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Taking selfies and posting them on social media has almost become a dangerous religion today. Image conscious and vulnerable youngsters are most at risk.
A few days ago, I read an article in BBC news on how social media platforms are impacting on the mental health of the young generation. Side effects of technology, I would say! I was startled when I came across an example of this soon after.
I had gone to my parents’ place for lunch, and there I met my aunt (my mum’s cousin) and her teenage granddaughter, Nia.
It is hard to believe, how quickly a tiny tot grew into a beautiful young lady. But, what surprised me even more, was her age which was not compatible with how she looked. She is just thirteen, and her gestures, her dressing, her hair, her pout were giving an impression of a nineteen years old, or even older.
“Wow! Kids do grow up fast!” I thought. “They are looking mature for their age, where is that ‘bachpan’ gone?” And the other thing I couldn’t keep myself from noticing was her love for her mobile camera. She was photo shooting herself from every possible angle, with my aunt, without her, with my mum, without my mum, with me, without me, with her hair open, with a top knot, and the moment she got the perfect shot she had updated the picture in Instagram.
As per the above mentioned study conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health,“Social media may be fuelling a mental health crisis” in young people.
The study was based on a poll where the people of age group 14-24 were asked to rate popular apps on issues like depression, anxiety, loneliness, and body-image. And interestingly the image-based platforms like Instagram and Snapchat were rated worst for mental health and well-being.
I think the study has some relevant observations. In fact, looking at Nia and kids of her age, I certainly agree with the findings that the poll suggests. The kids these days are open to the internet like never before and without any filter imposed. And with these social media platforms where every single person prefers to upload his/her best image, it has become difficult to stop the feeling of comparison among youngsters. Many times they compare themselves with the celebrities (not to forget the popup links that show you your lookalike among celebrities).
It is not just that adolescents are investing more time in the social media than on studies, they are taking it way too seriously, the selfie fad is ubiquitous, and in the past few years, many have lost their lives too in pursuit of a perfect selfie.
As per the report of Washington Post in January 2016, about half of at least 27 selfie-related death in 2015 had happened in India. As per the report, from 2014 to August 2016, there have been at least 54 selfie-related casualties in India. In fact, the Union Government had asked the states to identify and barricade the ‘selfie danger’ areas; no selfie-zones have also been recognised by the provincial governments related to Kumbh Mela to avoid congestion and stampedes.
Not just that, the youngsters are spending a huge sum of money in makeovers, to look good in a selfie, for an apt profile picture. Many times, this seeds and flourishes the feeling of dissatisfaction and self-doubt regarding one’s appearance and body. Also, a sense of self-pity ignites after seeing friends or relatives at foreign locations, posing for the camera.
As per many psychiatrists ‘taking selfies is not an addiction but one of the symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) that is related to checking one’s appearance’. A sufferer of BDD spends hours to get that perfectly flawless selfie. A British teenager Danny Bowman tried to commit suicide because he was dissatisfied with his appearance in a selfie (An extreme case of BDD). A person who is over-involved in taking selfies and in uploading the same in social media may also suffer from low self-confidence and can eventually be deprived of friends, in fact, such people have a virtual world, where they prefer to spend most of their time and are socially secluded in real life. Also, it has been seen that instead of going on a vacation for some family time, people are more seen spending time taking selfies to upload them in social media.
Back in the olden days, People used to give importance to society, neighbours and family; they used to live in a close circle of family and friends to have support and to not feel left out. Their happiness, sorrows and concerns were subject to the society they used to live in. Now, though we don’t care much about our next door neighbour, the society we live in, but have a virtual world/ community with whom we like to spend most of our time. A person dresses, go out on vacations, for that virtual world. Taking selfies and displaying them has become mandatory in that world. Sad.
If you or anyone you know is feeling suicidal, here are some of the helplines available in India. Please call.
Aasra, Mumbai: 022-27546669
Sneha, Chennai: 044-2464 0050
Lifeline, Kolkata: 033-2474 4704
Sahai, Bangalore: 080–25497777
Roshni, Hyderabad: 040-66202000, 040-66202001
Image source: pixabay