Does the fear of not having a good photo with that cool graffiti cause you much remorse? Or the photo with that scenic background? Or let’s say, your facial expressions don’t give you that one beautiful photo? Have you ever felt left out when you realise you are not in the clan of netizens who post the possibly best ‘candid’ pictures on their timeline? Pictures with their friends, parents, partners, about their trivial hangovers or probably hashtags like the recent ‘#untilnow‘ on Instagram?
Welcome to the world of virtuality and fantasy, the platform where reality is beautified, masked and presented on your timeline. The Cambridge English dictionary defines social media as websites and computer programmes that allow people to communicate and share information on the internet using a computer or mobile phone.
Social media has indeed been the biggest boon of the 21st century, bridging gaps and thousands of miles of distance in a few seconds; it is unimaginable to think of a world without it. It has helped in innumerable ways — connecting one’s loved ones, helping in education, healthcare, maintenance of law and order, business, advertising and reaching out for help, all in a matter of a few seconds.
Communication only makes things better, physically and emotionally. But on the flip side, the very same platform creates frenzy and a sense of detachment for many, especially amongst the youth of today.
With internet services now available to all at considerably cheap rates, the use of social media for the purpose of entertainment and leisure has become rampant. A lot of people, via different applications, now use it as a platform to showcase their lives in the most intricate and crisp manner. Not to say that this is bad, but studies have shown that over the years, there has been a change in the outlook of people towards social media. This is evident from the nature of posts on dominant social media websites.
Delving deeper, we find that the purpose of every social media application may at its face value seem different, but they all encourage the same thing — sharing. Share your life, your thoughts and everything you do, every day, to the masses out there. Well, this is not true for all users, but their count is minuscule as opposed to the rest.
The perils of oversharing cannot be overlooked and this is probably one of the most dangerous things about social media, not just in terms of privacy intrusion by unknown people, but also its social implications. With lots of people becoming impulsive to share everything about themselves, it only makes them more vulnerable, resulting in an infinite loop. Take, for instance, Facebook, Instagram and Tinder to name a few. A lot of people don’t find it uncomfortable to be friends with strangers or being followed by them. Interacting with them through chats with no physical conversation only makes us wonder, are we becoming comfortable with others prying into our private affairs?
The flashy photographs on Instagram are probably the most attractive thing for a youth. The angle and the lighting are packaged with the most beautiful captions, which are usually copied, to create a perfect blend and generate ‘My-My!’ reactions to the most trivial of things. All this at face value is not wrong, but it does affect many on a subconscious level, leading them to do the same and do more of it impulsively, until they feel detached from reality. We are busy making modifications to that reality and capturing the ‘moment’.
The structure of social media is what generates fear. For instance, Snapchat encourages its users to share the most trivial moments of their daily lives, moments with friends to maintain a streak. The number of followers, likes, reactions and comments posts generated on Instagram and Facebook are a cause for anxiety amongst many who aim to achieve the benchmark of being social-savvy. Another element that is peculiar is the way we communicate now. A lot of people are increasingly resorting to communicating only through chats and do not prefer a face-to-face conversation or a call.
Social media platforms such as Tinder have changed the way people now look at relationships. Adhering to the norms followed by netizens, everyone should have, at the very least, the best display picture and their bios must be perfect to catch anyone’s eyes, lest one is swiped left!
Social media has seen a paradigm shift in its usage; from professional to private utility, the landscape says it all. Social media is crucial for propagation of information, but certainly, the way it has wired and programmed the youth to succumb to countless disorders poses the question: are we being too personal online, but not offline?
Have emojis become more expressive than our raw expressions? The importance of having conversations physically and living in the moment is slowly fading away and subconsciously affecting us all. Our patterns of emotions have changed, and so have our definitions of who makes a good friend and who is the most active.
Social media is a facade of distorted emotions, where likes are seen as an acknowledgement, love emojis as being important, and followers as well wishers. So, use social media wisely, cautiously and happily!