Why Social Media is Anti-Social

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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?

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  7. 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. 

COVID-19, Racism, Hunger? Social Issues Through Maslow’s Lens

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As someone who aims to someday dedicate his life towards a social cause, without yet knowing what that cause will be and when that time might come, I continue to look at the social issues around me and wonder what moves me the most and if one problem can be attributed to be at the root of all others, if there is even such a thing. And as the world battled between the mayhem created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rousing anger in the global community fueled by the death of George Floyd, as yet another reminder of the racial discrimination that plagues our society, it felt to me that there is no way of calling one issue or problem greater than the other and it all boils down to each individual’s perspective.

I wondered however, how many such deaths occur in the “third world nations” (as much as I hate that term, as if describing aliens, and interestingly the origin of the term from the non-aligned nations during the Cold War had little to do with the “poor country” notion that it now represents) just about everyday at the hands of police brutality towards the economically weaker strata, or the lower caste or members of other parts of society whose lives seem to hold less value than others. Why then, is there no such revolution seen everyday, in just about every part of the world, to demand true equality and remind the world that each life matters equally? The answer I felt quite simply lies in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Physiological Needs – You need food, water, and air to survive.

In countries where a huge portion of population spends most of their time thinking about how they’ll earn their next meal, and where the “poverty line” is set at a little over a dollar a day, and still close to a 100 million people end up below it, it is quite clear where the priorities lie. The physiological needs of food, water, shelter and so on remain unfulfilled for an appallingly huge portion of the world.

Safety & Security Needs – Money, Health and Crime

For those that don’t have to worry about this, then comes the need for safety and security. And unfortunately again, rates of crime in most parts of the world are so high, that calling any place safe, isn’t quite safe anymore. And so there is that other huge chunk of population that struggles with ensuring their safety, and also their security whether it is financial, or health, and so the millions trying to stay at home and keep safe from the pandemic also fall under this category.

Social Needs – Love, Belonging and Freedom…

Once we go beyond this, just as the pyramid of Maslow’s Hierarchy, we’re now getting into the minority of the world’s population, that is beyond these needs and can focus on the 3rd layer i.e. the need for love and belonging. Now this brings us to a couple of different very topical issues that concern people today – fight against discrimination and the focus on mental health. If you’re lucky enough to have met your physiological and safety needs, you crave for the social needs, and this is where you need love and acceptance to stay emotionally and mentally strong and sane, while you also need a sense of affiliation to a community or religious group or whatever it may be that you choose. And so a lot of the focus on mental health, resilience on one end and discrimination, diversity and equality on the other seems to be most talked about in a certain strata of the society that doesn’t need to worry about the first 2 bits. While this does not take anything away from the seriousness of these issues, it does tell me that you’re partly lucky if you got to the stage where these are the primary issues that concern you.

Esteem and Self-Actualization – I’ll reserve for another time…

Beyond this, I probably won’t spend too much time discussing, because if you’re beyond the first three, you’re probably in quite a good place, and are striving to be a better version of a already pretty darn lucky self (and that luck could absolutely be a combination of chance and your own hard work).


And what did I learn from this pretty long rant? That in my mind there is probably a starting point if we are to change the world, and it probably starts at ensuring that each person in the world is well fed and has access to the bare essentials of life. And by this I in no way imply that all the other issues are irrelevant (in fact I do deeply care about them, as you’ll find here), but if some day I do fulfill my dream of starting work towards a social cause, I think I know where my priorities will lie.