A social media addict once said to me, “It’s an addiction [that is] similar to smoking; the more you do it, the more you want to do it. The difference is that the more you’re online, the worst it is. Gradually, you block out the world, and it is impossible to separate yourself from the virtual reality.”
A girl I knew came across online as confident and attractive but in real life she was timid and shy. Here was somebody who boasted so many friends on her social media account but in real life was lonely and isolated. That’s the perfect reality of social media life! I call it ‘Insta lie.’
One survey I happened to read said, “Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough, as people add filters and edit their pictures in order to look ‘perfect’.” I believe social media has its pros and cons, depending on what you do when you’re online. I’ve seen people using it as an escape from reality. Spending a lot of time on Facebook, for instance, or Instagram, can lead to social isolation. It is also noticed that “the lonely seek solace in social media.”
I was lucky to have had an opportunity to be part of an insightful debate on social media and mental health issues in Pakistan. One of the members at the discussion pointed out, “Seeing friends constantly on holiday or enjoying nights out can make the young people feel like they are missing out on a lot in life.”
At the same event, a senior university professor of psychology mentioned studies that have suggested that young people who spend more than two hours a day on social networking sites are more likely to report some mental disorder. These are prompted by what the professor called “a compare and despair attitude.”
Researchers have found that loneliness ignored is not just physically painful in the long run, it can also lead to adverse medical complications. It is said to be worse for health than if you smoked 15 cigarettes a day; and deadlier than obesity. Issues that led to your loneliness ought to be addressed — seriously — before they begin to harm you. Loneliness ravages the immune system and makes body more susceptible to cancer, it can raise your blood pressure, tighten the arteries and, thereupon, contribute to heart diseases.
Nobody is often as happy as their Facebook “dp” (display picture) shows them. Facebook is a platform where people get a narcissistic pleasure by making an exhibition of the most charming aspects of their lives, while carefully editing out the humdrum.
When their everyday life upsets people, they are likely to retreat to ‘solitary’ spaces such as the myriad social networking sites. Being able to create a semblance of a happy life often gives them a nice ego boost, albeit temporarily. But in order to be happier for a longer time, a better solution is to avoid the ‘circus’ of social media and focus on your own life. I think we all should be more grateful for what we have instead of whining, complaining about petty things which we don’t have. That’s the good old remedy you’ve heard from your elders for ever — but it’s effective all right.
Sometimes, we need the reassurance that the seemingly better off people’s lives are also not perfect. That should happen once you remind yourself that all our Facebook friends have a side to their personality or life other than what they have exposed us to.