online myopia

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As I shared last week, I recently needed to take a break from the online world.

I now realize that I expereinced something I’m now calling “online myopia,” or a warped, short-sighted perception of the online world.

Having spent the last four years devoted to building a business based on the wonders of the web, I fell victim to a skewed view of the negatives inherent in this same community.

Little by little, over the span of a few weeks, I became disconnected with the truth of my situation and my inherent worth.

Interestingly, the self-worth I sought started in an innocent place: to serve people.

But that positive aim deteriorated in the wake of little thoughts of competition, compulsively seeking feedback online, and a general withdrawal from the real world.

I know this all sounds pretty intense. And in a way, it paints a much darker picture than it really was… but at the same time, it is rather accurate.

One of the interesting symptoms of online myopia is the gradual disregard for many real world experiences in pursuit of online validation.

It became easy to downgrade the great service I was doing in real life, and instead focus on all the online “goals” I had yet to attain (I use the word goals loosely here because there wasn’t any real aim besides generally feeling like I was “enough” online).

To those who do not spend most of their days online and supporting themselves in this manner, this might seem downright crazy. 

But I have a feeling that those who spend a significant amount of time supporting themselves with online activities year after year, may feel shades of this phenomenon every so often.

In fact, I think this may also be quite similar to the bouts of depression that Facebook can cause extremely frequent users.

However, one of the more convincing fears inherent in web-based business is that any time away from the internet could mean less connections, clients, and revenue from online sources.

Because of this, taking time off from social media and online communities can be a scary proposition for a small business owner experiencing online myopia.

Though it might be good for our well-being, it’s hard to convince ourselves that we should remove ourselves from what ultimately provides business growth and abundance as well.

Having faced this limiting belief myself last week, I can now say that taking the time to step back and gain better perspective was the best thing I could do for myself and my business.

Sure, I could have tried to loosen the negative paradigm while still being active online.

But the truth is I don’t think that really would have worked.

I truly needed to remove myself from the online world and test the fearful assumption that “all would go to hell” if I stepped away for a few days.

It didn’t.

In fact, I immediately felt a sense of relief and focus that I had not felt for several months. I got new ideas, I focused on a whole new evolution of my business (hopefully to be shared tomorrow), and I regained my own sense of inherent worth.

Surprisingly, I also had a large influx of clients!

I now genuinely believe that when we are at our best, our businesses flourish online or offline. And our actual presence online is not quite as important as level of power or force we exude in our lives.

When we feel we need to force things, things stop coming. When we are in a power-filled place in our lives, good things flow.

Online or offline.


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  1. Allison

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better!

  2. Sara

    Absolutely love this. In particular, your point: “the gradual disregard for many real world experiences in pursuit of online validation…” hit home! I’m so guilty of this, but I’ve never been able to put it into words! You hit the nail on the head. Thank you for this!!

    1. Jess Lively

      I’m glad that the post helped you put it into words for yourself as well. I think this is more common than we’d imagine…

  3. Adriana

    Amen to that!

    Thank you for being honest.

  4. Rita Arens

    I have found that if I watch too much television, I start feeling depressed, like I need to go have my own life instead of watching someone else’s. This sounds sort of similar. Good for you for pulling back.

    1. Jess Lively

      Interesting! I never thought about TV before, but it totally makes sense.

  5. Kim

    Thanks so much for this Jess. I’m in the midst of a self-imposed monthlong Facebook ban because I noticed that the balance in my love/hate relationship with FB was definitely slanting towards hate more and more. I was experiencing a constant need for validation, a let down feeling when I didnt get it (or not enough to my standards) and a constant comparing of my life to that of others, when at the same time i knew, in the back of my head, that what people portray online is often not representative of what is going on offline. In the beginning I was bummed that apparently I cant shield myself enough from the influence of others. At the same time this Facebook free period has given me peace of mind and a renewed focus on my own life instead of focusing on that of others. I have a lot to be grateful for 🙂

    1. Jess Lively

      Thank you for sharing! I can now totally relate to what you are going through first-hand, in my own way. I can also totally relate to how freeing it is to be on your own away from it when you need to.

      Bravo for taking care of your needs and honoring what is best for you!

  6. Lori Lavender Luz

    “One of the interesting symptoms of online myopia is the gradual
    disregard for many real world experiences in pursuit of
    online validation.”

    For me, it’s so easy to slip into this. I require constant vigilance not allow myopia to creep in.

    Thanks for this reminder to be mindful.

  7. Bravo. i can attest to your work in person – working with you has taught me to redirect my focus to doing what i love and it’s made such a huge difference in my life. Thank you.

    1. Jess Lively

      Aw, thanks so much, Gayle! I hope things are moving along nicely with the site!

  8. Jess Lively

    Thanks for sharing, Erika. I appreciate it!

  9. sarah engel

    wow, very truthful and well stated. I pop by here now and then, and never leave comments (on any blog really). Hello, I think this is a BIG diversion for all of us. What we perceive online is sometimes such a departure from reality. But you wonder, how are people moving past me in what they are accomplishing, or traveling more, or having these grand weddings (I did the same as you with a small family only wedding). It lends itself to much comparison and since we are instantly satiated online it can get a little addictive. There is a reason that ‘reality’ resonates with people and why you will probably gain more clients through being honest and engaging outside the online world. I think we all need a break sometimes. I am such a fan of all that you are trying to accomplish here…

    1. Jess Lively

      Aw, thank you so much! I appreciate your thoughts on this subject, I think you are right, most of us probably feel this at some point or another.

  10. Hi Jess. Thank you so much for sharing this post. It’s weird, this world we live in, and it’s hard for others to understand the constant compulsion to check this site, check that site, check this stat, instagram this moment. On Monday I didn’t write a blog post because I was working on something else and, even though I’ve gotten better about it, there was still this nagging guilt of not blogging that day. The relief I felt when the world didn’t crumble! 😉

    I’ve been reading a lot of “slow blogging” posts this year and spending some time thinking outside of the blog world, and it’s been nice. Looking forward to reading more here. 🙂

    1. Jess Lively

      Nice! What is “slow blogging?”

        1. Jess Lively

          Very nice! Thank you for the link and the links you shared in the post! So far now that I’m “back” I’ve enjoyed not checking email entirely and very rarely (like once a night) check anything social related. It’s nice to be back.

  11. Sandra Harris

    So true – and how easy it is to fall into this trap.

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I use social media and my blogging – about what I would walk away with if it all stopped. And it helps me focus on my own personal creative goals of bettering my writing and my photography.

    My “takeaways” had better be more than this many likes or that many comments or RT’s. And it is, if I have the right frame of mind.

    I have friendships that I wouldn’t have had otherwise and I’ve learned a lot about photography and writing and art and design. More than a lot.

    But if and when that connecting and learning slips into the pursuit of the “like”, it’s time to pull back and reassess.

    1. Jess Lively

      What a brilliant thought! What if it all stops?

      That is such a fantastic thought for me to ponder this weekend to help put this all into perspective a bit more in general – good or bad!

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