The "All is Well" Social Media Trap!!!
After a long and tiring day in spite of being a weekend, trying to manage multiple fronts like household chores, taking care of a three year old and in between trying to steal time for things that interest me, as I sat back on my sofa and picked my phone , my eyes stopped at a post almost instantly. Mostly when I reach out for my phone to check social media apps, I end up scrolling quickly trying to read maximum in less time. My eyes hunt for a post that would either recharge my drained self or educate me about something new or at least leave me entertained. As of now I am primarily most active on Facebook though present on twitter, Instagram and linkedin too. Today as I opened my linkedin account a post by a stranger on which a friend of mine had commented appeared on my timeline and not only caught my instant attention but left me in admiration.
The post by lady was as follows-
‘I did not pass the CFA Level 1 June 2019 exam. I’m posting this because its inherent in every passing candidate to post their very well-deserved achievement. But if you worked hard, clocked in the 300+ study hours and survived the sleepless nights, and still did not pass, then it’s okay. Social networks need the full picture so here I post my result. This is only the beginning & I’m definitely not giving up!’
How many times do we get to see a brave post like this? Rarely, isn’t’ it? This post took me to my discussion with my spouse the other day. Well, life comes with its share of struggles and pain for everyone and it was one of those days where we were feeling helpless and frustrated unable to take things forward the way we would wish to. To refresh our mind as we sat next to each other scrolling the social media app, together we deliberated how everyone else’s life was so perfect. My timeline was full of posts of friends posing with happy selfies, friends vacationing at dream places, new parents having a blast of a time with their babies, or others simply basking in the glory of professional achievements.
Is it we only who are lagging behind unable to make time for things we love? Is there something wrong in how we have scheduled our life? Time is flying and are we the only ones missing out on all the fun of life? Such questions thronged our mind making us more restless and unhappy with our present situation.
Has this ever happened with you that your social media timeline instead of boosting your mood, made you feel as if you are lagging behind in the societal definition of success? I asked this question to a group of friends and the answers were enlightening. I got mixed answers to it. Friends who were having a stable life pursuing what they wanted and were happily sharing it on social media experienced a boost in their self-esteem when it was appreciated by those in their friend lists. Those of the ladies who were leading a satisficing life unable to chase their passions because of responsibilities at home front, felt more depressed after scrolling their timeline. Strangely the latter were still more addicted to social media and could not resist checking their phone every other hour.
Well each of us wishes for a perfect life forgetting that the imperfections make life perfect and beautiful. However, the tendency of the majority of social media users to share only their good and best moments creates a trap. I call this a trap because everyone is busy projecting ‘all is well’ rather ‘all is perfect’. Unlike the movie 3 idiots where the actor gives this message to his heart and mind that ‘all is well’ as a means of reassurance; in social media all are busy in telling this to the world.
This form of selective sharing is temporarily good for the person sharing it but when majority follow this rule of presenting themselves and their life as perfect, guess what happens? It arouses feelings of inadequacy in those busy struggling in balancing the hum drum of somewhat monotonous yet essential everyday life. Hence when I came across this linked in post on my timeline, I could not resist appreciating it. After all social media needs the whole picture! Applauds to this brave post!
I don’t intend to say that we need to rant about all the mis happenings and negative incidents of our life on social media. How many of us would like to read such posts is another question in a world where the majority is craving for entertainment -entertainment and entertainment! Just I want to say that next time when you scroll through your timeline be aware of this ‘all is well’ trap and beware of comparing your life with others.
If you are using social media for reconnecting with friends, promoting your work, to release boredom when free, to follow your interest or hobbies it can benefit you in ways more than one. However if you are using it to portray an image of your ideal self, looking forward to your ego being smothered by responses of people to your posts or using it as a self-validating tool by unconsciously comparing yourself to others -you are in for trouble! There are chances it may then lead you to a negative self-reflection, constant distraction, lower self-esteem, poor concentration and the dreaded social anxiety disorder. Yes, social anxiety disorder where media heightens user anxiety by causing a pervasive apprehension that they are probably missing out on something extremely critical. This anxiety often labelled as FOMO(Fear of missing out) has been associated with lower mood and life satisfaction.
So friends, while internet may have successfully carved its place in the basic needs category of Maslow’s hierarchy for many of us and the desire for a ‘hit’ of social media dopamine continue to distract us -use it wisely lest you get used by it ! Next time when you sit leisurely thinking of what to do with your precious ‘me time’-why not think of other options ? Maybe picking a book, saying hello to a neighbour, spending time with elderly or kids at home or engaging in any activity that you love. The happiness that you may get out of it may probably be more long lasting and internally rewarding than the hours spent on social media.