Social Media: The Dark Reality

By Ama H.Vanniarachchy | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 14 2021

By Ama H.Vanniarachchy Ceylon Today Features 

Social media has become a platform to express and share views and experiences. It has become a platform where people share their lifestyles beyond an educational tool. Although it is a place where people can meet new friends, expand their professional network, learn new things, share good practices, social media largely causes negative impacts on one’s mental health. What are they and how does it cause a negative impact on one’s mental health? Let us find out. Social media has become a platform where people share what they eat, where they travel, how they socialise, and how they spend their daily lives, with the expectation of receiving likes, views, and comments. These views and comments act as modes that boost the happiness and sense of accomplishment of the person who posts them. However, at the same time, this very act acts as an indicator of the mental health of the one who posts them and has a negative impact on the viewers. How does this happen? 

Seeking the validation of others, in order to boost their low-confidence 

People by posting updates about their lifestyles, expect validation of the others. In general, people are interested to know and have a sneak peek into the lives of celebrities but not of ordinary people. But those who post private moments of their lives on social media have created an illusion about themselves as ‘celebrities’ in their minds. Psychologists explain this situation as a symptom of the inferiority complex of one’s personality, which is actually seen as over selfestimation but in reality, is a disguise of low self-confidence. Hence they seek the validation of the society via the reaction on social media. The worse part of this is that people live moments to take a ‘good’ photograph to be posted on social media and not actually living the moment. 

No sense of privacy 

When the sole goal is to take good ‘postable’ photographs, and when people share almost all moments of their private lives, one’s privacy is greatly at risk. These photographs once they are posted online, are out of the control of the owner. As one’s locations and life moments are exposed on social media, their lives are also put at risk. Threats or stalking by unknown people or stalkers are high and they cause stress, depression and even lead to suicide in certain cases.

Ego boosting 

According to psychology, those with low self-confidence or who seek the validation of others are doing so as an act to boost their ego. High levels of ego are a sign of an inferiority complex. Unless for the validation of the society, they feel low about themselves. 

Set life goals to compete with others 

Due to social media and modern marketing, many set their life goals based on these, rather than actually understanding what they want and what are their capabilities. This puts people under stress as they are constantly in a struggle to meet their goals which they set up based on the influence of social media. 

No sense of self 

As some people live life to be portrayed on social media it seems as they are losing the sense of self. People, especially the youth are being psychologically controlled through what they see on social media. Rather than rationally thinking or understanding things by themselves, they follow what is on social media.

Imitating others 

Living life for and based on the influence of social media has made people imitate others. Lifestyles, life goals and even thinking patterns are basically imitating others, or merely following trends set by social media. The value of individuality is being vanished due to imitations. 

Causes depression

 What they post on social media is not the reality. But those who do not understand this, often compare their lives with others. This causes stress, self-pity, feeling unsatisfied about life, and even depression. Also, people may struggle with their financial situations while trying to follow or imitate what they see on social media. 

Comparing life with others 

Comparing your life with others is not something to do at all. It has many negative health impacts. Such comparisons may lead to sadness, depression, and even disliking yourself and feeling low about yourself. 

Freedom is controlled 

Being extremely expressive and accessible on social media has made people’s lives more exposed and public. It has become easier and faster to contact people and connect. Although this has many positive traits there are great negative impacts on one’s mental health too. As the situation is such a person loses their privacy and freedom is restricted. If one needs to be disconnected from society and focus on their private life, modern social media has made it rather difficult. This has made people spend less time on their families and themselves, without interacting with society through social media. These are just a few of the many negative impacts social media can cause on our mental health. The most vulnerable group for fall victim is the teens and early youths and those who are illiterate and novel to the cyber world. As psychologists and sociologists suggest, social media addiction can cause severe depression, low self-esteem, and problems in one’s personality. Therefore, it is important to understand that; 

= What you see on social media is not always the reality.

 = People portray a life that is far from reality on social media. 

= There is no need at all for the following lifestyle trends set on social media. Live a life you can afford. 

= Decide your life by yourself; do not give in to what you see others do on social media. 

= Life is not living on social media. Think beyond social media. 

= There is no need to post your private moments on social media. 

= Think before you post on social media as you are exposing your privacy at a risk. 

= Understand that everyone is not your well-wisher. Many may be criticizing your choices, your private life when. 

Therefore, keep your private life private. = Do not seek validation from others. Value, appreciate, and love yourself. Use social media for entertainment, education, and socialise. But do not let it conquer your mind and spoil your mental health. In most cases, these negative mental health impacts are not seen nor taken seriously, especially in Sri Lanka. In many developed countries, these problems are identified, studied and awareness programs are conducted. Sri Lanka is yet very far from that.

By Ama H.Vanniarachchy | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 14 2021

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