Let’s talk about The Social Media Mania, today. Currently, the fascination toward the social media platforms is at its peak and the unreal world being created by several influencers is taking even kids on imaginary journeys to the fantasy world. Leaving out some creators, the picture being depicted on the social media platforms are just an illusion compared to their real lives. We contacted Psychologist and Senior Counsellor from LISSUN (lissun.app), Chinmayee Aphale, clears the air about the issue.
The Social Media Mania
By Chinmayee Aphale
Social media fascination is now seen across different age groups and is surely becoming a way of life, so you can’t skip it completely. Period! COVID has surely been a game changer in this situation where overnight everything has been taken over by the digital platform…. and has surely resulted in dependence and fascination toward social media at the same time, which surely has taken away the balance.
Effective Means of Communication
During the COVID-19 outbreak, social media platforms have played a very important role in helping people stay connected and even offer leads during emergency crisis situations. Social media is arguably one of the quickest and most widely used forms of communication that people rely the most on. It provides instant and easy communication and also an effortless exchange of GIFS, videos, audio files, documents and so much more. Like any other built, social media also has its own fair share of polarizing pros and cons.
Credibility of Information Sources
A lot of young adults all over the world have been born and brought up in the era of social media. They have seen it evolve and have also played an active role in its transformation through consumption and feedback. Thus, for them, it constitutes as the most usual way of lifestyle. Because of abundantly available information from different sources, people find it easier to do the problem assessment. In a country like India where certain topics like sex, mental illness, etc. have a lot of stigma and taboo attached to them; adolescents, by default, find it easier to rely on virtual sources to gather information. The authenticity and credibility of these sources still remains a major challenge for all of us.
It’s quite ironic that some of the aspects which social media sites bank on, become the very aspects that, in the long term, can be harmful for an individual. It could very well be called a double-edged sword. For example, the virtual world is an excellent getaway for people who are bored of the mundane and monotonous routine. It provides a much-needed break and distraction. But one needs to be mindful of how long they’re staying online in that virtual world for. Because this getaway, if not moderated, can soon become an escape from reality and a way to avoid facing and dealing with real emotions.
Fear of Missing Out
More teens and adolescents are reporting increased time spent on social media platforms checking out influencers, celebrities and following trends in order to stay relevant and avoid Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). We can also see anonymity as one of the things that people find safe and helpful when they want to express themselves but at the same time, we have also seen it leads to trolling, hacking of accounts, online harassment and cyberbullying and cyber threats.
Virtual Reinvention of Personality
Social media also offers us an opportunity to reinvent ourselves virtually. Since there is no physical presence involved, one can choose what aspects of one’s life to showcase and how to showcase it. The reel and real life can sometimes contradict a lot. The reel life is portrayed in a way that can invite maximum attention, validation and instant gratification. It is the easiest way through which one can comment about things and express themselves without having to do much in real life. This, again, has both advantages as well as disadvantages. It unconsciously sets some sort of a yardstick for people to achieve.
Social Comparison and Depression
One of the major disadvantages is the social comparison and a falsely induced sense of inferiority, it evokes within an individual. For teenagers, who are still trying to learn their identities and orient themselves in the world, it can be very challenging and isolating. One of the research projects conducted by Pantic, et al. in 2012, shows a positive correlation between time spent on social media and presence of depressive symptoms in high school students. Another research conducted by Lup K, Trub L and Rosenthal L in 2015, also suggests that the frequent use of social media app Instagram has negative associations for people, who follow more strangers on Instagram.
It is also a matter of time till an individual starts falling prey to the algorithms and carefully crafted target ads. Since there is so much content out there and so many options to choose from, individuals, especially young adults, feel this constant social pressure to be up to the mark and keep up with things that are trending.
One of the ways through which we can prevent these things from taking over our mental health is through taking a social media break or what is now known as social media detox. De-activating your social media accounts and going offline for a specific period of time have been found to be extremely helpful and relaxing for a lot of individuals. It provides a much-needed reflective period for you to be able to think clearly without having to worry about the next notification pop-up. Just watch out that your social media fascination is not turning into social media addiction!
Read more: Be There For Your Children