How Chained Are We To Social Media?
Facebook, the most used app worldwide, started in 2004.
Youtube celebrated its 1st birthday on Valentine’s Day, 2005. (Is that why it is red and white?!)
Feeling young yet?
Let’s look at a couple more.
Twitter has been making the common man an open critic since 2006.
Tumblr also started turning the web into a microblog in 2006.
Instagram started its photo community back in 2010.
“Are you on WhatsApp?” became a thing from 2010. So did Pinterest.
Snapchat became the first ever image exclusive messaging service and unleashed the dog (filter) in 2011.
These are to name only a few. I can go on and on. But for now, just let that sink in.
All of us wonder too much about similarities and commonness. But, do we ever wonder what is the most uncommon sight in the world today?
Without a shred of doubt, it is a person who doesn’t own a smartphone. He is flagged as weird, bizarre, and his entire existence turns into a question. The multi-millionaire singer-songwriter, Ed Sheeran, does not own a smartphone. When he talked about this on a British talk-show, people were shocked.
Even weirder seems a person who is off social media. Like, how does he even WhatsApp? Is he from the caves? How do they survive there? It’s almost as if not owning a smartphone in this age is similar to owning a phone in the early 2000s. What a turn of tables!
We fail to realize that mankind has gone for millions of years without cell phones and for decades without social media before its advent. There were times when waking up to a notification was out of the realm of imagination and being able to video call for free was a dream many of us only wished was true.
Today, there is/are:
- A constant need to be connected accepted and ‘liked’.
- A constant fear of being lonely and missing out on online content.
- A large void that we think can be filled by the attention we garner online. It is almost like a psychological disorder. The more a person is off the grid, the better his mental health is.
- A multitude of benefits too, if used right.
But like every other thing, human beings have over and over again misused its benefits and have now started heading towards their own doom. Quite literally!
WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Video services- like video calling, has been on quite a journey from AT&T’s Picturephone in 1969, to services like Skype and Facetime on iPhones. Earlier, when the internet was more of a luxury than a necessity, video calling served important purposes like teleconferencing and connecting to relatives/friends residing on the other side of the globe.
There has been the advent of a relatively new feature called ‘live video’, which enables a person/service provider to address a large audience at once through live video streaming. Sort of like live TV that you need the Internet for. The perks of this are numerous. It facilitates instant access to information for customers through videos, demonstrations, advertisements, etc. It is a sure fire way to generate revenue and strengthen their hold on social media users around the world.
It’s all good until it’s misused.
Think of the times when you use your phone, or more specifically, the internet the most. Was it when you were out hanging out in a social group or was it when you were alone, feeling like you have nothing else to do?
It will be the latter for a majority of phone and social media addicts.
This dependency has led people to be sure that the virtual world of Facebook and Instagram is always there for them if no one else is. They might be dealing with a lot in life, but a little support from their little online community is what they need to feel better. It helps them to ‘live’ better.
And to some, it helps to ‘die’ better.
This is what the suicide victims must have felt before they chose to end their lives in front of a whole bunch of people through Facebook’s live video. They wouldn’t want to cut that last thread of human contact off until their last breath. Numerous cases of live video suicides sprouting up all over the world have been witness to this. Criminality is also touching new heights as people use such technology to broadcast live shootings. Where exactly is the line?
It’s not just dying or killing online, it is also dying due to it. 40% of school goers are subjected to cyber-bullying worldwide.
WHY IS THIS WEIRD?
Suicide, although unacceptable, should be a personal matter. Why one became so depressed as to be driven to end his life should be no one’s business.
The fact that people feel the need to be ‘connected’ even during the last few moments of their short lived life, is downright tragic, if not weird. They do not want to be in solitude even in death.The constant need to be glorified and remembered does not leave one’s mind even then. This is how fixated our lives are on social media. Even dying has to be shared with a virtual audience.
Have we become so helpless?
How is it any different from watching a person die in real and not be able to do much about it?
WHAT WE CAN DO
- You see a friend or a family member deep in trouble and depression, help them out. Help them in the littlest of ways possible. Even a lent ear can go a long way. Let them know that you’re there. Loneliness can be fixed.
- Develop healthy habits at home. Unplug from your digital devices to spend quality time with real people instead of virtual ones. This breeds the most important sense of trust and confidence which acts as a safe haven at times of distress and depression.
Don’t let a person go to such an extent that he has to resort to a website for feeling ‘at home’ in his final moments. Even cyber-bullying can lead one to take extreme steps and consider suicide. If not, the kid becomes a mess from a very young age.
- Schools can be very effective brokers in working with the parents to stop and remedy cyberbullying situations. They can also educate the students on cyberethics and the law. If schools are creative, they can sometimes avoid the claim that their actions exceeded their legal authority for off-campus cyberbullying actions.
Using a smartphone and overusing it are two different things. It’s sometimes hard to not miss those times.
When our digital buddies weren’t acting as our little mental crutches and weren’t enslaving us from 7 AM to 12 AM.
When ‘likes’ only meant a person crushing on you, ‘posts’ were only what the postman delivered, and when ‘pictures’ were only Kodak moments.
Are we using our phones or is it the other way around?