Mayhem of the Virtual World

While the world is currently busy debating over the latest Whatsapp update and whether or not should it have added the new ‘status’  option which is strikingly similar to that of Snapchat and Instagram. The updates which are supposed disappear after 24 hours, I wonder what further does Mark Zuckerberg or media developers have in store to create greater buzz and more of maelstrom among the youth population of the world. To begin with, tell me how many of you ponder about the number of likes you got on you last status update or on your profile picture which you made sure was clicked by a DSLR and you posed candidly? Are you caught up in the frenzy of clicking pictures every other hour to ensure that you have enough material to ‘snapchat’ it your friends? Do you worry about the number of followers you have on your Instagram account?

Well, presuming your answers to be a ‘yes’,  it is a sad truth that so many of us have been caught up in the tangled web of social media and networking that we often base all the love, care, concern, and attention  on the number of likes, comments, and shares that we get on the things that we post or the number of times people send us a ‘snap’ back!  Today, we have completely ignored the fact that the world which we create in the virtual space is not our real world, but merely a manifestation and a filtered version of our jarring realities which we do not want others to see for some or the reason known to no one else but to us. To say the very least social media does manage to stir up many emotions, sadness and jealousy being the two of the most common ones among others on an average. You know how easy it is to accidentally unfriend someone? And do you know how much it can hurt to find out that you’ve been unfriended? It could have been a slip of the mouse that caused a buddy of yours to delete you off his friend list, but it can have devastating effects.

Social-Media-and-depression.jpg

While most of us would agree with the fact that social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram among others to name are means by which we can stay connected with friends, family and other around the world, you probably won’t agree that replacing the real, face-to-face world with virtual, screen-to-screen world is an ideal option. However, the irony is, that we are not only constantly trying to replace the real world with this virtual world but we also try and limit our interaction or meet-ups based on these platforms by increasing the amount of time we spent sharing, chatting, reading or surfing these sites! Sharing a personal experience –

Not only I used to keep checking my profile every now and then after updating it, to see how many likes came on my picture, cross check whether a particular person liked it or not and so on but also felt disappointed when my pictures  failed to get 100 likes, when most of my friends used to generally hit the 200+ mark.

Yes, feeling low for not getting desired response on your status/picture does seem to be a very trivial matter to really worry about however the truth is that in a long run it actually becomes quite bothersome because it affects one psychologically.

Other platforms like Tinder, SKOUT, and KIK  also have their own shares in creating a mayhem in the virtual world. Yes, it is indeed a lot of fun being on Tinder. Swipe right, swipe left and find your perfect match, then sex-chat and probably even hook up (if you are that lucky or pro) but haven’t sites like these produced ripples in your other relationships? “What you see is what you get.” does not apply here. It is in a way paralyzing your social skills and ability to read body language at the cost of making out with someone or fixing a meet over the phone while you could have done the same, probably in a bar or nightclub! 441090-facebook-addiction

Just like anything else in the world, even social media has two sides of the same coin, positive and negative, we generally have a tendency to acknowledge only the pros and overlook the cons even when they affect us gravely. In this world, which is always hungry for fame and being surrounded by paparazzi, there’s very little that our Facebook accounts provide us with. Not only we get saddened when we don’t see a particular name on the list of likes on our statuses but also we tend to get depressed when we see others posting pictures of their lives, of parties, friends, food, abroad visits, etc. The prime cause of which is, all of us have hopes and desires to live a lifestyle that we have always dreamt. Somehow or the other, not all of us are that lucky that we get everything we had hoped for and sometimes even if we do, it probably isn’t in the exact form in which we had expected it to be. Thus it makes you believe that everyone is happy, loved and cared except YOU. Whether we’re subconsciously comparing ourselves to others or feeling the sting of rejection, our emotions transcend the keyboard. Individuals who are socially insecure, have family issues, lack of peer groups, etc are more vulnerable to go through what the mental health experts call, ‘Social Media Depression’. Forbes had published a journal where it stated, “Facebook’s data scientists conducted a controversial human behavior experiment back in January 2012 where the News Feeds of 689,003 users were manipulated by having either all positive posts or the negative posts removed to see if it affected the moods of those users. It turns out the experiment worked as expected. Users that saw more negative content shared more depressing content and vice-versa.” Sharing another personal experience of mine –

There was a time when had I isolated myself completely from my friend group due to varied reasons and felt really miserable whenever I used to login to my Facebook account. Scrolling down pictures after pictures of my friends partying, enjoying themselves or catching up at a park or a restaurant used to upset me. I felt that my life really has nothing exciting to offer but to sit quietly in my room, carefully flipping the half-torn pages of my science book and hear the never ending lectures of my parents. I had stopped putting up anything on Facebook for a while even though couldn’t resist checking it ever now and then even when it hurted seeing others happy and smiling.

It was difficult to get out of that phase.  Later when I was emotionally stable, I decided to answer a pretty simple question which one of my friends had once asked me but I had kept numb for the reply, not on purpose but very honestly I did not have a very convincing answer to offer.   It wasn’t exactly easy to answer  – ‘Why do I use Facebook?’. It was then when I realized that how much of a mental pressure, the pressure to maintain the ‘set-image’ of oneself and the pressure to be perfect is generated by these networking sites. Very often than not, being ‘popular’ on social media becomes directly proportional to being popular even in the real life and those who want to be ‘popular’ among their social circle tend to make posts which would be taken as ‘cool’, defining ‘swag’ or keeping up with the ‘dude’ code by their friends. They forget to consider a great factor here that, not everyone is popular in real life because he/she is popular in the virtual world. In fact, for most of the time, it’s vice versa.

I think all of us irrespective of the fact that whether we have gone through a potential phase of social media depression or not, we should believe that all of us are unique and we all have our own shares of ups and downs at different times. At least I believed so and still do believe and trust me it becomes much easier after that to handle your emotional loneliness and feelings. While all of you may think that this is something you already know and can handle when it comes your way, the said state of being is so gloomy that you might see yourself tremble. What I suggest is to affirm yourselves. ‘Heal Your Mind: Your Prescription for Wholeness Through Medicine, Affirmations, and Intuition‘ by Louise Hay and Mona Lisa Schulz was a great help to me. You can also make use of this book or you may use Google to give you lists of free affirmations to practice. 

On an ending note, I enjoy every possible perk of being on social media but not at the cost of feeling lonely, conforming myself to fit into the group, compare myself and my life with that of others or put filters on my post to hide my real opinion, idea or thought.  I sincerely hope that even you all are able to deal with the mayhem of virtual world by Revelio-ing your true self – that is by Unveiling, Unleashing and Unfurling the person in YOU.

— Have a nice day!

Chaitanya Srivastava

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s