A widespread occurrence in the modern world, the absence of this phenomenon may be regarded as something of an absurdity. Consequently, my perspective on this topic may be regarded as slightly eccentric. However, given the strength of my personal experiences, I wanted to share my opinion on the issue.
Social media is a constant companion in our daily lives. It is with us throughout our day, in our best and worst times, capturing moments and memories that would otherwise be lost to us. It is a way to connect with loved ones and stay in touch with friends that would otherwise drift away. You might be wondering right now that it is a pretty weird way to argue against something by proclaiming its virtues. But it is precisely because of these advantages that social media has become such a difficult commodity to leave.
One of the most natural human behaviors is the mechanism of comparison. It is what helps us to progress in life by constantly developing benchmarks of performance based on our peers. However, when overdone, it can be an extremely destructive habit that can have severe mental health repercussions. Constantly comparing oneself to other people can leave one perpetually dissatisfied with one’s life. The reason for this is that there will always be people who will be better off or at a better stage in life and a comparison with them will do no more than disturb our own peace and contentment.
It is precisely this danger that social media exacerbates. Each person posts the highlights of their day which may or may not be an accurate reflection of their current state. However, the moment is documented and presented in a manner that makes it seem as though it was an unbelievably fantastic event. The reality though, may not be consistent with the image. I myself have been part of several social media posts that when viewed later seemed a detachment from the actual events that transpired. I have heard similar stories from my other friends as well. It is not always the case but my experience leads me to believe that such events are not uncommon. However, it does not seem that way when viewed by a third person. Consequently, some of us may be viewing the other person’s storylines as some thrilling adventure while knowing that the reality of our own posts was not as exciting as it seemed. This leads to a feeling of dissatisfaction, loneliness and an urge to be part of more and more exciting moments even when we may not actually want to. This is known as a social anxiety called FOMO or the “Fear Of Missing Out”. It is manifested by the constant comparison of one’s life with other people through observations on social media.
Conclusively, while social media has a lot of benefits, there are also a lot of dangers lurking in the shadows. With the increasing rate of mental health issues in the West, it is my belief that social media has a strong role to play. Multiple studies have found a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts (Alutaybi et al.). Perhaps the most troubling aspect of all in the case of this particular danger is the degree of attachment we have created with social media. I have witnessed firsthand people understanding its problems and attempting to leave it but failing due to the dependence it has created. Could it be the first in a future of digital drugs? Only time will tell…