Have you ever posted a happy picture online to mask your real life unhappiness? The more miserable you are in real life, the happier you are on social media. In simple terms, the grass really isn’t greener.
Social media is the fastest medium to allow people to publicly share their thoughts, feelings and life with others and has increasingly become inauthentic. From the rise of fake news to the rise of bots, fake followers and their trolls, it’s hard to know whom, what or where to trust.
People who don’t have a perfect life are projecting their luxury cars, or vacations they have, even as their parents might be languishing in old age homes or being managed by domestic helps, or even when their spouses were leaving them or their kids hating them.
The use of social media also affects self-worth and online identity detrimentally with the number of likes and comments received. There is a direct effect on relationships. People who are prone to anxiety or isolation may be more likely to spend a lot of time on social media.
There is envy created because of heavy social media usage, especially on those who are low on self-esteem. Though human well-being has improved with technology and social media, there are a few negative effects that are skewed across the demography. In order to universalise a positive interaction with technology, it demands comprehensive, well-defined public policy intervention.
Why People Fake Happiness on Social Media
• Need for social approval
• Contagious happiness
• Thirst for instant gratification
• Afraid of looking like failures
• Celebrity posts
• Obsession with competing with others
• Insecure about their partners
• Hunger for positive feedback, crave for likes
Unplug from social media
Social media may ruin your life if not properly handled. Sometimes, you may get lost in your online life forgetting that you have lived in your real life too. Focusing on being more connected may end up being disconnected from the real world. Benefits of unplugging are increased focus, more creativity, more presence, less anxiety, better sleep, and avoiding burnout.
• Don’t use social media one hour before sleep and after you wake up
• Disable Notifications in your Smartphone
• Keep your phone under the desk while you’re working
• Charge your device outside the bedroom
• Access social media from your computer instead of your smartphone
• Keep only important tools on your home screen
• Keep your phone away during meals with friends and families
• Device Free Meetings
• Use Grey Scale mode on your Smartphone
• Use Screen Time on iOS and Digital Wellbeing on Android
Live a Real Life
• Interact with real people, not online people
• Don’t spend much time making your profile look wonderful
• Write a book about your adventures or trips
• Join an NGO, join a sport, or whatever that keeps you occupied
• Don’t crave for likes and shares
Identify ‘faking’ on social platforms
• Heavy mood swings – Quickly switches between being joyful, lively, to sadness or a frustration?
• You’re tired – Constantly insisting that you’re fine and cheerful, but you’re tired all the time
• Trying hard to show how great your life is – Increase in number of posts You’re isolated from others – Constantly making excuses to push people away can be a sign that you’re faking your happiness
• Alcohol and substance abuse – Coping with anxiety or other life issues through social drinking might imply the existence of a bigger problem
Social media is a great platform for all of us to connect, converse, and collaborate. On social media, many try to tell they are perfect, popular, rich, intelligent, and successful. Social media is like a pill that you take and makes you believe you are ok and the world is very wonderful towards you.
Excessive fake happiness on social media can have negative impacts, especially on the youth. They might fall into a comparison trap or depression. We strongly suggest you go for a walk, meet people at a restaurant, have fun and there is nothing better than having the person in front of you to connect, converse and collaborate.
Stay Tuned to Cyber Talk Column for more about internet ethics and digital wellness brought to you by Anil Rachamalla, End Now Foundation, www.endnowfoundation.org
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