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Social media is a wild animal which can do amazing stuff but if we allow it to run amok then it can scrape us of our happiness. It is up to us to Like or React to it.
Last night, while browsing social media, amongst so many status updates, there was also a picture of an old friend.
Rashmi looked ravishing in a peacock blue Georgette sari with green halter neck blouse. The picture personified joy and contentment. There were many likes and comments on how beautiful she looked. ‘Wow!’ I typed, but then before hitting the enter button, I deleted my comment. Let me call her, I decided. She would be very happy to get a call from me.
Rashmi was indeed elated to hear my voice after one year. It was fun catching up. After a heart –to- heart conversation, when we were about to hang up, promising to call each other more often, I confessed, ‘Rashmi, your beautiful picture prompted me to call you otherwise I am so lazy.’
‘Thanks Sujata but just like the picture and leave a nice comment na. Let my stylish friends know I can get more likes than them,’ she said with unmistakable sincerity in her voice.
‘You look hot and sexy!’ I typed a comment wondering at the same time what mattered more to Rashmi – my public comment praising her beauty or a private soul enriching conversation?
Social media has not only changed the way we communicate but also our thought process. The very essence of life is undergoing metamorphosis courtesy our social media afflicted lives.
Sample this. As a nightly ritual, reclining on your bed, you scroll through the happy statuses of Friends. Foreign vacations, children studying abroad, high flying social dos, a promotion, new Merc someone’s husband gifted. You like all, comment some. While you are hitting the Like button, you are self-assessing yourself. When the picture of the bungalow that your friend has recently bought flashes before you, the hairline crack in your bedroom wall appears deeper. Your fun-filled holiday to Ooty last month looks lacklustre in comparison to someone’s Europe tour. Your frown lines appear more prominent in front of the glossy pictures of the party you were not invited for.
Suddenly you feel inadequate, unaccomplished, poorer and unhappy. Does this scenario look familiar? If not, then either you are lying or you are on social media detoxification diet.
Social media, the greatest invention of 21st century was created to build virtual bridges across continents, help people stay connected, to trace old friends and rekindle romances – all for free. But like everything else, social media too has its side effects. Internet is overloaded with studies elucidating the fact that social media creates more barriers than the bridges it is supposed to build. The happy statuses become the yardstick for us to measure our worth. Others’ success make us feel like a failure no matter how accomplished we are in our own spaces. The online comparison lingers to take the form of depression even after we log out.
But why do you get depressed? Don’t you know, these pictures portray only one side of the story and these people who are posting pictures of husbands gifting them solitaires also have bad hair days? Have you ever seen pictures when the hair is not in place, the double chin is showing, the paunch is out, back is hunched, mouth slightly open, front teeth protruding little extra making your friend look like a Dracula. Come on, who posts such pictures? We post only happy pictures with perfect captions. My bestest husband. You are the only reason for my smile.
I know it but my logical mind forgets all logic when it sees a glittering diamond necklace on a neck. I wish my husband were richer or he loved me more to gift me diamonds. I go paranoid when I see pictures of an Australia vacation whereas I can afford only a trip to Wayanad by non AC bus.
My mind repeatedly asks, am I not the fairest of us all?
No. You are not. Accept it or not, there is always someone out there who is more beautiful, more popular, wiser, more intelligent, wealthier, wittier and smarter than you.
My neighbour Ananya is a self-proclaimed social media junkie. Ladies Kitty parties, family picnics, a new rose in her garden, kids’ school day – every occasion calls for a pictorial status update. Dressed in trendy outfits carrying a Coach and wearing a Prada, her pictures will give every woman a complex. ‘It gives me a high on seeing so many comments and likes but when others get more likes than me, I go into self-doubt. Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night to check who all have commented on my new picture and if there are very few comments then I can’t sleep. I feel I am no good,’ says Ananya candidly.
No matter what the pitfalls, chucking off social media is not an option. It had more pros than cons and we have come too far to even think of abandoning it altogether. Whether you are a homemaker using social media for time pass, an author to promote your book, a trainer, a counsellor looking for work, a trekker promoting adventure sports or someone who likes to hang out to see what others are doing, we can’t do without social media. Agreed, we can’t abandon it but we can surely tame it.
Put the genie back into the bag and allow it to come out as and when we require.
Don’t let the excess and lack of Likes hit you. People are just being kind when they leave nice comments on your status and fewer comments doesn’t mean you are no good.
Prioritize your day. Is leaving comments on the walls of the outside world more important than talking to people who matter? Spend time on productive activities. House cleaning, reading a book, cooking, painting, talking to your children, meeting real friends, playing with your dog, there is plenty to fill your day productively.
Manjiri Prabhu, a bestselling author and Founder Pune International Literary Festival says, ‘Comparison is like an unspoken process of self-assessment and we all fall prey to it. The best way to keep a grasp on reality, and not get obsessed by the opinions on social media, is by being honest with yourself. Have a continuous dialogue with the self, assess your needs. Once you are clear of what really matters to you, then other images, yardsticks, external and public approvals will automatically dissolve and what will emerge is your own success story. Celebrate it!’
All that glitters could be just imitation. We live in the times when everything is on sale including the number of likes, comments and shares – so why let it affect us? And even if the comments and likes are genuine, we know life is not fair. It is not worth losing our sleep over someone’s happiness. To each their own.
Make real friends. Nurture friendships. It is so much fun to catch up with friends over coffee than connecting virtually. Studies prove that when we listen to people’s achievements face- to- face, the emotion of jealousy is replaced with the feeling of pride to have accomplished friends.
Limit your time on social media. My cousin Sapna often takes a break from social media when she feels she is losing her sanity by peeping into people’s lives. ‘When I return after two weeks, I feel neither as if I have missed anything, nor anyone has missed me – making me wonder the use of social media,’ says Sapna.
Published here earlier.
Image source: pixabay
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