangers that I’m amazing… I wouldn’t open my window and yell to the public my opinion about everything – so why should I do it on Twitter ?! Or why should I be interested in the life of the Kardashians ?! – there is nothing meaningful in there, anyway. I’m obviouly not a voyeur and exhibitionist enough for the social media way of life… And that’s perfectly fine with me 😄

  3. cookie queen says:

    I seriously hate it – FB I mean. It wastes the most time. I turned my FB page off about three years ago and had a long break. I reopened one when I started my sporadic blogging. It is useful for my business. Or is it? I reckon life would go on without it. I am seriously pondering turning the damn thing off again. Twitter and Whatsapp are great and do no affect my life negatively. Facebook on the other hand ……. Big hug from an epically busy CQ. XXXX

  4. Hey there Birgit,
    The only way I can keep in touch with many of my mates is via online social media. There is no way I could call or email every person that’s important to me every week to find out their gossip, this way I can dip in, keep up and like or comment so they know I’m around and that as few people as possible are left out. Also, I love to add pics of the dumb stuff we all do so that people can keep up with my stuff too and still feel involved in my life though they are far away or far too busy at a given time to meet.
    Having said that, we make real time occasions in Sydney and around the world whenever possible so I can connect properly with everyone (frag or otherwise). I/we love the conversational cut and thrust of a small group at dinner, events etc and the spontaneity of the in-life hang out. Hugs in real life are better too and you get to share FOOD.
    Portia xx

  5. poodle says:

    Never been on Facebook. It always seemed like way too much work and my feeling was if I wanted to keep in touch with someone and they wanted to keep in touch with me then I’d prefer to actually do just that instead of having to seek out their stuff and “like” it every week on Facebook. Plus, I think it’s kinda creepy in some ways. Twitter, on the other hand, I love. It’s quick and easy and I can have a little chat and a laugh and get on with my day. I do enjoy the blogs too but real life comes first and then blog time. I don’t read tons of them all the time nor do I comment on all that I read. I’ve got my favorites and there I some I only check in on once in a while. It would be easy to waste hours and even days if you aren’t careful.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I joined FB only when I started Olfactoria. Otherwise I wouldn’t be on it. I may be paranoid, but I imagine I feel Big Brother breathing down my neck on FB… 😉

  6. Sabine says:

    Like you, I enjoy the possibilities of internet research, shopping and interaction with others. FB, twitter and discussion boards are a good way to keep in touch with friends and family, but often I find myself spending too much time with ‘clickbait’ stuff. Cute kittens and astonishing human achievements are a fine thing, but they don’t really add anything to my life. To find the right balance is difficult and I fear I’m often on the wrong side.

  7. Sandra says:

    Oh tough question! I love getting the shopping done online and reading the news and a blog or two. I am not a fan of Facebook as I never did have time to update it. Lately though I have been turning off the iPad so that can read more or even do my sketching and painting. I find that when I surf I lose hours of my day and get frustrated that I did nothing constructive. 😉

  8. johanob2014 says:

    I had all the social media running,from Facebook and Twitter to Myspace and Kik.I have cancelled everything,and don’t intend to activate anything ever again!Information-overload,and my personal privacy were the two important factors in deciding to cancel it all!I love the fact that-if I want to investigate something-the internet and worldwide web is available as a valuable resource of information.The perfume blogosphere also opened up a whole new world for me,which I thoroughly enjoy,but upto a point.I don’t feel I HAVE to know everything about the latest perfume releases,or what my brother is upto in Australia on a daily basis.Technology-or web-based apps like Skype and whatsapp,do make my life easier when I want to communicate with family and friends in foreign countries,so there are some advantages to some mediums still.I just don’t want to feel disconnected from society by too many “connections”,if that makes sense?Lol!Happy Week all!xo

    • Olfactoria says:

      It makes total sense Johano!
      I get the feeling that many of us are feeling the need to draw back somehow and retreat into privacy.

      • johanob2014 says:

        But we(I!!lol) DO enjoy the sneek peeks into your Hemès scarf-closet,your handbag…lol!That’s at least a fun part of the internet,and losing some grip on our guarded private lives!:-))


    As a real digital native I have come to realising that I don’t differ between digital or real and never have (and now: what’s real? discuss!), I differ between private and public. It’s so easy to shut up, it’s just important to know the context and what you want to achieve. That’s really it. Nothing more 🙂

  10. Vanessa says:

    I am like Sabine, though I have now withdrawn from Twitter for all but blog updates. FB is a habit that I need to control better. I am also susceptible to wasting far too much time on cute kittens etc, although I have found some really interesting articles that way. If I go cold turkey for a few days, I do find my friends contacting me via other media and egging me on to post on FB again! I am also guilty of email twitching way too often in a day. I wonder if this is to do with living alone, but tbh, I think I was also pretty bad in terms of electronic addictions when in a couple. Yes, very much a work in progress, this balancing lark…

  11. rickyrebarco says:

    I needed to remove myself from the cyber world for a while so I only checked my email maybe 3 or 4 times in 3 weeks and then only to make sure I had not forgotten to pay a bill. It was very freeing and good for me. I was travelling and finding much better things to see and do in the real world, meeting new people, seeing new things. It was a good reminder for me to limit my time online. I am committed to spending much less time online in my free time now.

