by Mohammad Saad, BMS’24
Social media, “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking” said the internet. But do they? Studies have shown that people who spend a lot of time on social media are at least two times more likely to feel socially isolated. Why is that? Let’s get into it.
In the early 21st century, social media started as a tool to connect people with each other, to make more friendships, with geography no longer being a boundary and, over the years it has evolved a lot. But was it for good?
Let us look at the mechanism of social media posts. People share stuff only when they are having a good time, when they are with their friends, on their vacation, or eating out. And look at you, when you are watching that post, you are probably sitting in your room alone, with assignments on your head, about to order that same tiffin you have been ordering for a year. The same situation is with most of the people. People glimpse into the good parts of other people’s lives, while they are having a bad time, and then loathe themselves.
Let me give you a personal example of how the world of social media is so much different from reality. In the Covid days, at the time of online education, all the interaction among students was online. People seemed to have made so many friends on WhatsApp, they used to talk a lot among themselves. But, as the college reopened, I noticed one thing, people who used to talk a lot on WhatsApp, stayed quiet in the college and some people who did not talk much on WhatsApp made many friends in college and talked a lot.
This made me realize how different the world of social media is from the real world. In the history of humankind, people had always feared something, maybe of another tribe attacking them, of carnivore animals, of dying from hunger, etc. But, welcome to the 21st century, We as a specie have developed a new fear, Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). A study shows that 56% of people are afraid of missing out on events, news and important status updates if they are away from social media. With this, not only are they unable to enjoy their own life, but also forget to express gratitude for what they have. And this is a very dangerous thing, because this will never end, no matter how well-off they become in their life, there will always be a bigger fish in the pond.
I believe you must be aware of the fact that there’s a team of psychologists sitting behind the curtains, developing algorithms to make you stick to the platform as much as they can. Things are so out-of-hands that we close Instagram just to open it the next second! Your finger automatically moves to the icon. You are so addicted to those constant dopamine hits that you can’t enjoy anything else in your life. No wonder you don’t feel like having a nice talk with your parents, when you can watch Shorts/Reels for 2 hours straight! New video every 20 seconds, Infinite scroll = Infinite dopamine.
And then people talk about having Social Anxiety. Well, to get rid of it, you have to face more social situations. Go and try socializing with people more, talk to them in person. Chatting with them online won’t help. Also, Social Media is being used as a measure to ‘escape’ from the hardships of life, just like other dopamine generating tools like alcohol, weed, etc. Instead of trying to cope-up and face a situation, people resort to these things to ‘escape’ them, but they will have to face the consequences one day, which in turn, makes them depressed. The difference with Social Media is just that it’s free and without any restrictions.
I am no different than any, In the name of keeping up with posts and stories my friends put up, I succumb to checking notifications and go down the rabbit hole of scrolling. I do use social media, but I am actively trying to minimize its usage as much as possible, this article marks a public announcement of my frustration with my overuse of social media. I suggest you do the same, try finding excitement in the ‘real’ things. I promise you will be much more happy & satisfied than before. Greatness is coming for all of us!