How to actually enjoy being online again

COVID-19 accelerated changes in our behaviors that drove our lives increasingly online. Screens became our almost exclusive discovery point to the world. There were some benefits to this rapid shift. For many people, work was able to continue relatively uninterrupted at home, almost anything could be ordered online and delivered, and we were able to still connect with people and celebrate life moments over video chat. However, there were also points where our screens felt like something we couldn’t escape. Zoom happy hours faded out as it became clear that drinks with friends couldn’t really be replicated online. We flirted with the idea of doing a Chrissy Teigen and quitting Twitter (only to quickly miss it and come back). Plus, despite the fact we were languishing, our online lives became more hectic than ever.

Turning on our computer or phone at times became daunting with an avalanche of Zoom meetings, calendar invites, FaceTimes from everyone we’ve ever met and near constant slacks. Because of this onslaught, we worked to create a new Firefox experience so your time online could be more efficient, calm and hopefully enjoyable. We observed the way you used the browser by studying billions of clicks to incorporate your habits into our latest release.

Now that things are starting to open up allowing for in-person interaction, we have a moment to redefine what our online life looks like for the rest of the year. And, the truth is, we will be online. And there is a lot of really f**king cool stuff online. The internet does make our life better. As our feeling of choice comes back again, here are some tips to help us all choose joy when online.

1. Create a space for what you consider the best of the web

When the internet is at its best, it reminds us that we are not alone. Find your corners of the internet, your online community, that remind you how big and exciting the world is. For some that can look like a wild comment section, or a favorite Discord, an online class where you learn something new, or a Pocket collection that you continue to revisit on when to be inspired. Create a bookmark folder called ‘things to make me laugh’ so you can revisit these sites with ease. Less time on the internet is not the key to being happy, spending time doing things that feel enriching and exciting to you is. Schedule time on these platforms just like you would spending time with loved ones or taking care of yourself, if you don’t prioritize time on the good corners of the internet, no one else is going to do it for you.

2. Turn your phone to grayscale (at least temporarily)

How often do you find yourself mindlessly reaching for your phone and then scrolling through for no reason? You look down and it’s been an hour and you didn’t accomplish or learn anything, or even really find yourself entertained. Your time matters, and app logos and colors are designed and used to capture your attention for longer. The colors stimulate your brain, so by turning your phone to grayscale and stripping the colors, you may be less motivated to check your phone as often.

This doesn’t need to be a permanent change. Seeing the experience in color is its own form of joy, but after a week or so of having your phone in grayscale, you may find yourself reaching for your phone less. Consider it a reset to only scrolling when you actually want to.

Here’s how to change your phone to grayscale on an iPhone and an Android phone.

iPhone: Accessibility > Display & Text Size > check Color Filters on > and tap on Grayscale

Android: Settings > Digital Wellbeing & Parental Controls > Wind Down > Grayscale

3. Download Firefox for the fresh new experience coming June 1

The upcoming Firefox release coming out on June 1, understands that after this last year we all need some simplicity. The Firefox browser is being redesigned to bring you a more modern and calmer web experience. Wherever visual noise — like notifications, menus and buttons — could be eliminated, were eliminated. Subtle design changes add up to make a big visual difference with new tabs that are easier to navigate, extra spacing, and lighter typography. You know those auto-playing videos that normally disrupt your browsing? Instead of having to click on every tab to see where the sound is coming from, easily scroll your tab bar and look for the sound-on icon and with one tap, turn it off. Plus, you know that you have more privacy and security built into your web experience with Firefox’s SmartBlock feature and Total Cookie Protection. You can sit back and enjoy the fresh new experience with one less thing to worry about.

4. Download customizable add-ons for a more personal internet experience

This is your online experience, what do you want to prioritize? Once you figure that out, there are endless customizable add-ons that can help. For many of us, we want our online experience to be a little less overwhelming. Having access to anything we ever wanted is good, but also comes with many distractions, so then we have to spend more time online to finish our actual tasks. There are Firefox add-ons that can remedy this instantly.

Or maybe you just want to bring something fun and colorful to your online experience? There are add-ons for that, too, from Firefox themes to add-ons that introduce cute cats to every new tab you open.

5. Go ahead and close your computer

It’s been a year and a half unlike any other, and the call of going outside, meeting people in person and closing your screen is one that you should answer when you’re ready. The web makes our world bigger, but it was never meant to be the only way we interact with people outside of our household. We should all be having experiences offline, which will only make signing back on even better. Those Zoom calls with our family members and friends across the country don’t need to stop anytime soon, the joy will just be so much more knowing that you could plan a trip to see them — you are choosing to catch up via video, not being forced too.

Sign off for a while, Firefox will be ready for you when you return.

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