With over 680 million internet users,
India is the second-largest internet consumer and by 2025 will surpass China to take the top spot.
With the increased internet connectivity, the social media users are growing at an alarming rate with currently more than 350 million people in India are on various social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. whereas if you look at the world, this number is close to 3 billion people. In India this is mainly due to the low cost of data packages available, probably one of the cheapest in the world especially after the entrance of Jio Company in 2017 and India’s heavy focus on ‘Digital India’.
When we call this generation being the most connected generation, we don’t actually mean that we are connected but instead we are ‘digitally’ connected with fake emotions, comparing lifestyles, not actually talking to our friends, suffering anxiety, etc. So, what is the role of social media in this? Well, here is a list of reasons why you should quit social media platforms to lead a healthy and better life.
According to one survey, Indians spend around 2.4 hrs per day on social media and this figure has only grown up since the lockdown, in March, with Indians spending around 4 hrs just on social media platforms mostly on Facebook and Instagram. When Facebook was created in 2004, it was just made for the Harvard students to interact with each other and later with students from different colleges/universities and for sharing photos. By 2009, Facebook came up with the “Like” button and completely changed the social media platforms. People became obsessed with likes; they started having competition online about who gets the most likes on their profile picture. The creators of social media come up with different means to make their apps more addictive like coming up with different filters, follow buttons, likes, tags, sharing your location, polling system, etc. Heck, I’ve seen people having polls on social media about who has better display pictures! All for the sake of getting more likes and attention. This obsession of showing what you are eating, where you are traveling, which music concert you are at, makes you stick your heads on to your mobile screen and missing out on your surroundings. How many times have you seen your friend in a restaurant clicking 10-15 pictures of the meal to show it online and selecting the best one to post online? Or making a story to show which music concert they are at instead of actually enjoying the moment? You get a little dopamine burst whenever you get a notification or alike on a picture or a follow request. But those things are addicting without being satisfied. Teens, thus, spend hours and hours scrolling, trolling, texting, you name it. Next time you are blamed for not having “enough time” remember that you spent nearly 17 hrs. a week on just social media and think about what all you could have accomplished at that time.
Anxiety and Depression:
“The less you are connected with human beings in a deep, empathic way, the less you’re really getting the benefits of social interaction,” points out Alexandra Hamlet, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. “The more superficial it is, the less likely it’s going to cause you to feel connected, which is something we all need.” A study done in 2017 showed that between the years 2010-2015, the depression rates among youths went up by 33%, while the suicide rates of girls increased by 65%. The rise of depression-related symptoms correlates with the coming of Smartphones and only rising because of the growing popularity of social media sites. People are pretending that they are having an amazing life, comparing their looks and accomplishment with others and when you don’t get the level of attention you were looking for online, you tend to get depressed and anxious. I once read about a teenager who committed suicide because of depression and when the psychologists observed his Facebook or Instagram profile, they saw that no one would have the slightest idea that he was suffering from depression. That’s how social media life fools you about the lives of others. It creates a fake persona of a make-believe world. This has been observed in girls that they tend to bombard posting their photos at exotic locations, showing how good everything is going in their life which makes the other person seeing this to hate their own life by comparing it to the one posting it. And not to forget, that girl probably spent hours clicking pictures, then finding the best to post and then adding filters and captions, all for the sake of getting attention, validation, and likes. These days, teens are looking for getting accepted by their peers and thus, are carrying a burden of having a good image in front of others, especially online, as if they are running for an election. Just look at the polling system on social media. Even without social media, we like having a good image, but since the arrival of social media, it creates a false sense of perfectionism which they see by the posts of some Instagram models or a celebrity thus lowering your self-esteem.
- Less focus: Remember there was a time when you used to spend hours reading a book or making a painting or learning a new skill or language? With the coming of social media, you probably have lost your level of patience and your power to focus. It is solely because today’s generation is focusing on ‘completing the work’ rather than ‘doing it perfectly’ as people are more engaged in the habit of multitasking and juggling several things at once. I’ve observed how my friends go from checking their emails to liking a meme on Instagram to post a tweet (about a topic they have no knowledge about) on twitter to updating their wall on Facebook to sending a snap at Snapchat… all in 5 minutes. Our brain is made to concentrate only on one task at a time and jumping from one social media app to another or even from one task to another, filling it with useless information only makes you less focused on important tasks like studying or learning a new skill. There is a reason why successful athletes like Messi and Ronaldo, Bruce Lee, Mohammad Ali or Filmmakers like Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, or Scientists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Newton, Einstein, etc. attained near perfectionism in their fields by putting all their focus and energy in doing one task, i.e. Their work. You might have observed how students these days constantly check their social media feeds during a class or doing their homework. It completely shatters all the efforts they are putting on their homework. This is because every time you get a notification, you get a burst of dopamine in your brain. And yes, the same Dopamine which is released when you take in any Narcotic drug or alcohol. Teens these days tend to check their mobile phones before sleeping which leads to unhealthy sleep patterns and sleep deprivation. You intend to check Instagram for just 5 minutes and the next thing you know is you’ve spent around an hour gazing at your mobile screen.
