As we confine ourselves to our houses during the pandemic, our screen time has increased. In order to fight the boredom, social media and humans have created various ways. These days, nobody denies the importance of social media, but just as it has a good side, I want to address another issue that has a very intimate relationship with social media — ‘productivity’.
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines being productive as “yielding results, benefits, to the satisfaction of wants or the creation of utility.” As a society, we are conditioned to be ‘productive’. For example, we must work hard, we must build our skills, we must do things. And because of these beliefs, we consider ourselves a failure if we can’t reach society’s expectations of productivity. I realised how this idea is so deeply embedded in our minds that we end up doubting ourselves because of how this idea of productivity is shown on social media.
During this lockdown, many people started posting their daily work routine on social media. Many people started creating challenges and posting pictures of it. Some of them started learning new skills, a few others enrolled themselves in some courses. And after watching people’s feed on the social platform, I started doubting myself. I started feeling ‘unproductive’. I started calling myself ‘lazy’ just because I was not learning something new!
But then I realised the idea of being productive is very subjective. Being productive also means having the satisfaction of your wants, and if staying at home or spending quality time with family gives me pleasure and a feeling of fulfilment then, why do I have to consider myself “unproductive”? In this way, those who do not ‘contribute’ to the economy will be considered worthless. Take, for example, a person with a disability who might not be doing conventional work, and therefore cannot contribute to the economy. Will that person be considered as worthless? Absolutely not!
They should be valued just as much as anyone else on this planet, but unfortunately, they are not. Being a good friend, being there for your loved ones during the pandemic, or spending some time with yourself might be someone’s idea of productive, and that is fine. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to what we understand as being productive. I believe it’s important to reflect on our own ideas of being productive, and try to “unlearn” society’s perception of productivity.
The reason why this obsession of being productive should be addressed is because of the fact that increased screen time, increased time on social media, and this continuous comparison that we subconsciously make with others in the social media world has a negative impact on our mental well-being. It’s also important to understand the fact that not everyone is privileged enough to afford the conventional idea of being productive, and this comparison, which emerges from this productivity obsession, might induce stress and have a negative impact on our mental health.
Therefore, I believe, the conventional idea of “being productive” does not define your self-worth. So, let’s normalise the idea that we are as productive when we are being there for our friends, or spending time with our family, as we are when learning new skills.