The Illusion of happiness!

Social media is disconnecting us from our society but we think it is doing the reverse

Over the past few years social media has grown to be a phenomenon in our culture. “Facebook operates the world’s No. 1 social networking site with 2.23 billion monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2018” and this is just one venue for social media. As more people from all age demographics begin to log in to this growing phenomenon, it’s important to step back and take a look at the side of social media that is not so enjoyable. We’ve all heard the quote. “You can’t have too much of a good thing”, but how true is this? That is exactly what we will be looking into, is too much social media a good thing or are we being negatively affected? Studies have proven that social media in excess can cause negative effects on an individual’s time management, communication skills, relationships and even health. Time management is easily described as the ability to plan and exercise control over how one spends their time. Even those with great control and time management skills like organizing and scheduling can fall victim to distractions. There are many different ways one can access media whether via phone, computer, television or radio. With information being so readily available and everyone’s constant need to be ‘in the know’ it’s very easy for people to become consumed in what is happening on their phones or computers. 

Now focusing my attention towards Kashmir, social networking among Kashmiri students has become more and more popular as it acts as a way to make connections, not only on campus but with friends outside school. It was all good if it would have been used in a disciplined way but if we see today youth especially of Kashmir waist most of their precious time using social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube etc. There minds always remain preoccupied with unnecessary things like “oh! What should be my tomorrow’s  status for Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook etc or how can I arrange money to take DSLR on rent for the photo shoot (the pictures which can be taken by it to upload on social networking sites) to maintain their status whether among their peers, friends, classmates and society. It is a very serious problem that is diseasing our society nowadays and what is unfortunate is that we even don’t think over this issue! It has been assumed that social media can play a major role in a student’s environment and subsequently affect their developing brain by impacting how it processes information, reacts to situations and remembers events. 

Teens in Kashmir are exposed to images and statuses that portray perfection. Social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram have a tendency to showcase idealized body types through images that have been cosmetically altered, and therefore set unrealistic and unattainable beauty standards for adolescent children whose bodies are going uncontrollable change.

Ongoing exposure to unrealistic beauty standards through social media can affect how teenagers perceive their own bodies. These perceptions can negatively affect a teenager’s physical and mental health which already is affected due to the armed conflict which is going on in Kashmir. These all above mentioned problems are witnessed in Kashmiri teenagers nowadays. Social media if not carefully used can also lead to pornography among teens. Not only this using  social media in excess can greatly disturb sleep patterns by compelling teens to stay up late or wake throughout the night to check notifications which is now common among the Kashmiri teens. The blue light from mobile phone screens can also confuse sleep cycles which in turn causes many problems like difficulty learning and concentrating, feeling stressed or anxious, becoming irritable, health issues such as acne and viral illnesses and unhealthy eating and weight gain. 

Developing social skills helps teenagers to establish and maintain friendships. Due to the fact that teenagers and children spend a lot of time interacting over social media sites and apps, many of them are establishing social interaction skills that don’t necessarily apply to the offline world. While, of course, social media can help to nurture and strengthen existing relationships. It’s integral that teenagers also learn how to have meaningful, face to face exchanges with people.

Besides this youth these days spent so much less time with their families as they are busy with their cell phones browsing on social networking sites due to which they fail to understand the importance, need, care and love of a family. This may also act as one of the reasons that children nowadays don’t respect their parents or other elders. We all have to think over this issue and we should keep in mind that our mobile phone has already replaced our  watch, camera, calendar and alarm clock. We must not allow it to replace our family.

That is why I strongly believe that it is high time to think over this serious problem before it’s too late. We collectively have to save our younger generation which are the future of our conflicting nation Kashmir from this menace. Social media should be used in a limited manner. Maximum time should be spend in reading books. So, the message goes to all the parents in Kashmir to be worried about the negative affects of social media on their teens. Social media is a tool and (as with any tool) in the hands of people it can either be used or misused. So while we struggle to understand the negative effects that social media can have on teenagers, we need to remember that the dark side of social media is often little more than a manifestation of the dark side of humanity; a darkness that has always been there but – through its presence on social media – is now more visible than ever. 

Parents have to play a crucial role in minimizing the negative effects of social media on their teens by providing them with a strong moral compass and guide them in creating solutions that help them safely navigate user-driven environments.

(The author is pursuing B.A. (Hons.) in Economics from Aligarh Muslim University.