- Fake emotions:
This is pretty common when you see couples arguing in real life but on social media, they’ll pretend and post their photos as if they were just made for each other. This creates a sense of fake relationships with your friends, peers, etc. because in real life you know that you are having problems but on social media, you need to post good pictures of you to tell everyone how good your life is going, just for the sake of likes and attention. I’ve seen stupid pages on couples who are living in a perfect wooden cabin fooling people to think that this is what a good relationship looks like and makes you question yours. If Aliens ever saw your Instagram feed, they would probably think how happy everyone is on Earth and there is no problem here. People don’t really enjoy being with other people and as social beings, this is not how we were supposed to grow. We live in a society and need to interact and show emotions; otherwise, what is the difference between you and a machine? People in the electronic world are more disconnected than they realize. We don’t share bonds with others, are constantly looking for appreciation online, text instead of call, spend too much time on social media, and missing out on the real world, we are too depressed, less focused, and too superficial.
- Fear of missing out (FOMO):
The most popular argument I hear about not quitting social media is that you will miss out on great things. Now please tell me, if a thing is important wouldn’t it come in the newspaper the next day with detailed analysis? You can watch a match analysis of the experts after the match and observe their analytical skills instead of seeing a post made by a person you don’t even know has a knowledge of the game. Fake news and hatred are spreading like wildfire in today’s time because people have developed a habit of taking a post from a social media platform to be a Gospel truth. You see a post targeting someone, or news, and without analyzing whether it is fake or genuine, people start sharing it like anything. This leads to time-wasting arguments in the comment section because someone doesn’t like your favorite celebrity or doesn’t agree with the new government policy. You take it as a personal insult and jump right in to take that person down. The reason why I find this to be one of the most stupid arguments against quitting social media is the only thing you’ll miss being offline is fake relationships, memes, trolling, and hatred and pop-cultural references. Instead, subscribe to good newspapers as those are the things you should not miss on.
We humans were never meant to sit at one place scrolling through memes, seeing a stupid post about what a celebrity wore at the Grammy. We are meant to go out and perform physical activities. I don’t mean to make you guys build a body of a boxer, but you should not become lethargic because of your social media usage. Teens these days prefer to sit inside their home using phones and comparing their life to others instead of going out and taking care of their body and mental state. The growing level of obesity, anxiety, and depression is closely associated with your habit of social media usage. As said earlier, you are spending around 2 hours on social media daily. Think of the exercise or sports you can play in that period. Start meditation in the morning or praying, faith is a powerful thing and makes you calmer from inside
This is the last point I want to share and I bet many of you might have already experienced a hate comment for your different opinion on a subject in the news. Students are more susceptible to this as they tend to abuse, mock, or make comments they would not likely make in front of the other person. The result of cyberbullying can be mentally scarring for life as a study shows that more than 87% of young people being a victim of this act have resulted in developing social anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, a sense of isolation and even eating disorder, especially in kids. However, among other things, another sad part about cyberbullying is that person doing it doesn’t even know he is committing cyberbullying or won’t even admit it. How many of you have seen people cursing a footballer on their post for missing a penalty while he is playing the match? If a celebrity or a person posted something online to which people don’t agree, they have been seen making racist remarks or commenting on rape threats to them or body shaming or any other vulgar comment to that person or to their family. So tell me, how does that make you any better than them? For the parents, I would suggest you keep the phone away from your kids and you should also focus on your family rather than the virtual world you are living in. I’ve seen couples posting lovely pictures of them on social media but hesitate to say “I Love You” to their partner. And as I mentioned cyberbullying is a dangerous thing and should not be overlooked. Till recently I was running a football fan page on Instagram with around 31,000 followers and had already deactivated my personal account. So, the only social media I was using was Instagram with the view that I love football and like to share my views on the game or the players. But when I saw that I was checking my Instagram constantly when there is a game going on, I knew that I was spending too much time on it for nearly 1 hour. Per day. So finally, without putting up any story of deactivating my account, I deleted Instagram with a sigh of relief.
Since deleting all my accounts from social media platforms on 02/06/2020 (I know it hasn’t been long) it looks like I have added several hours into my daily routine. I have started to feel more positive about myself, I’m learning new skills, I’m being more observant and I’m finally getting more time for reading books which I was not able to do for a while. If given a chance to advise my younger self, among the first couple of things I’ll definitely include “Don’t be on social media,” You’ll miss amazing things happening around you, miss on great personalities to look up to, create an unhealthy lifestyle of isolation, comparison, and jealousy. You won’t miss anything in your life by not being on social media except for stupid memes, pop-cultural references, and the fake perfect world these platforms provide you.
For my dear readers who fear a life without social media, I would suggest you to take up a 30-day challenge. Deactivate from all social media platforms for 30 days, ‘without telling anyone or putting up stories,’ then observe the changes you see in yourself. You’ll realise that all the time you were putting up stories of what you were doing or eating, nobody cared, people won’t even realise that you have deleted your social media. The time you used to spend scrolling and sharing memes all day, spend that time with yourself. I bet because of all the time you were on social media, you were not able to read that book you always wanted to or learn that football skill you loved to see people do or make that drawing of your favourite superhero or write an adventure story you always had an idea for or learn a new language. Embrace the boredom. Come up with ideas. Watch interviews of great personalities who helped or are helping in shaping the world for good, watch Ted Talks, read about history, and start meditation or prayer in the morning. You will be surprised by what you are missing out on and what you are capable of doing. Good luck.
P.S: I’m not asking you to permanently delete your social media, because it can be used for businesses, important announcements, etc. but taking a break from social media will make you realize that there are tons of useless stuff online which do not help you grow to your best self. If after completion of 30 days break you still want to join social media for your business, etc, it’s fine. Just make sure you aren’t scrolling memes all day like you used to.