This past year has shown us just how digital we’ve become and how much more technology has evolved and become intertwined in our daily lives. With the pandemic quarantines and safety measures in place, we have become even more active online than ever before. Researchers have reported over the years the effects that social media can have on a person’s state of mind. Although these facts are well known, it still begs the question: Is social media becoming more than just platforms, but also a way of supplying our minds with the everyday madness we so desperately crave around us?
Every day we check our news feeds, stories, posts and tweets without a second thought. We follow pages, like posts and even comment on pages from people we might not even know. We do all this as a form of escapism; we like to live vicariously through other people (whether we know them or not). We get on social media every day in hopes of seeing something that feeds into the addiction we have for drama, news or just for kicks and giggles. Take Instagram, for example. We have influencers who project the glamorous life that others tend to feed into. The majority of the time these pages are fake facades put on to capture a mass audience for viewing or to grab potential consumers for products.
Not only do these pages feed into the superficial society we know today, some social media platforms have altered their algorithm of how content is viewed or displayed on the home screen. Instagram recently redesigned its algorithm from chronological order to interests or likes. So instead of seeing your friend’s vacations posts first, the app will prioritize the content it thinks you will “like.”
As you start seeing more of these “suggested interests” you soon find yourself comparing what you see on social media to your own life. You see images of others flourishing online, on vacations, flashing money, living it up on their stories, and start to think to yourself: “I want that for myself,” not knowing the harsh realities (or falsification) behind those posts. We like to believe it’s something we’re doing wrong that is preventing us from living that life we see others having.
We put people from social media on a pedestal and look up to the masses that we’ve created from our own troubles. We’ve stopped living in the real world and live exclusively online. As a society as a whole we have become extremely shallow, and judge people around us based on what the world defines as “interesting” or “cool.” We have let social media tell us what we should be watching, listening to or paying attention to and everything else just doesn’t matter as much.
Since the pandemic outbreak, there has been an increase in social media usage. Now more than ever people feel the need to post their life changes as a means of proving one’s worth or value. However, when people begin to compare themselves to others it’ll take a toll on their mental health, and lead to depression tendencies of doubt or self-worth.
We owe it to ourselves to improve mental health by reducing our social media usage and taking a step back from the virtual world. We have a whole world worth living, and I plan on living it out loud and not online.