One must be living under a huge rock in today’s times if they still haven’t been touched by the benefits and the damaging effects of Social Media. Rural or urban, young or old, educated or uneducated, there isn’t any echelons or segment of society that doesn’t have Social Media as a major part of their lives these days. It is a ‘necessary evil’ that we all are constantly living with these days. There doesn’t seem to be any escape.
What is Social Media exactly, to put it out straight? A medium we have been so callously referring to in all our conversations and all day long. As per Oxford’s definition, Social Media is defined as the ‘collective websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.’ Easy, isn’t it? But no, not at all. Not in the least. Social Media has actually permeated the layers of our existential identity in ways that we didn’t even realize and is at the moment sharply attacking the very basics of our emotional and mental well-being.
Almost 10 to 12 years ago, no one could have predicted that a smartphone with all these Social Media applications would become the driving gear of our lives. Apps that are as easy as even a 5-year-old can download without a manual. Words like YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook need no introduction these days. It was fun in the beginning as we all loved a medium through which we could connect with our long-lost friends, establish some connections, network and also share some stories and happy moments from our lives. This was basically the intended purpose of these sites and apps in the beginning. But it all changed too soon.
With overbearing usage and an overdose of content, we are gradually coming to realize the consequential damaging effects of having these Social Media apps around us. I have listed a few of them below, because yes, I have been increasingly perturbed by these factors. As I write this, I am also constantly working towards limiting my time spend on Social Media and also to mitigate the impairing effects it may have on my holistic well-being. These are the factors we really don’t like about Social Media these days. Please feel free to add your own suggestion in the comments below. And, also do share your agreement or disagreement with any of the points mentioned here.
1. Too Many Social Media Platforms Out There – There are practically too many platforms there – YouTube, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok to name. The user interface is different for all of them, but the intent is the same. To connect with people and increase your popularity. It is the same content that keeps circulating on all of these channels. For content creators, it is tiresome and challenging to maintain their accounts on all of these and keep people engaged.
2. Overtly Saturated with Content Creators and Influencers – Social Media these days is an overcrowded marketplace wherein everyone is trying hard to sell their talent/ products/ services. There are too many so-called ‘influencers’ out there who are all ready to influence people without even having a full understanding of what the term entails.
3. Plagiarism is Widespread cross These Content Creation Platforms – It is still an unorganized sector and the rules around content creation are spoken but unlaid off. Anyone can easily copy your content and tag it as their own without giving you any credits. There is no way to conclude to whom the original content/ idea truly belongs.
4. Quick Rise to Fame Induces an Unreal Sense of Stardom – People with just a few followers and subscribers feel shot to fame almost instantly. They start considering themselves real celebrities who have every right to throw around weight and stamp authority. Just a video going viral or doing some brand collaborations doesn’t make you a star or an achiever. This short-lived sense of popularity and achievement can be very damaging to their sanity in the long term. No doubt, we have too many people touting themselves as Public figures and sensations on these platforms.
5. The Hard Work That is Behind Goes Unnoticed – People see the rise in the number of subscribers/ followers on these Social Media accounts. But what they cannot notice is the immense amount of hard work that goes behind it. It is years of dedication, sweat and work that go into making that content and creating a brand. So, before anyone says that creating content is a vain job and easy money, please think twice.
6. CyberCrime Is on the Rise and So Is Intrusion into One’s Personal Space – With all the information about an individual available through these social media handles, and also an insight into their personal life, it is easier than before to hack into their space. Cybercrimes, cyberbullying, trolling, everything is on a rise. Our lives are much more laid out to the world than ever before and even much more than needed.
7. Maddening Emphasis on Likes/ Followers/ Subscribers – If one’s social, and economic status quo wasn’t enough, now we have even started judging people and their talent on the sheer number of followers they might have on a particular Social media platform. The frenzy is maddening. Everyone around talks in the language of how many followers/subscribers you have. The surmounting pressure to increase the numbers is immense and the chase is driving each one of us crazy.
8. People are Losing Their Sanity over Keeping Up and Creating Likes-Worthy Content – It is disturbing to see the extents to which people these days are willing to go to create unique and like-worthy content. Some are really talented but a lot of them have gone to insane extremes to create content. Not to mention, people around the world have lost their lives to crazy Social Media challenges and trends. In a bid to get their content to go viral, people are actually losing the sense of discretion between right and wrong.
