The Great Online Escape

Escaping everyday life used to be about booking a holiday in the sunshine and getting away from it all. These days, however, finding the cash for an overseas trip is becoming increasingly tricky so it’s just as well there are many more options for escape available, thanks to the internet. Even if you can’t jet off to the Caribbean, it’s so simple to hop online and dream about it that you can be investigating the more affordable options mere seconds after wishing you could get away from it all.

You can check out cities you’ve never been to, photographs of faraway beaches and reviews of luxury hotels. Not only is the internet filled with special offers to help you plan that dream vacation, but it can help even if you have little or no budget. Swap houses with someone in another country for a couple of weeks, discover a beautiful secluded holiday cottage a few hours drive from your home, or simply sit with your feet up and a giant pia colada while you look at photos of where you’d go if you won the lottery.

That’s not the only form of escape that the internet offers though. Losing yourself in an online world is often a treat in itself. We can escape the office job for a few minutes to catch up with friends on Facebook. We can escape from the daily commute by catching up with Twitter while we’re on the bus. Our friends and family can be there with us wherever we go, with our phones allowing us to access the internet whenever we want in order to whine about our lives and get a metaphorical hug from the people we care about most. What better way to escape the realities of day-to-day life?

In the real world, you might be an introvert with a pretty average office job and not much of a social life. Online, you can transform yourself into an outgoing social media celebrity with an air of mystery. It’s a bit like entering The Matrix, but with spambots and trolls instead of deadly Agents. The online world gives everyone an opportunity to reinvent themselves, as well as access to opinions and knowledge that they would not otherwise come across.

Escape online and you can find people who agree with you, images that inspire you, stories which encourage you, and photographs of kittens to make you smile. Social media has made it incredibly easy for us to share links with others, so access to uplifting content has never been easier. Following a few positive folk on Twitter or Facebook can result in the discovery of a whole load of wonderful blogs you never knew existed. Finding bloggers who write positively about topics you enjoy means that you’ll always have a little escape route there, ready and waiting for the times when you need it most.

Ten years ago, there were far fewer blogs than there are today and most of them were simply online diaries – a log of stuff that person had found on the web. These days, there are millions more and many of them are a source of content that rivals traditional journalism. A great deal of solo bloggers are real experts in their field, and many group blogs are sources of truly excellent content. This gives readers a real alternative to mainstream newspapers and magazines. Search for a news topic and you can now escape from reporting of it that has the political bias of the traditional press. Search for opinion pieces and you’ll find some that haven’t been tweaked for a paying readership.

If there is a subject you know a lot about – or something that makes you feel very passionate – escape from a world of magazines that aren’t saying what you want to hear by creating your own little corner of the internet. Start your own blog and you’ll have a forum to discuss topics you love, hone your writing skills and gain your own devoted readership. The only thing better than escaping into the online world, is having your own little bubble when you get there.

Social media is now a constant background hum and a huge number of us communicate, organise, plan and enquire using services provided by Google. The online world has us fully in its grasp. Those of us who remember a time before the internet dominated can’t quite imagine life without it now, but it’s important to ensure it doesn’t rule your every waking moment. After all, once that happens, you’ll be finding you need to go offline to escape and that’s exactly what we end up doing when jet off to exotic locations. Perhaps the internet is just a temporary escape after all?

This piece was first published in the rather wonderful SLiNK Magazine back in 2013.

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