We live in a world that revolves around Social Media. The US President announces policy decisions on Twitter before an official press release. We run campaigns and petitions “online” and address the biggest social issues via Twitter revolutions. We define “celebrities” not by the excellence in their fields, but the number of “followers” they have on Instagram. But have we gone so far, that we’ve forgotten the basics of society and of human interaction? Is social media really giving birth to anti-social generations?
- We Opine on Everything, Act on Nothing.
Social media is a great platform for people to express their views and in many cases even spread awareness about certain issues that otherwise do not come to light. Unfortunately however, commenting about a topic or signing an online petition may not always be the answer to real world problems. Social media campaigns may create a tremendous awareness and noise about many issues, but are we really following up on these and taking action to bring the cause to a fruition? Or does voicing support for something gives us a false sense of having done our bit and we then continue on with our lives and move on to the next social media fad?
- We “LOL” all the time, but seldom laugh.
This one really bothers me to the point of annoyance. All the constant chatting, commenting on Facebook, Whatsapp and the “virtual” life that we live, has caused people to relate something funny with a “LOL” or an “ROFL”. And from my own experience of writing LOLs or ROFLs, as well as seeing some of the people around me use “LOL” even in verbal communication, it is clear to me that we’re never really even smiling let alone laughing out loud or rolling on the floor laughing. While communicating with our phones or our laptop screens, have we forgotten to really laugh and smile?
- We have thousands of “Followers” and “Friends” but no one that really cares.
According to a study published by the American Psychology Association, rates of mood disorders and suicide-related outcomes have increased significantly over the last decade among adolescents and young adults, impacting females and those who are wealthier, in particular. Social media is believed to be a potential driver behind the increase. The largest increases were seen among younger adults aged 18-25 (71%). Notably, rates of serious psychological distress increased by 78% among adults aged 20-21 during the time period. Meanwhile, there was a decline among adults aged 65 and older. Well aren’t the adolescents and young adults the ones with thousands of followers and friends on Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat? While the senior citizens don’t have much to look forward to and lack technology know-how as well. But clearly, while we may live in a bubble of all these social media interactions, the reality is that none of these online relationships or connections are deep enough for us to share our true thoughts, joys and sorrows with. Moreover, the tremendous pressure of living up to a “social image” results in the youth developing a wide variety of mental health issues.
- We let our confidence be dictated by “Likes” and “Comments“.
Have you found yourself actively tracking the number of likes and comments on your latest Facebook, Instagram or Twitter post? Yes, we yearn for external affirmation of our views and end up defining the conviction in our thoughts, or the confidence in our new look or piece of art by how many people “like” it. Are we really so short of self-confidence that the passive act of a click by a random stranger means more to us than anything else?
- We forget to enjoy the moment trying to create the perfect “Selfie”.
In the most memorable moments of our lives – whether it is a celebration with friends, a vacation to a beautiful new place, or just a candid moment of joy with your loved ones, there is always either your own inner urge, or that one person that ruins the moment by wanting to click a perfect “selfie” or the perfect picture to post on social media. Can we really truly enjoy a vacation in the mountains or the beach without feeling the need to show it off to the world? What is shocking is that people risk their lives taking the perfect selfie – there is actually a Wikipedia page dedicated to Selfie-related deaths, and the number is by no means small when it comes to people’s lives.
- We spend 5 hours on social media and not 5 minutes on social interaction.
Ask yourself this – what is the average time you spend on your phone or your laptop on social media vs. the actual time spent with your friends and family? Even outside of a COVID-stricken world, I am sure most of you will find the amount is higher for the former than the latter. What started off as a way to keep in touch with your friends, is now increasingly the only way you interact with people. While that may be great for the companies that run the social media platforms, and may or may not be a fault of theirs, should we take a step back and re-assess our priorities?
- We know how to chat but not how to converse.
Most of us can probably chat on messengers with a lot more confidence and ease than we can hold a real conversation. The art and skill that it takes to hold a meaningful conversation with another person in real life is dying, and dying fast. When was the last time you felt comfortable in walking up to a random stranger and giving them a compliment? Can’t recall? When was the last time you “liked” or “commented” on a picture or a post by a person you’ve never met? Probably within the last hour or 2. The most talked-about generation of all time – the “Millennials” are so used to the digital world that they’re losing the basic art of human interaction and communication.
Let us not let social media take away from us the very fundamental that is is based on, the need for social interaction – defined as an exchange between two or more individuals that is a building block of society.