Does Working Online Isolate You from the World?


questions and answersThis post is part of the Friday Q&A section. If you want to ask a question, just write a comment below.

Cherran asks:

As a person working online, after the initial revenue goals are achieved, I’m getting a feeling that I’m little bit straying away from the normal world. Even for a small business owner with half of our income, he would need to interact with people face to face everyday.

I’m getting a feeling that we may live in a safe cocoon, far away from the reality.

Have you ever felt this way? If so how do you deal with it? Joining some organizations, working from coffee shops these are some of things came to my mind.

When you work full time on the Internet you’ll definitely be having fewer face to face interactions, especially if compared with someone who works inside a large company. Certainly this is not a positive thing, as human beings are social by nature. But, it is not necessarily a bad thing either.

It can be a negative thing if you are a person who needs or likes to be interacting with other people all the time. There are people out there who simply would go nuts if they had to work all day alone inside a home office.

However, there are many people who don’t mind it, and in this case the lack of social interactions you get from working online is not a big problem. This is especially true if you consider the advantages that such a lifestyle has: the possibility to spend more time with your family, the flexibility regarding your schedule, the time you save because you don’t need to commute, the possibility to live and work from anywhere around the world and so on.

I belong to the second camp, which means that I don’t mind the lack of face to face interactions while I work. It is important to balance things out though. For instance, every week day I get out to practice at least one hour of physical activity, and during the weekends I also go out my friends.

The things you mentioned can also help. For example, there are many people who like to work from coffee shops. Some even rent a shared office space so that they get to interact with other people.

What do you guys think? Do you believe that working online isolates you from the world? Is this necessarily a bad thing?

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30 Responses to “Does Working Online Isolate You from the World?”

  • Peter

    I need a blend of time to do work with little disturbance but also I do need human interaction. Just chat, or bouncing ideas. I know a few people in the online industry that can get in a zombified trance from working all day from working at home.

    I go out to either coffee shops, or I’ll go to the local gym where they have free Wifi and there’s always people passing by who I can talk to and have a coffee with if I need to take a break.

    If you’re working alone I think you’re less likely to take breaks because you just want to finish up so that everything is done. Being with other humans makes you want to take a break.

  • Gayane

    It definitely isolates. I found when I just started, that I think more in terms of “navigating”, “searching”, “tagging”, “stumbling”, “posting” etc. 🙂 when I was talking to people, or walking in the streets.

    However, with sound mind gradually you balance the virtual world and the real one. I love more interacting with people, in real. And Saturdays and Sundays for me are fully off from any online connections.

  • Tom Ripley


    Personnel I keep in touch with the real world through Skype, video chatting and the BBC news 🙂

    The thing i find the hardest is not having anybody to chat to during the working day, other than the Dogs and to be honest they are no so great at SEO 🙁

    thanks for the thoughts and to share our lives on line

  • David

    When you meet people on the internet it is not the same as physically
    meeting them.
    But for business this is good we can get on with working with anyone internationally as well.

  • Conversational Agent

    We interact with people online and gain more from the world, but face to face conversation/interaction is really different. Why not go out every once in a while, I mean relax and take a rest like people who work for companies; they have their weekend off, why not us who have flexible hours right?

  • Lesley Rice

    Working from home gives me the freedom to associate with the people I want to when I want to.

    I recently moved from the UK to the USA and find that the internet helps me stay in touch with friends, I have skype and messaging windows open a lot of the time so I can honestly say I feel less isolated than I did when working as a consultant in the UK.

    I live on an Eagle preserve, so as I write this I’m sitting with brilliant sunshine streaming in the window, soft music in the background and some fascinating birds strutting about just outside. I can’t imagine exchanging this for a cold, windowless cubicle, no matter how sociable the people were.

  • Aditya Kane

    Dont your think that basically it is not much of a problem as long as your balance the social interactions. I need to interact with a lot of people at a large office but work from home allows compensating one lack with another plus which are Friends and beer. 😛
    I guess the key is not to stop having a life just because you are in front of a computer in your house.

  • Alex Dumitru

    I am also working full-time from home and I only meet people when going out with my friends or at conferences. I don’t have any clients and I usually don’t interact with more people. And I really don’t feel weird.

  • Nate @ House of Annie

    Working alone can be a good thing. I like the isolation and privacy aspect. If you’re feeling lonely, you can always pop up a video chat with an online friend. Or if you really want face-to-face interaction with others in your line of work, attend a conference or workshop.

  • Teena

    Personally I love working at home, handling my own time and see my daughter grow-up. I don’t feel like being in isolation, I guess if you love what your doing, it don’t matter at all, and it also depends on the kind of work you do for a living at home. I only go out like once or twice every two weeks but I’m still in tune with what is happening around especially in the internet marketing arena.

  • Fabrizio Van Marciano

    Interesting post, I do believe in many ways that working online from home evenly does have an affect on the existence of your life outside the box if you like. I recently spent a solid 13 weeks indoors working on several online projects and as the girlfriend goes to a place of work I was pretty much alone for 10 hours of each day. We met up with some old friends last weekend and being out and about town for the first time in forever was one of the weirdest feelings ever, I almost felt unsafe and threatened when I really didn’t need to feel like it at all. It’s best to not be contained into it too much. Working online should give you the freedom to get out whenever you can or want, but understandably if you’re ploughing away doing the hard graft first then this may come later, in either case don’t become a hermit like me.

  • Diana

    yes, I have an online job for many years now and I do believe that it does Isolate you from the “outside” world! At times i feel like i don’t do anything, go anywhere or anything i’m inside the house just online all day which is horrible.