9. Trolling on These Social Media Platforms – With over 500 million eager people logging in every single day, Instagram attracts users, marketers, and brands from every corner of the internet. But as the platform’s popularity continues to grow so does the number of not so humble trolls on Instagram. People can get really mean and vent out their own frustrations and sick mindsets through their trolls and negative comments. The worst part, one would not even know who their trollers are as they might hide behind anonymous or fake accounts. How badly a troll can affect a person’s mental health is not new.
10. Connected over Social Media but Disconnected in Reality – Real relationships have been foregone. People are connected with millions of others on Social Media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, yet are very lonely in real life. You may have people to like on Instagram, yet no one you can talk your heart out to in real life. You might be a part of many WhatsApp groups, yet you might not have a single friend in real life, leave alone a group of friends. With the momentous barging in of Social Media in our lives, we have become far lonelier than before.
11. The Definition of Family and Friends has Blurred- We have actually lost the value of our close circle of people. Family members might be sitting in one room together, with everyone occupied with their own Social Media accounts. We have grown so distant that we don’t know what is going on in the lives of our immediate family members. We hardly check on our friends on a call, rather like and comment on their Social Media images. The world hasn’t become a smaller place, rather it has become a more distanced world.
12. People are Sharing Too Much of their Personal Lives on Social Media – As long as you are not someone with celebrity status, there is little chance that people would be interested in seeing what you ate for breakfast, if you brushed your teeth at night, how well you make your coffee and so on. There is an outpour of sharing on Social Media and after a point, it just loses both relevance and sense.
13. Lots of Misinformation and Misleading News is Propagated – This world of Social Media has made life tougher for us in equal parts as it has made it easier. It is so easy for people to spread fake and negative news. With no restriction on access to Social Media platforms, everybody can put themselves forth on a public platform if they just own a smartphone. With little or no knowledge and probably no sensibilities as well, everyone has got a fair chance to express themselves on a wider platform. This often leads to a lot of nuisance in society.
14. Mental Health and Peace Have Deteriorated like Never Before – Social Media has given us more reasons to be unhappy and dissatisfied with our lives than otherwise. Constantly looking at people portraying their fake, ’captured for the camera’ unrealistic lives, is leading us to fill a sense of void in our lives. We have turned into an unhappy lot cribbing about our average lives and yet portraying a fancy, smiling, ‘all is perfect’ fakeness on Social Media. Life has never felt so vain and meaningless before.
15. Mindlessly Copying Influencers and Following Trends – Such insane trends have come to light and gained popularity that no one in their right frame of mind would ever adopt. All it does is make us feel incompetent and unworthy in case we are unable to achieve them. There are unnecessary makeup looks, complicated hairstyles, hacks and trends that don’t make an iota of difference to human life. What common people fail to realize is that influencers are doing these hacks only because creating content is their work. Everything that they do doesn’t have to be tried or experimented with in real life.
16. Fake Standards of Beauty Have Been Unreasonably Glorified – It is for good reason for brands and content creators to hype unrealistic beauty as people are pushed into believing that they are lacking and flawed. This leads to an increase in their sales and products and this is how the industry works. A lot of girls and even grown-up women have fallen victim to believing that they are not good enough and developing a damaging self-esteem and inferiority complex. We need to stop promoting these unrealistic standards of beauty through the flood of makeup and beauty tutorials that are trending online. And girls need to realize that a lot of photoshop, edits, filters, ring lights and superior cameras are being used to create the kind of flawless visuals that are being created.
17. Content Creation and Consumption have reached a Saturation Point – The same Tiktok videos are being made, the same beauty filters are being used, same trending topics are being covered. Like in Lockdown there was a newfound madness over TikTok videos. Everybody was dancing to the same songs, saying the same dialogues. Everyone around discovered some latent baking skills and started making cakes. Dalgona coffee which was unheard of before came into the spotlight from nowhere. All this is just leading us to a maddening sameness and lack of individuality and nothing else.
18. Wastage of Time for Young Minds – A lot of time is wasted in consuming all that is there on Social Media, without having any sort of value addition. It is a mindless intake of content that interferes with our thought processes and even intelligence to some extent. For young minds, while they can utilize their time in more productive pursuits like reading, learning new passions, and playing sports, they worthlessly spend their time on Social Media.
We all know the downsides, yet we are still there. We cannot completely cut off Social media from our lives, but the most prudent way is to cut down our time on it. Develop more passions and areas of interest. Practice self-control and manage your time well.
We would love to hear your inputs in the comments below.
Till then, make a hobby and let it drive you.