If technology has brought us cl oser, how come there are even more lonely people in the world around us now? Why do so many people isolate themselves from society and relationships seem fake and we see everyone complaining about trust issues and not being able to connect in real life with people?
Why are our suicide rates higher than ever? Why are the number of depression cases getting higher everyday? Why do people develop and suffer through various psycho-social problems? Why are we emotionally and psychologically so vulnerable that the only way out seems to be self-harm?
We seem to get along so well on social media networks and yet we find it difficult to do the same in real life? I am not trying to degrade the value of social networking and technological advancement, but only pointing out that we have become too dependent on it, so much that we don’t realise what we are missing out on in real life. We are conditioning our brains to find happiness virtually. We have hundreds of friends online to text and chat with, but when we close our phones or computers, who do we actually have with ourselves?
How many of us interact with strangers in a park or on a bus? None, ususally, because we aren’t supposed to, because we don’t know how those people are gonna turn out and react to us. But how many of us follow these same rules of interaction with strangers on social media?
In our heads the virtual space is our safe space, a place where we can express ourselves better, interact with strangers, make new friends. But isn’t all this display of emotions and interactions getting faker and faker along the way somewhere? Have we ever questioned ourselves about why do we need all those likes? All those comments? Why do we need all that virtual social acceptance? Why do we feel the compulsion to check and re-check our posts to see who liked, who commented what. Why is it that every time we read a negative comment, we feel a blow to ourselves?
I know many of you might be thinking, that doesn’t happen with me. But deep down even you know that you crave that social attention, that acceptance and the feeling of belongingness when your posts receive huge number of likes and comments. You feel satisfied, fulfilled. That’s from where the process of social loneliness (as I call it) starts, because once you’ve hit the mark, then you feel the pressure to keep hitting that mark. The pressure to do better next time, the pressure which makes you go take a million pictures and choose one to post. Because you need those likes and if they don’t come, you wouldn’t be validated.
In that pressure you neglect your real emotions and start pretending to be someone who you are not. You make your life picture perfect, when actually it isn’t that way. The more you share your emotions and moments online, the more you are isolating yourself from people in your real life. At first you find your happiness online, among people who you think are exactly like you. You start living two lives, and the virtual one increasingly becomes more important. Your real life you forget every time you hop onto that virtual rollercoaster. Until you reach a point where all the fun and thrill starts to fade, where you start to realise that this dual life is of no good. A point where you realise that virtual acceptance ain’t enough, you need someone to be by your side in real. That’s where the process of technological depression starts.
Then you start lapsing into self-hate, you think of yourself as not being good enough, like you are lacking something, and you start feeling lonely. No one actually knows how you feel, because in the virtual world, people only see what you make them see, and they cannot see beyond that. You, too, think that all the people are actually living that life which they share online, in comparison to which your life only seems fit for self-pity and self-loating. The truth is that no one is as happy as they show online.
After reading this you might think I am asking you to give up on social networking, but that’s not what it is. This is meant to make you understand whether you are using technology or are you being used by it.
Studies show that due to the excessive use of technology and social media, people have developed a dependency on it which leads to various psychological problems and diseases like FOMO (fear of missing out), insomnia, depression, and not to mention the ill effects of electronic gadgets on the eyes and the brain. Technology is not the problem in itself; it is in the way we use it where the problem lies. That is where we need to find the loopholes and fix them, to have a better life in real and not virtually.