  • Trish

    For me, after being in retailsales for 20 years, a bit of isolation can be a good thing. No screaming babies, no angry customers, no tasks that do nothing to help MY area. I try and get out with a few selected friends. And working online has taught me that most of the people I thought were friends were really just coworkers.

  • pochp

    I also feel that -being isolated because I spend almost all my day on the Net. But I don’t think it’s bad for health. In fact, in my case, I’m more isolated in the real world because the people I’m close to are far away and the Net is my tool for corresponding with them.

    A sure sign that you’re overspending time on the Net (that’s bad now) is when you notice that you’re ignoring real-world tasks. I have an article about all these in EzineArticles.

  • John Henderson

    I have definitely isolated myself a bit. Personally, I love it. After being a server/bartender for so long, I don’t mind not dealing with people unless I want to.

    Now, if I want to interact with people, it’s on my terms.

    So I guess it’s not an issue of isolation, it’s the issue of filtering out all of the interactions that I didn’t want to deal with in the first place.

  • Basant | Techno-Pulse

    As we all know web is a virtual world and at times a full time web entrepreneurs may feel isolated. But the freedom it provides is something which outweighs all the cons. Moreover it’s more productive as you don’t waste time in commuting & meaningless chit-chat in office.

  • Christina (@ Cash Campfire)

    I don’t mind being isolated all the time while I work at home in my office. I actually like the peace and quiet here. The room is pretty much sound proof as well. So, when I close the door, I don’t get interrupted with outside noises.

    I guess I’m just used to working alone. I have never been outgoing or overly social. I’m actually pretty shy away from the keyboard. Many people who don’t know me in the real wouldn’t even realize this, as I tend to be pretty chatty online.

    No, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to spend a majority of your time online. I do think people like me should occasionally take a step outside to simply breathe the cool night air if they can or hang out with friends on weekends, though. I do this on occasion. I especially love spending time with my younger brother. He talks a mile a minute, so he gives me all the social interaction I need for the day. *wink*

    Great article!


  • Elite Web Professionals

    I have to agree with Ross, I think that working from home on the internet gives you more freedom. The better you get at establishing your business online by setting & achieving goals, the more time you have to interact with the “world.”(If you were to say that by working online that means that you are not interacting with the world.)

    It has been my experience, that when I worked for a corporation, I felt the most isolated. When they needed more production, that meant more time at work. Isolating me from the people who meant the most to me, friends and family.

  • Peter

    Well we could say that we isolate ourselves from our friends and relatives temporarily but on the other side we are building relationships with people in the virtual world. So I think it is just balanced.

    Working online doesn’t make you a hermit, building contacts in the Web is a necessity in order for you to succeed. Although of course we have to do some activities to feel normal again lest we would soon forget the smell of fresh flowers.

  • Ross

    “I think it gives you the freedom to interact with the world on your terms.” – I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Working from “home” allows you far more freedom. The choices to work when and where you want, and socialize when and where you want.

    Sure there are times I miss going into an office (rare) and (some) of the social aspects of it. Not even nearly close enough to voluntarily go back to a 9-5 mind you. Plus, you don’t have to make small-talk with total idiot co-workers.

  • Karol K.

    I believe that humans are essentially herd creatures. We live in big cities, some of us live in smaller ones, but there are really not many people who live alone in the middle of nowhere. We need interactions with others cause that’s how we’re built. Working online does not go well with that. That’s why going out every once in a while is very important.

  • illz

    Using the internet isolates a person. Not even small talk around. It depends how much you use the internet. Online work obviously uses the internet, Therefore, yes it does isolate. I thought this was a given?

  • Bamboo Forest – Tick Tock Timer

    I think it gives you the freedom to interact with the world on your terms. And the time saved commuting, that’s huge!

  • Jim Kukral

    That’s why you HAVE to get out and go to shows and network. You really have to find the time and money to do this.

  • Michael

    I’m a social person, so I make sure that when I’m not working I’m getting out into the world. But I’m also very self-contained, so working alone feels very natural to me.

    One way to get the best of both worlds is to take the laptop to a coffee shop. That way you get the buzz of humanity (no pun intended) and for me that can stimulate ideas. Hey, free wi-fi at Starbucks!

    • pochp

      Brilliant idea!

  • Stephanie – Home with the Kids

    I prefer the isolation. I’m very much an introvert, so the time away from other people feels good. Keeping up with people on forums and social sites is easier for me, although I’m not a master of conversations in the virtual world either.

  • Destination Infinity

    To a certain extant it does isolate. Sometimes the isolation could be daunting as well. But for a person like me who loves the nights because of the silence, who works more efficiently when there is no one to disturb, being alone can also be good and productive. I think the key is the one or two days of break that one needs to take. For one full day, take a wow not to touch the laptop – naturally you will want to go out with friends etc, and the social life will continue.

    Destination Infinity

  • Justin P Lambert

    I’m the odd bird who doesn’t mind being isolated from the world. I need to kick myself in the butt now and then to force myself to get up and out just so I don’t completely lose touch with what’s outside my four walls. That could be just as detrimental to my writing and my ability to help my clients as not being able to focus on my work!

  • D R E W

    i work from home during the day. sometimes i head down to the local coffeehouse. sometimes i meet friends for lunch.

    another thing to think about is your evenings… teaching, becoming part of a sports group or taking a class might work. i teach a high school group in the evenings and weekends which i love. i am very good friends will all the other staff/coaches and i’ve even become friends with a lot of the parents.

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