Here is a tale of trust and loyalty. Social networking sites have connected us to thousands of people but actually also made us more disconnected to the world around us than ever before.
The number of mobile and PC applications (or apps) keeps popping up by the minute. While some surge to fame and fall into the shadows of the past like the sun rising and setting each day, other apps have established themselves as an intricate part of our lives. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp are some of the most prominent ones. Send a picture or a video instantly via Snapchat. Send a message or even call anywhere in the world — for free — through WhatsApp. Update people about your lives on Facebook. And be sure to provide photographic proof of the happenings of your life by posting ‘filtered’ pictures on Insta.
So far, we have a seemingly harmless story, although one which shows how individuals crave the approval and disapproval of others behind the protection of a screen, but a relatively benign one nonetheless.
Here is the plot twist. The antagonist being an infamous entity which most social network users would be all too familiar with: screenshots. No doubt a teenager’s life is full of complications, with issues ranging from capricious friendships to shaky notions about life and their own place in the world. But this ‘antagonist’ has been misused in the most heinous of ways.
First, let’s remember the stigmas attached to teens today: men should be insensitive psychopathic creatures incapable of feeling anything too ‘senti’ (sentimental) or ‘emo’ (emotional). And of course, if they secrete a certain liquid from their eyes then every ounce of manliness shall be taken away from them. Women, on the other hand, are given a choice, though not one which makes their plight any better. They can either be the rebellious feminist going against every conventional practice of our society, or they can be the typical family girl who will never be treated as more than a roti-making machine and housewife.
You may be wondering where screenshots come into this. Well, as shocking as it may seem, boys do feel. Boys do, dare I say it, cry. And that girl who roams around in a pair of jeans and button-down may yearn for the domestic life. But when your friend screenshots your display of emotion or thought and circulates it amongst your social circle, then that little valour that you had to actually be and show your true self is shattered.
Words once spoken can remain secret no more. It starts with one. A single individual we share that confidential information with. A single contact to which we send that screenshot. While you send it, you make the other person swear and promise that they’ll keep it to themselves but you conveniently forget how you yourself had made a similar pact before. A solemn pact which you were betraying at that moment.
It’s about how the sheer pervasiveness of social media and the easily accessible communication in our lives can mould a teenager’s life as a whole.
Teenagers are not the most mature creatures to roam the earth. Hence they feel as if their issues in life are eternal and unsolvable. They easily sink into the depths of despondency and depression. And that is one major reason why drug usage and teenage suicides happen. These ‘fresh’ adolescents find no other way out because their feeble hearts are unable to bear the burdens that their life imposes on them.
Be thoughtful, be caring. Let us not brush these issues under the label of ‘irrelevant teenage dramas’ and address them for what they are. And to those of you going through such troubled times, I say, you are not alone. You are more brilliant than you can even begin to fathom.