The success of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and the likes, is owed to the patterns of internet consumerism that we see today, which is based on people’s need for positive reinforcement, inherent voyeuristic tendencies(which is a common factor to all in varying degrees).
We live in a world of ‘apps’. We constantly seek instant gratification. We do not have the patience to wait for tomorrow’s newspaper or wait till that weekend release of that much-anticipated movie, or the latest episode of our favorite sitcom since everything is available on the internet with the ease of a click.
We are depending on ‘likes’ and ‘upvotes’ to feel good about ourselves, feeling euphoric as long as we’re getting adequate doses of it, and come crashing down, almost experiencing withdrawal symptoms with the lack of it. This can be likened with any other addiction like substance, gambling, or sex.
This lack of patience and the need for instant gratification is making us restless, edgy, and fickle. It’s also making us lazy, lethargic while diminishing the value of small, but important things in life. It’s causing what I call a ‘Social life paradox.’
By Social Life Paradox, what I mean is, we are falling prey to the lure of ‘socializing’ with like never before from the comfort of our homes, laptops, and phones, while missing the entire point of being social.i.e., having a real physical, in-person social interaction.
The direct effect of this is that we getting more uncomfortable when exposed to new environments, new people, and new situations. This is silently hindering our growth as human beings since no person can gain the knowledge and wisdom that one gets through real human experiences, that we trying to unknowingly extract from the internet.
The diminished real human experiences are resulting in short-term, broken relationships, unrealistic expectations, and creating a parallel pseudo-world of confused fantasies, with empty, hollow realizations.
The latest bane of social media and the internet, is the new age disorder called “Digital amnesia” which is very real and happening whilst you’re rapidly scrolling through those Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds.
We are forgetting names, birthdays and anniversaries, experiencing word-finding difficulties, have those tip-of-the-tongue phenomena more often. All this can be attributed to multiple short bursts of social media reads we are getting habituated to. We are reading more, but registering less. We are reading quantity over quality. We’re bombarding our brains too much information, too fast. The brain doesn’t even get the time to process and push this information into our long-term memory stores.
To add to this, the biggest impact of social media has been on our sleep. The scrolling we do on various apps whilst sliding in our beds at night leaves the brain too stimulated to be able to get a restful and refreshing sleep.
Also reaching pandemic proportions, is the “text neck” syndrome, the inclined posture our neck assumes while texting. Silently, this is wreaking havoc without spines, with serious health impacts.
Because of these new entities that have come to fore as a result of an overdose of social media, we are slowly but surely, pushing ourselves towards myriad mental health problems like depression, anxiety disorders, poor relationships, and so on, affecting our overall health.
Let’s discern how we use social media. We’re on the brink of a mental illness pandemic. Let’s not push ourselves into it.