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When we think 'Internet,' do we associate it with positivity? I, for one, tend to think of commenters arguing about pointless things in the comments under a YouTube video or fandoms going at each other on Twitter (X). However, a study by Oxford University revealed that Internet use can result in higher well-being.

If you're using it to connect with other like-minded people and chat about the things you like, it definitely contributes to more positivity. If you frequent groups like the Wholesome Meets The Internet community on Facebook, you can also get a dopamine boost pretty instantly. So let today be an uplifting day, Pandas, and enjoy some of the memes the members of this group shared to make each other's days better!

We often demonize social media for dumbing us down, reducing our attention span, and promoting unhealthy habits. But it (and the Internet as a whole) has positive effects on our mental well-being as well. That is, as long as we use it and connect with people mindfully. A Harvard University study explored this phenomenon.

When we use social media routinely, say, check our feeds once or twice a day and respond to what others have posted, it contributes to our social well-being, self-rated health, and better mental health. When we're checking our social media accounts obsessively, it gets trickier. We don't feel the same social fulfillment, start feeling worse about ourselves, and our mental health deteriorates in general.

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What can we do to avoid it? The authors of the study claim that self-regulation is key. As Nathan Brandon, Psy.D., told us in a previous interview, we should curate our online experiences so that we don't feel overwhelmed.

"This involves actively choosing to follow accounts that align with your values and unfollowing toxic or triggering content," he explained. "It can also be beneficial to turn off notifications for news stories that may create anxiety so you can read them when you're ready rather than being bombarded with them throughout the day."

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"Practicing mindfulness about how you consume online content can help to manage feelings of overwhelm or stress," he went on, echoing what the authors of the Harvard study claimed. "Taking breaks, setting time limits, and engaging in self-care activities offline can also help maintain a healthy balance between online and offline life. It's vital to prioritize self-care and offline activities that bring joy and fulfillment."

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Dr. Brandon also told us back then that a 'digital detox' period can be very helpful. "Designate certain times of the day or specific days of the week as screen-free, allowing time to reconnect with the physical world and engage in activities like reading, [exercising], or spending time in nature," he suggested to our readers back then.

Socializing and finding support in community was another factor Dr. Brandon emphasized for a positive online experience. And some people may find it in online spaces. In fact, the co-author of the Harvard study, Mesfin Awoke Bekalu, said that social media "may compensate for diminishing face-to-face social interactions in people's busy lives."

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However, there is also research that contradicts this. A 2018 study found that socializing and being around people makes us more satisfied with our lives. You might think that chatting on Discord or in the comments here under this post might have the same effect. But not quite. As Social Psychologist Alexander Danvers, Ph.D., told us before, in-person socialization is more beneficial.

Danvers and colleagues did research trying to understand behavior through mobile sensing. They would measure socializing through conversations they could record on a smartphone or a fitness tracker. They found that in-person socializing benefits us a great deal.

"Being around people for longer is related to being more satisfied with your life, and that being alone for less than 75% of your day (about 12 of 16 waking hours) probably won't leave you feeling lonely," Danvers explained.

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Francis
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3 weeks ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

i hope she got him extra bonus miles or a good discount for the flights :)

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"Just talking to someone in meatspace is a demanding task," he explained previously. "So, I'd think of online socializing as sort of the 'lite' version. That may be nice to do when you're feeling tired or burnt out, but it's also not going to give you the full experience of connecting with another person. To have really satisfying connections, you do need to put in the effort of navigating the more complicated world of in-person interactions."

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Mesfin Awoke Bekalu also spoke about how he and his colleagues found disparities in the positive effects of social media for people across different ages, races, and social standings. "While the benefits were generally associated with younger age, better education, and being white, the harms were associated with older age, less education, and being a racial minority," he commented.

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Nevertheless, socializing online still has its positives. So groups like Wholesome Meets The Internet can be a great addition to your online experience. If you're looking to make your day on the Internet a bit more wholesome, give them a follow. And let us know in the comments what you thought of this selection of memes!

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nomnomborkbork
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3 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I love this, and marvel at how safe the neighborhood must be (no dogs or cats to scoop him up for a snack).

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C.O. Shea
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3 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It's the wackiest fun on a drive home from the coast. 😃

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Sue Denham
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3 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Had a cat, Jinxie, who would run to the window as my car pulled in each evening. (He did the same when the Mr. whip ice cream van drove down our street.)

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Note: this post originally had 59 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.