Social Media and our personal lives

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Social Media and our personal lives

Literally hundreds of messages in the form of texts, pictures and video clippings flood my smartphone on daily basis. Except a few, most of them are not worthy of attention. Recently I received a picture-message that provoked my thoughts: ‘When phones were tied to a wire we were free, now that phones are free of wires, we are tied to them.’

No one imagined that cellular phones would bring a kind of a revolution that it has brought. At the advent of Social Media and Smartphones, all believed that only young people would be swept off their feet, but in actual sense everyone in all age brackets have been swept off. It is no more a strange sight to see a semi-literate rural woman busy scrolling through a smartphone for recent postings. My elderly father is demanding for a Smartphone, so as to keep in touch with his grandchildren who are always into it.

Social Media has affected our personal relationships and our personal lives to a great extent. It enters and occupies our lives before we realize that it has consumed our time and personal lives. Unfortunately some may never realize it. Perhaps many are still trying to figure out its impact on our lives. Smartphones connected to Social Media such as WhatsApp is an amazing wonder in the palm of our hands. It can please, amuse, divert, distract as well as destroy. It is equal to relationships that we build—please, amuse, build or destroy.

With Social Media, our personal lives are no more personal and private. Knowingly or unknowingly we have “sold” our privacy and allowed even unknown people to trespass into our personal lives, even to our intimate selves. A few years ago a young former student of mine posted an immodest photo of herself on her Facebook page to which many of her friends commented wittingly and clicked the Like button. Being personally I was not amused by the act I called her to remove the posting. With a lot of naivety (or innocently) she said, “…but it is only in the Facebook…”.

Then I needed to tell her that ‘by doing such a thing in the Social Media is worse than walking on the streets naked, because you will be seen only by a few people, but now you are not only seen by thousands of people, but also commented upon or even copied and pasted elsewhere’. She came to her senses and deleted the posting immediately. Social Media mucks our common sense, blinds our sensibility and impedes our decision making ability. We often act with naivety, gullibility and imprudently.

For many users Social Media has become a platform to exhibit childishness, immaturity, silliness and pettiness, which users will not normally do in right mind. Often we regret something we have posted, commented, and connections we have made in Social Media, but it is already too late to undo the harm we have caused to ourselves and others. All the while Social Media using enhanced technology is working on our subconscious and subverted human nature.

At this moment it is important to analyze what makes Social Media overtake us and keep us addicted to its use. Human beings are social animals. In our hierarchy of needs we have the basic need of being connected, being secure, and being in relationship; it is our psychosocial need. It is what makes us human beings. But unfortunately we are falsely trying to satisfy this basic human need through virtual relationship and communication, which apparently ratifying and seem to be easier than the real. But a deeper thought will tell us that it is false, illusionary, deceptive, pretense and even harmful. Sooner or later it will push us into crisis needing rehabilitation.

While Social Media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn can get us “Friends” let you be “Like(d)”, they can never satisfy our longing for emotional connection and be in relationship. Though the site like Facebook can connect us with a billion people and Twitter can help us to communicate with millions of users with a stroke of a button cannot truly befriend with someone and satisfy our needs for love and intimacy. In fact a naïve confidence and reliance on them can even bring harm and destroy genuine relationships. Face-to-face and Real-life relationships can never match with the superficial and virtual friendship made through technology.

Instead, relying on virtual friendship often times manifests our frail attitudes towards life, emotional immaturity, lack of skills in relationships and our misplaced priorities in life. Our uncontrolled use of Social Media besides consuming our productive time and resources worsen our self-esteem, sense of inner security and loss of genuine relationships.

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