  12. Annette says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with the internet. The ‘scientific’ side of me appreciates the wonders of instant gratification in obtaining information on anything you want within seconds…it is beyond anything we had growing up and patience is no longer exercised and certainly we no longer need to ‘drudge’ to get results. Regarding facebook, for me it has reunited me with old cousins and re-opened relationships I probably in all honesty, would not have had the time to locate. I DO however, understand the responsibility this entails, and I sometimes think it is rather sad that our friends are at the end of a button or switch. This is the thing that troubles me so I try to check my computer every day just in case someone out there might be needing something. This in turn can be demanding,and also facebook can be downright annoying and can bring out the worst in some people, but I guess it is the price one pays for the incredible communication we all have at our fingertips in todays world. I Love your blog Birgit, and have really enjoyed reading it over the last few years (even if my perfume buying is now so much more expensive!!) x

    • Olfactoria says:

      Love-Hate is right! So much good and so much bad comes from this new way of life. But I guess every generation said that about change, although this one is rather massive…

  13. shelly says:

    This is a tangent to your question but I feel very strongly.

    I teach primary school. I cannot do emails and other computer or phone based contact during class time because I am teaching and the computer is hooked up to the intereactive board with charts, work etc… for the students to see. Most parents do not have these restriction and text/email the smallest question, every question (and excuse) and want a response immediately because that is how their job may work. My friend teaches at a school that requires an email response with in 24 hours to every email even on the weekend. It is nuts how the modern ages demands immediacy.
    I use facebook only to keep in touch with the people in the dog club, only pictures of my dog go on it, it is a mine field for teachers. The upside to the modern age is place like Olfactoria as I would know much less about perfumes scarves etc. because that is not something people around me are interested in.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I completely understand your stance, Shelly. It must be a very difficult situation to handle. Immediacy often leads to complications that wouldn’t be necessary if people took/could take more time to think.

  14. Michele42 says:

    Long time reader here…first time commenting though. I do love the benefits of the internet, but as you have mentioned, one cannot be too cautious. I never did Facebook, MySpace, etc. It seemed like it would be exhausting, and I just don’t feel comfortable putting too much of myself out there. I work in IT security so I’m extra paranoid 🙂 The only thing I ever participated in was LinkedIn simply for work purposes.

    Great question!

  15. I can relate to this week’s question.

    Balance–it is always changing–and I have to–as they used to say in the old days–take the airs. I have to walk away from the computer interface–the tether–and let my senses absorb the landscape, the garden and the plants. After a bit of that, I can see and exchange with people again, either by tether or real life. I do need to take the airs regularly–deep breaths–no noise from the passion of human civilization. The frenetic race to somewhere is simply a choice.

  16. arline says:

    I forgot how much I enjoy this blog. Here’s why, its because you truly connect with people. Of course the content is great, and that is absolutely necessary, yet it is the interaction that goes on here, that is so beautiful.

    I have been absent lately, basically because I had gotten busy in real life, which can be just as distracting from connecting with others, as surfing the internet. However we connect with others, means something special.

    I am in the nascent phase of creating a website, and am doing a lot of brainstorming. I was inspired to visit here this morning, and now I know why. What you give here is a reminder of what I am wanting to include within my own expression. It is a dialog and a getting a chance to know people I may or may not see face to face.

    My content will be different, as I will focus on my yoga and my art (I am sure there will be aroma in there as well, just not like this 🙂 )

    I hope I can inspire connect with others as well as you have.

    I go to facebook daily, and I post my artwork there, but spend very little time on it, I have no interest in twitter, but lately, since I got the 5s Iphone, I have been into instagram. Instagram has been fun. One hilarious thing someone posted was a sign that said “Anyone have plans to stare at their phone somewhere exciting this weekend?’

    It is definitely a balancing act. I teach yoga at the University of Memphis, and what I noticed one semester, is that my students had no attention span what so ever. I joked one day, and asked, “Do I have to tweet your assignments, cause you guys are certainly not getting the verbal instruction”

    I thank my yoga and art practice, which commands attention, and for me to be present, and also teach me patience, and to stay the course.

    But back to connecting with others… I am shy by nature, and I find, that I feel freer somehow, sharing through text. It is very interesting for sure. I love my face to face connections too. but let me say, that the online connections that I have made, have helped me to open up more verbally to people that I am close too. Does that make sense?

    I am going to have to put you on my favorite blog list, so I don’t miss these questions. 🙂

    Oh How is your asthma? Are you able to wear fragrance? Memphis would be a horrible place for you to be right now. There is a green layer of pollen covering EVERYTHING right now.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hello Arline,
      so good to “see” you again!
      How interesting to hear that you are planning a website. Please be sure to leave the link for us once it is ready.
      I agree with what you say, I’m so glad that OT has grown into a place of connection and lively interaction, even when my own perfume wearing has dwindled into almost non-existence. The relationships here have survived that thankfully. Of course I am forever indebted and grateful to my contributing writers to keep the perfume posts coming. It shows that blogging is a team effort and a shared experience of writers and readers/commenters.
      Good luck with your site!
      (If you need any practical tips, I’d be happy to help with what I know.)
      B x

      • arline says:

        I definitely will. I had no idea how much initial work goes into creating a website. I am up for the challenge though 🙂 I appreciate your offer to assist me in this particular journey. I look forward to many connections along the way.

        I really hope you will be able to wear perfume again!!!

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