Have you ever scrolled your social media handles and feel a pang of jealousy when you read your friends’ posts, photos and status? Do you sometimes think that influencers and the insta-famous have perfect lives? Do feel the need to constantly check your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat?
These are common behaviours all of us are guilty of. Malaysia has finally entered the ‘First World’ problems.
Recently, I was watching @cupcake_aisyah’s rant on how she has been feeling lately regarding social media. She conveyed that she is losing numbers on Instagram and she can’t understand why some people are obsessed with growing their fan base. Girl, you really need numbers for sponsorships, partnerships and brand collaborations.
However, she did make a great point from a netizen’s perspective. People seem to take it too far, commenting on how perfect her life is and how they want to kill themselves because their lives are so messed up.
And that got me thinking, how messed up some of us are because of the internet. We get carried away with posts, become addicted to the fantasy that social media provides and over-idolise the insta-famous without realizing that they are humans too.
Sometimes, we forget that things on social media may not be real. I mean, I do too. I admit that I get caught up and become envious of others – even though that is utterly ridiculous to feel that way!
Let me give you an example. I have a friend, he posts about how he lives his life on Instagram like we all do – what he eats, where he goes, and what he does. Little did we all know he is having a tough time with the family. His mother had suffered from the stroke which disrupted the family dynamics. There was no indication whatsoever about his struggles on his social media.
I’m sure you also know someone who is having a tough time but does not post it on social media. Are we kidding ourselves here? Are we not being true to ourselves or do we actually want to keep the nasty things away from the public eye? Or are we taking our social media too seriously?
Let’s be real for once here: the big world of internet has its perks but it can do some damage too.
Damage 1: From a netizen point of risks, too much social media may distort our sense of reality, causes emotional problems, makes us less creative, causes ungratefulness, promotes narcissism.
In extreme cases, too much of internet may lead or may influence Hikikomori, a Japanese coined term which refers to a mental disorder where the patient shuns from society in totality and prefers to spend more than 12 hours on the Internet.
Damage 2: From an influencer point of risks, too much social media may lead to intrusion of privacy by fans, emotional problems, over-public scrutiny, and many more!
In extreme cases, a person in the position of immense power and status may become too depressed and commit suicide. Examples include Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, Tony Scott and Marilyn Monroe. Celebrities with increased popularity are prone to suicide as their social mobility and social integration combined with public scrutiny become more and more limited.
Public scrutiny also may cause fans and haters to freely give their comments about celebrities. We almost forget that celebrities are humans too, and they do have their feelings, and as humans, they will sometimes make mistakes. I mean, no one is perfect!
I observed that people may be too judgemental of others, we tend to think that A leads to B but in reality, A + B – C X 2D / CD leads to an action. The equation to explain human behaviour is always complex and multi-faceted. It’s our biases that like to simplify things.
We need to remember that people are unique with unique experiences and one size does not fit all. We need to stop over-generalizing our perceptions and assumptions onto others.
How can we ensure that we become responsible adults in the social media world? Maybe, before we comment or share about anything, ask ourselves: What purpose will it do? Does it harm anyone? Is it worth commenting or sharing? Will it hurt anyone’s feelings?
And, how do we become mentally healthy adults in the social media world? Simple: learn to be grateful for what we have. Psychologists have determined that gratitude is a significant predictor of happiness and well-being. Be grateful for your life and don’t compare yourselves with your peers. Your journey and theirs are different and will never be the same.
Also, once in a while, put that phone away and enjoy life without gadgets and technology! Scheduling a social media detox once a month or once in two months will do you some good.
With the advent of social media, consumers are gaining even more power day by day. But, let’s use our voice for good, shall we?