Updated: Feb 17
Social media has taken over our lives completely, in ways we didn’t expect it to. What started off as sixdegrees.com has now escalated to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and even more apps- apps that help us get to our destination, find restaurants and edit our bodies. What started off as ‘connectivity’ has amplified to a level where we have added a social media detox diet to our lives. The reasons behind this phenomenon are plenty, depending on the person or the profession they’re in. According to experts, social media has an impact on our mental health largely, which impacts the way we look and feel about ourselves.
Anxiousness and depression revolving around social media are increasing. So how do we actually know if social media is glamourizing matters that need urgent attention?
Often when we have tasks assigned lined up, our mind begins to churn on how we are going to complete them. But at times, if they’re overwhelming we will find ourselves drifting from completing them. For instance, a child will constantly get distracted by video games and the parents will have to intervene to get the child to focus on completing the homework. Similarly, as adults, our mind will tell us that the deadline is next week and begins to delay putting in the work, simply by being distracted.
This may not be the healthiest approach as it puts a lot of stress on our body and mind. We become more concerned about completing the work rather than submitting a quality one. Procrastination is not a foreign word for most of us, since the majority of us face it. But social media has normalized it, where for instance a student whose exams are coming up goes through Instagram and avoids studying. He or she comes across a post about procrastination, which will also make the post get maximum engagement due to its relatability. This influences the young mind, who views this as normal and experiences it instead of trying to find ways to overcome it.
Eventually, the influenced individuals will find ways to distract themselves by watching dog videos and spending more and more time on social media than focusing on their future. Which in turn affects their academic performance.
How Ghosting and Cyber-stalking is linked
Ghosting is when a person chooses not to reply to the text to avoid confrontation or any explanation. According to the ghoster, it’s the most rational way but the other person goes over their head. For instance, a friend is over the friendship but chooses to not end it by talking it out. This millennial word has become so common that it has even been added to the dictionary. And through social media, we find out that the majority of people are subjected to ghosting. Now it has become so normal, that we even brush it aside saying, “oh yes, she ghosted me”.
But before the social media era, how was it done really? It was a simple confrontation or telling the truth. Now we can see the message on our notifications and choose to leave the person in the dark. This subjects the ghosted person through a series of overthinking and breakdowns, not knowing what went wrong. But gradually over time, they get over it like any other matter. The game of ghosting is known to us- it’s a cowardly exit when the ghoster disappears in thin air. But after a couple of months, the ghoster becomes inquisitive about the other person’s life and decides why not make a fake profile to check what they’re up to?
In a way, staying updated on their life without having to speak to them. This concept of cyber-stalking is done not just by individuals, but also by companies to find out about their employees’ personal life. It gives them an insight into the person they are and if they match the company’s beliefs. Social media has normalized cyber-stalking that was previously done by following a person on foot, and now it’s a flick of a wrist. But how healthy are ghosting and cyber-stalking?
Even though it may seem like a rational way, it adds very little to the ghoster’s personality by shying behind a screen. This prevents the person from actually being courageous and actually speaking up. So, if in the future, an uncomfortable situation does arise they will find ways to run away from it. The opposite happens to the person who was ghosted. They instead become stronger by coming to terms with the fact that they may never get the answer they’re looking for. And if a similar situation does arise, they will choose to confront rather than run. Cyber-stalking on the other hand may lead to an obsession with watching another water their grass- rather than actually working on their own.
Body morphing is when a person tries to alter their body to fit a certain standard. As humans, we are all insecure about something of ourselves. We may view ourselves as not good enough, where the person in front may feel otherwise. It’s a human tendency to show our best selves. For instance, on social media apps like Instagram we see dozens of people smiling and on vacation- but how many of them are actually happy? Influencers are the new hit on Instagram to sell a lifestyle, an image. This image generates another monetary channel for the person aside from their 9-5 job, and if successful they may even quit their job.
Viewers may get intrigued and hit the like button, which increases the influencers’ following. But behind the screen, is a person who has heavily altered their features and body so that sponsors and brands approach them. Social media has normalized unrealistic standards that make people feel bad about themselves impacting our mental health once again. Due to the rising effect, countries like France and Norway have it punishable by law to photoshop pictures to protect people. This is a healthy approach to protect young minds from feeling disheartened about their bodies.
Social media was introduced to our lives to make it easier, but there are cons to every solution. If we understand how to minimize its impact on our personal lives we can prevent its takeover. But we should recognize our own insecurities first so that if we come across a situation we will understand how to deal with it. Social media can be our friend if we allow it!
Ishita is a contributing volunteer whose interest lies in civil law and wants to advocate for those voices that aren’t heard. She is an optimist that wants to voice issues that aren’t spoken about. This is seen in her page @takeitwithapinchofsalt on Instagram, which is a snippet page that talks about relatable content. Her articles on GWBT display a sense of openness, a space that is safe for all age groups.