CAUTION: Toxicity

CAUTION: Toxicity

There are certain words out there that you usually come across on the web more and not so much in real life. For an obvious example - lol (okay, there are people that actually say it out loud rather than laughing out loud lol).
Toxicity is one of them.

Every January, beginning of year I see people posting about "I am gonna cut out all the toxic people", "New Year's Resolution: Cut out toxicity". And you can imagine the rest. But I wonder, what do they really mean by that? I mean, what really is toxicity? And why do I hear it more often on the web than in real life?

And just like I usually do - drink some chai and set my brain on overthink mode, I realized that "cutting out" toxic people is very much an Internet thing. Think about it - in actual physical life, you usually hangout with a handful of people based on close proximity. Even for celebrities who are adored by millions, their social circle is very small and tight knit. And so we subconsiouscly put more value in protecting these relationships and also in turn, put up with a higher threshold of bullshittery from them. Proximity yields society and society yields survival. Why risk that?

Now that the virtual world is bleeding into the physical world more and more, we can't help but apply some of the Internet behaviors to our real lives. We have 500+ friends on Facebook, 2,000 followers on Instagram, 9.52 billion followers on TikTok. We have commoditized relationships.
We got trained into thinking that friendships and relationships are just ephemeral, a number game.

We have commoditized relationships

So before you go ahead and decide to cut off a friendship for being toxic, remind yourself why you didn't find it toxic before and what has changed? Or, who changed?