“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.”
By nature, human beings are social creatures. To thrive the life and strengthen their connection, they need companionship. Today, to maintain or indulge in such co-dependence, everybody relies on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram. Social media plays have been found to play a very crucial and integral role in our everyday life. Social media has revolutionized individuals’ way of communicating and socializing among themselves, having a positive effect on their business, political views, etc. Earlier access to social media platforms was not easy as only those individuals could have access to it, who could afford computer sets, but today with modernization and increased affordability & better standard of living of people, everyone owns a smartphone and hence the access to social media tools have become very convenient. Social media platforms are designed to snare attention and keep people online for hours. But just like any other addiction like nicotine or alcohol or gambling, social media has become a psychological addiction. It’s been observed running social experiments that when a person receives a like or share or a comment which appeals to him/her, it releases dopamine in their brain. This is just like eating chocolate or lighting up a cigarette and this creates the loop, where one spends more and more time on these platforms to get rewarded and boost the ego.
Excessive use of social media platforms creates a vicious circle of unhealthy, negative, and self-perpetuating cycles. When a person feels lonely, depressed, neglected, stressed, or anxious, they seclude themselves from society and dwell into social media sites. It is often seen that people who are pro-active on several such sites, like Facebook or Instagram, suffer from ‘fear of missing out’ FOMO, which makes them feel neglected if their posts or pictures are not liked or commented by other users. This leaves them with a feeling of inadequacy and dissatisfaction. With the increasing trend of updating everything on social platforms, showcasing a perfect and blessed life or human relationships, it leaves several with an emotion rejection, increasing the sense of inferiority complex. The individuals are seen comparing their lifestyles, their social circle, or their equation with their parents or partners with what they see on their social media handles. All of this results in making them unrealistic, competitive and hence slipping into depression and anxiety.
While once, children used to look forward to enjoy playtime with their friends, today most of the children prefer sitting indoors with their iPad or smartphones, spending hours on Instagram or YouTube channel, disconnecting them from real-world and human interaction. Sadly, even if few teenagers go out with their friends, the addiction to social media has reached a point where they are either still found scrolling on their phones or posting every bit of their life on it. This habit of posting everything online to get appreciation and acceptance from society among children has unfortunately given rise to crimes like cyberbullying which has been seen having a worse effect on their psychology, also resulting in increasing rate of suicide.
It's important for us to understand that social media is a mode of information and not a tool that we should use to substitute our real life. Such a practice is not healthy. If one feels lonely or depressed, it's advisable to indulge in other things like music or sports. With children especially, physical activities should be encouraged for relieving the anxiety and stress they go through in their day-to-day life.