What being 'extremely online' means and why this movement isn’t the joke you’re making it out to be

If you’ve been on social media lately, you may have come across the "internet beef" between Doja Cat and Stranger Things actor, Noah Schnapp.

Long story short, Schnapp shared a screenshot of his Instagram DMs with Doja Cat where she asked him to hook her up with his new Stranger Things season 4 co-star, Joseph Quinn - and who wouldn’t honestly, have you seen him?

She went on to TikTok live and criticised Schnapp for invading her privacy by sharing the screenshots publicly but eventually, they both apologised to each other and resolved the "drama" between them.

Doja Cat and Noah Shnapp
Left - Noah Shnapp (Source: PhotographerRob Latour/Shutterstock), Right - Doja Cat (Source: Image Press Agency/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)

What wasn’t expected was the ruthless backlash that Doja Cat later received across social media. Outrageous takes on the matter (in an attempt to cancel her) have ranged from accusing her of being a paedophile or groomer for sliding into a 17-year-old’s DMs to calling her a cheater because she already has a boyfriend - even though nobody knows anything about their relationship.

This is a perfect example of what has been referred to as being 'extremely online', a term that has become increasingly popular in describing people, often from the Gen Z crowd, using social media applications – mostly on Twitter and TikTok.

To put it simply, being 'extremely online' refers to someone having spent so much time on social media that it has warped their view of reality offline and their ability to translate things they see on screen to real-life social interactions.

Other terms used to describe this include 'chronically online' or 'terminally online' but some people have pointed out that the language used for both of these phrases can be considered ableist.

The term originated sometime after the Covid-19 pandemic as a result of young people being out of touch with the world for so long and being confined to using social media as their only means of communication with the outside world.

That, combined with the constant spread of misinformation across TikTok, Twitter and Instagram as well as the pressure to always be "politically correct", has resulted in this warped sense of what is real online versus the outside world.

More examples of being 'extremely online' include things like TikTok fan-cams being made to romanticise real-life court cases, claiming that wearing hoop earrings as an everyday accessory is cultural appropriation, or calling fathers paedophiles for bathing their baby daughters.

The ironic thing is that the word has become so over-used on the internet now that it has lost all meaning and the term itself has become, as you guessed it, extremely online.

The problem with these takes, besides the fact that they make it excruciatingly frustrating to scroll through your timeline in peace, is that they downplay real issues in the world that people actually need to pay attention to.

Going back to the Noah Schnapp/Doja Cat debacle, for example, a user on Twitter pointed out the fact that Doja Cat is being slammed on the internet for DMing a 17-year-old to hook her up with his co-star while Johnny Depp continues to be given praise online despite the fact that he once hooked up with a 17-year-old himself (referring to his relationship with ex Winona Ryder in 1989 when he was 26 and she was 17).

The constant back and forth discourse on very niche ‘issues’ can have a huge influence on people that are susceptible to this information and consequently, it is then shocking to them when they realise it is not as big a deal in the real world.

Users love to blame this issue on people being too gullible about the content that they’re consuming, and that the solution is just to "go outside and touch grass". The reality though is that this is a side effect of a pandemic that has forced people to be in this online bubble and it will take a lot of unlearning to grow out of it.

Moving forward isn’t taking the term 'extremely online' too literally and being angry at people who fall into this category.

It’s by taking a step back when you do see questionable "online takes" and doing your own research before sharing it, so you can protect others from being exposed to them too.

What is the most 'extremely online' take you’ve seen on social media? Share your most ridiculous picks with us in the comments below!