The most common sites nowadays in homes as well as at public spaces are people with their necks bent and eyes focused on the screen of their mobile phones. Though not the only but a major portion of the screen time is devoted to the social media applications like Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram. The invention of social media is considered to be a blessing as it has enabled us to overcome the greatest barrier to communication- distance. We can now chat with our friends or relatives thousands of kilometers apart in a matter of seconds. But we often tend to overlook the vices associated with social media. It has been found in several studies that excess use of social media is linked with higher levels of anxiety and depression.
Focusing first on the brighter side, the apps like Instagram and Facebook have provided a platform for the unheard to speak. The marginalized and the minority section, whose views are often suppressed by the mainstream media, is able to mobilize the public opinion by using the social media. With family members moving apart nowadays due to jobs or studies, using these applications the people can still keep in touch without bearing the humungous bills of the telecom services. Also newer job opportunities have also accompanied with the social media, the most remarkable being that of the content creators. If nothing, social media has become the best pastime for people especially the younger generation (who get easily bored of anything except Instagram).
Now coming to the part which is less often appreciated adequately by people. The social media usage has significant adverse affects on our mental health and wellbeing. These apps have become platforms for social comparison, the people inculcate a feeling of inferiority complex seeing the ones who are better off in looks,wealth etc. Another stressor on social media is the “social currency” in terms of likes,comments and shares which have introduced a number game for judging the person. Seeing others being a part of an event or an opportunity also causes FOMO which is actual social anxiety of being missed out. The menace of online harassment has come into significance too.
The social media in itself is neither good nor bad, rather just a tool to communicate. The dark side of social media is actually nothing but the dark side of the humans. What is required is actually the audit of our social diet i.e. what we see on social media. The duality of appearance and reality should be kept in mind and we should rationally analyze the content we watch on these platforms. It is the same Facebook and Instagram that can tear you up, harming your mental health as well as lift you up, having an actual LOL! It’s upto us what we want to chose.