How Social Media Addiction Comes at a Cost

Almost a decade back, when my life revolved around Facebook, I found a long-lost friend, only to realize from a particular post that he had passed away, from an alleged drug overdose. Turned out, it was just a hoax created by some of his friends. With this bizarre incident, I found a long-lost friend who lived in the same city but had no idea about his whereabouts. 

There are many such lost and found stories, courtesy of social media. The social media boom started off with a bang, where we could find and connect with our friends, relatives, and our former batch mates after decades.

We started getting obsessed over uploading in numerous photos, posts (how so annoying good morning posts are), and even started debating on various issues, which eventually boosted our confidence as well as ego. Strangely, people have also started finding their soul mates on social media, a fact I ought not to share with my mother at all.

There have been many positives of social media, for sure. The entire logic of connecting with people triumphs all. At the time of severe adversity, as we saw during the second wave of covid, social media actually helped people getting the latest information about the availability (if any) of medicines, beds, etc.

In the most vulnerable time of our life, it was actually social media that brought thousands of people together in moments that mattered to us. Over the past year, lots of small businesses have come up, which has gathered customers across demographics, through various apps.

In today’s time of home workouts, we have been able to connect with our fitness guide and nutritionist over such platforms.  It’s surely a great way to share our interests, raise awareness of causes that are not talked about in media, express views, and read some adorable, realistic stories, which tend to bring some positivity online. 

Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV from Pexels

Not denying all the facts which have contributed to the positive impact of social media on society, it surely has created a new menace amongst us. With that constant urge to share our viewpoints, rightly so, on social media, even our personal lives have been entwined with it. The desire for fame, especially on Twitter and Instagram (knowingly/unknowingly) can make us go berserk.

Unfortunately, the nature of such a medium is to grab eyeballs. To make our mark, for professional and sometimes personal push, we tend to imitate/copy certain individuals, only to be liked and followed by them. Unfortunately, with time we become their clones.

Was this side of our personality hidden somewhere or has the pressure of few followers, retweets, and likes brought out the worse of/from us. There are times, when instead of questioning the uncouth individuals on social media, I tend to question my choices too, as on what basis did I even think of following that person, who definitely not in his/her sanest mind is spreading venom.

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It has categorically changed our lifestyle and the entire notion behind ‘interaction’. We have become more comfortable chatting and expressing our opinions with people we have not met, forgetting those with whom we live. The idea of conversation has changed, like the idea of India (apparently).

Having followed a diverse set of people online, there are some who are perpetually pessimistic about the country’s future and there are some who feel that this country would be better off if there is no pessimism around. We are encouraging extremes from both sides, where we tend to focus on the lowest common denominator to prove each other wrong and earn brownie points from our counterparts, forgetting that there is life beyond left/right, black/white.

We are not ready to accept our faults openly, and who would, if you have thousands of followers. How will our ego even allow us to do it?

Social media is dangerously becoming a powerful tool, impacting our lives on a daily basis. It’s like a squall, which is hard to control. The impact of this on our parents and grandparents generation can be seen by the way they are ready to believe any random historical fact or how India’s national anthem has been declared the best anthem by UNESCO (almost every year) or how forwarding a message would bring them good luck for next 10 days. Not to forget the early morning motivational quotes in bouquets!

After consuming news on a daily basis from social media, we have a barrage of experts coming out of each household. A virologist today can become a West Asia expert tomorrow (without naming seven sisters/states of India), who in turn would act as a Constitutional law expert the next day.

A new league of armchair activists has evolved over time (guilty myself), who in their comfortable rooms expect every issue to be resolved as per their convenience. A bizarre set of utopia has been created by them to cling to their beliefs, which they use to dismantle our personal opinion.

With squinted eyes, electronic devices have consumed our time, energy, and concentration. We have become more irritable as the daily tussle we witness on social media has started triggering our minds, thus increasing our social anxiety. In a recently published article in The Wall Street Journal, titled “Facebook knows Instagram is toxic for teen girls, company documents show”, the research revealed the impact of the app on teens and their mental health, as some of the problems were specific to Instagram.

The impact of influencers and their fancy lifestyle, especially on teens made them conscious of their bodies, resulting in eating disorders. To what extent the influencers are “influencing” us in any manner also needs to be discussed, separately.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

The entire perspective of being ‘social’ has changed. As if the discussion on social media wasn’t enough, we have continued and stretched this practice to our drawing rooms, dinner table, and any social function, without drawing a line. This has taken away the essence of a cordial debate we have deprived ourselves of.

People now ‘debate’ on social media. I am still trying to understand the theory behind it. Even in normal circumstances when we sit face to face, we tend to misjudge the opinion of our counterpart, then how is it possible for an expert to debate with an armchair activist on that platform. Debating requires being well versed with facts and also accepting one’s fault. Who is doing that? With time this is leading to the crises of victimhood narrative.

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Victimhood is becoming an important life choice. People across genders are using it. Without a subtle stand, if we are shown the truth mirror, we tend to fall on this unfortunate path. Those who are yet to make a mark for themselves substantially, feel that by trending certain hashtags, there would be a drastic change in society.

No wonder, people like them are not well versed with the ground reality. Your journey from becoming famous by holding a placard to becoming a university lecturer, with the backing of victimhood narrative could be a game-changer. Unfortunately, it’s not sending a good message to the younger generation, who need a decisive role model to guide them. Social media is fuelling such shortcuts in the name of fame.

We read news, either from Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram. These are not even news but headline grabbers. With time, even we have become lazy to click on that extra link to read or clarify. In times of clickbait journalism, it’s just an added bonus for the media entity.

Nor that they care about fake news, but these days many portals do put forward only one perspective of the story. It’s upon us, that before passing judgments of intolerance and hate, we should probably consume varied items of news to substantiate our claim. The above ranting might sound like a tirade, but this comes from personal observation and behavior of people around and those of whom I follow.

Social media is constantly changing and upgrading itself as per our needs, and I believe that with time we eventually understand the abstemious use of it and carve it out in a manner that doesn’t affect our future generations.

As I finish this article, I am ready to go back to my timeline/feed and start scrolling down to my virtual holiday.

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Read Storizen Magazine September 2021 issue celebrating 193rd birth anniversary of The Ageless Writer – Leo Tolstoy