Return To The Real World

5 min readMar 22, 2024

This is not the first time I have written about the digital world, its pleasures and dangers. Twice in the past, I have written about this topic, starting with “Our Digitial Screens” (a more poetic entry) and “My Digital Prison”, a post that spoke of my video gaming addiction. This post will be a combination of the two, probably less poetic and somewhat direct and to the point.

Welcome to the Real World

In the 1999 Matrix film, when Keanu Reeves’s character and series’ main protagonist, Neo, first emerges from the Matrix (the digital world created by a race of sentient machines to keep humanity docile and their power source), he is greeted by these infamous words: “Welcome to the real world” by Morpheus. Those four words have become increasingly relevant in today’s world, where the digital world is keeping many of us locked in and focused more on our digital screens than on the world around us. The fact that we now have sayings such as “hope to meet you IRL (In Real Life)” is proof of this.

Image by 51581 on Pixabay

The ever-expanding digital world is to be celebrated. It allows us to work, communicate, shop, get our news, and interact with our fellow man like never before. The consumer is no longer limited to what they can find on their local high street, nor do they have to travel hours to a major city to shop for the more desirable brands and products; we can even have our grocery shopping delivered to our doors.

Great for business

This has benefited businesses, too, as they sell directly to the consumer and are no longer at the mercy of the high street. All they need is a good online presence, knowledge of the online space, a team who can work from anywhere in the world with a good internet connection and they can operate from pretty much anywhere.

Online Dating

The dating world has changed too; no longer are we beholden to a random encounter and hope that Aphrodite smiles kindly upon our desires to find comfort in the arms of another or, dare I say love. Thanks to a whole variety of dating apps, this process has become streamlined, and we can find a whole variety of people with a simple like or swipe right. Be it on Hinge, Tinder, Grinder or Bumble, depending on your preferences, it has never been easier to find someone to get hot and steamy with on a Friday night or to forge a relationship with.

My Own History

But with all this newfound connectivity comes new dangers. I wrote about one of them in “My Digital Prison”, on them is video gaming, a different kind of drug. A drug that I have personally succumbed to for hours, if not days, weeks and months on end. On my Xbox, I have spent well over 67 days on just six of the games in my game library, which contains over 120 titles. I will admit that I didn’t have to be that honest, but it’s important in life to be sincere and to analyse things and, more importantly, your own habits properly. I have to admit those numbers staggered me when I looked at them while writing this. I knew the numbers wouldn’t be good, but I kind of hoped it wouldn’t be that bad. I can’t help but think of what I could have achieved if I had redirected my efforts to other endeavours such as work, blogging on Medium, writing, reading, socialising, learning, etc; the list is endless.

Social Media — The Digital Drug

Other than gaming, there are other digital dangers/distractions, the most popular being social media: Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, X (formally known as Twitter), and Snapchat (I think that’s still a thing). These platforms allow us to spend countless hours being unproductive as time fades away into a seemingly endless abyss. Unless, of course, you’re a content creator, and this is your job/work, then it’s time well spent, but for most of us, when we use certain social media platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, Facebook and Instagram. It’s to watch videos, view photos, make our reactions and, on the whole, waste time. They are distractions, digital drugs that we fill up our time with on-screens that we can carry in our pockets. This causes many of us to get bad postures as we spend more time staring down at a screen in the palm of our hands instead of looking at the world around us and the endless possibilities that lie within it.

Time spent on Social Media 2023

Last year (2023), according to Datareportal in their Digital 2023 Deep-Dive report looking at internet users between the ages of 16 and 64, they found that the global average for time spent on social media was 2 hours and 31 minutes per day. Bear in mind some countries don’t have the best internet, so it's safe to say that in the more developed countries, it’s likely higher. I personally expected it to be closer to 4 hours or 6 hours, but even then, 2.5 hours per day multiplied by 365 comes to over 912 hours, which is 38 days or 5.4 weeks a year on social media. It’s insane how much time the world spends on those platforms. If you really want scary numbers, let’s look at when Facebook and YouTube first launched in 2004 and 2005, respectively; using the numbers from last year, if someone had spent 2.5 hours per day for 20 years on social media, which is feasible, it comes to 760 days or 18,240 hours.

Respect for creators

I am full of nothing but praise for social media content creators and those who have started from relatively nothing and made careers on these platforms, as it’s no mean feat. The time they have to spend to create content that will attract viewers, grow a following and build a brand that people buy in to. It comes down to the consumers of this content need to practise self-discipline and focus on the important issues in their lives.

Live in the real world

By all means, we should enjoy these digital distractions, but we need to remind ourselves not to lose focus on what’s important in our lives: friends, family, work, colleagues, travel, and other experiences in the physical/real world. That is so full of possibilities and opportunities; all we have to do is put down our screens and go tech-free every now and then. Escape from the digital world and get out to the real world. You might be surprised by what you might find…




A Gentleman Writer by name A Gentleman who Writes by nature so come and explore the world through my eyes and words. Blogger with a unique view on the world.