Social media butterfly, anti-social addict
In an era of advanced technologies, face to face interaction is no more important, because everyone is a text away towards digital communication
"I'm only a call or text away if you need anything," soothed that one friend of yours who probably lives no more than 30 minutes away distant from your area. Of course, she would rather waste her call balance than use the very same money to catch the bus across the street and meet you in person. Because its "easier", right?
What is also easy is to fall into a mental state of mind and undergo depression because of zero interaction and living life behind a screen. Do thank that friend who was always there for you, DIGITALLY.
We all use social media to connect with friends and family for easier communication. Granted, it has benefited businesses, improved relationships and enhanced communication between groups of people. Social media has also assisted today's youth in the best way possible through connections with different networks and providing them a base or a platform to empower themselves.
What makes social networking applications even more attractive is providing every individual with a voice to raise their concerns; in turn, those with likeminded views and opinions are able to connect and stay in touch. However, anything in excess is detrimental. Social media has its own pros and cons, and unless you use it with a good purpose, it can affect not only your relationships with others, but yourself.
The very term "social" directly connotes to mingling with people, whether it be individuals from the same society, community, cultures, and other social groups.
Although digital connections are beneficial, we may slowly confine ourselves to such an environment in a way where we do not wish to visit people anymore, but simply "poke" or send a follow request in order to start a conversation.
This is ironic, as social media is supposed to help people meet gain new connections and eventually lead to having occasional visits with them and have real conversations.
However, the truth is unpleasant as social face to face interaction is absent within the term "social media", but only sharing of media (photos, videos, messages) with social connections is performed. Connections today are made through either gaining as many followers on Instagram as possibly, or the maximum number of likes - instead of actually learning to discover people slowly and going round a process to reach them through your interests.
What is even sadder is that among the youth, your profile on social media very often determines how important you may be as a person - without popularity and "an awesome feed", you might be labelled as "old fashioned" or "uncool". Social media also cannot accurately represent your emotions - although we have a wide array of emojis that could display your melodramatic events or the "I'm over the moon" contentment, the amusing custom of sending a smiley emoji to somebody when you actually want to scream on top of your lungs - is not a very precise portrayal of your temperament.
Sneha Sivanand, a 21-year-old student studying at Middlesex University, knows better. She has interned at a multiple number of firms, including Four Communications in Dubai and London, and worked as a production and social media coordinator for Bfound, an internet marketing service company partnered with Google.
Apart from work, Sneha takes occasional breaks by pursuing her favourite hobby - music. Her melodious voice and love for chords and tones inspired her to make videos and share her passion with the world. Being a fervid and career minded individual, you would expect her to be an avid social media addict with a "picture-perfect life" and captioning Starbucks' coffee snaps every day, but somehow, that isn't the case. "I do not use social media often, but tend to use it when I have an event or I want to share my music, or if I have an urgent need for it to share stuff or if I had a fun day, that's when I post [on social media]; I don't post regularly," said Sneha.
Most people agree with the opinion that social media does not encourage face-to-face interaction between individuals, including Sneha. In fact, users want to show they have extravagant lives by updating their social media whenever they eat something, or dress up for the day, or even something as simple as working out, just to show that they have a healthy lifestyle (although in reality, it is just them clicking a picture of weights lying off the gym floor). While this is normal, those who continually update every single second of their lives on the internet display a completely different version of themselves, as opposed to reality.
"I definitely think that social media is the cause behind individuals no longer interacting face to face, because it creates this comfortable platform where you can just be anyone you want, create a persona, and create somebody you want to be which is not you being yourself; not everyone is being themselves," said Sneha.
She added: "Not everyone uses social media to meet people in real life. They don't try to strengthen the bond by meeting in person. People are just happy with using social media as a connection and so it is definitely ironic that just because social media is there, people use it as an excuse [to not meet each other] and even then, people don't keep in touch nowadays."
According to Sneha, it can be a hard task to raise awareness, especially when "not many people want to accept that this is an issue". Yet, she thinks awareness must be created among social media users to not destroy their beautiful selves with the wrong colours, as this can lead to isolation.
"A lot of people are facing issues where they are not happy with themselves, and not comfortable with who they are as a person. And I think one of the ways you can prevent this from happening, is to keep a check on the screen time you use on social media through your smartphones.
"Keeping alarms will give you the thought that you are using too much, or even just telling yourself that you will check it three times a day at regular intervals help too."
She also thinks that social media applications like Instagram and Facebook should consider creating notification bells to remind users that they're online for too long.
Start a social media detox today, and go on a picnic with your friends - the real chatting and genuine emotions will do wonders on your mood.