The first article of this series highlighted positive aspects of social media, and how it is not as bad as we perceive it to be. That said, one can simply not deny that these platforms have a dark side to them as well. We all have, at some point in time, watched or read the news about how people have fallen prey to various issues arising on social media. These controversies are a reminder of the fact that our conduct, usage of, as well as perception towards the same will determine our online experiences – be it good or bad. On one hand, we have people spreading awareness & saving lives through social media platforms, and on the other hand, we also have cases of people who were hurt or abused because of it.
While there are many articles online that speak about the ill-effects of social media usage, I would like to add on to that bit and elaborate a little on how to avoid trouble by dealing with these negative factors effectively, and coping with the stress it tends to bring along.
Body Image Issues
One of the most common negative outcomes of social media usage is the development of body image issues among people. With various brands and fashion houses promoting thinness, individuals around the globe experience dissatisfaction with the way they look.
Dealing with It
Acceptance towards oneself is key. There is a reason why people question others accepting you when you are unable to accept yourself first. Remember, your body will undergo constant changes (sometimes mild, sometimes drastic) during the course of your life. There will always be a difference in your appearance at twenty versus how you look at thirty. Perception is another valuable tool here – instead of feeling low over how you look, you can instead seek inspiration from those around you, and take initiative towards living a healthier lifestyle by working upon the desired changes.
Distraction and Procrastination
This is yet another commonly found repercussion of the overuse of social media. Almost all of us have, at some point, delayed our tasks and errands because we were preoccupied with Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and so on. Students in particular will very well be able to identify with their exam time situation wherein they know they must prepare for their upcoming paper, but are unable to stop browsing through their newsfeeds online, or exchanging Snapchat photos containing the latest animal filters that happen to be in vogue at present. The concerns of distraction & procrastination are things that should be addressed in a timely manner in order to ensure one’s efficiency & productivity.
Dealing with It
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of people getting distracted owing to social media, is to tell them to turn their internet off. Yes, you read that right! For somebody who has pending work that would demand their time and attention, it would be wise to turn off their wifi/internet data pack while they are at work, so as to convince their mind to stop checking their mobile phones or laptops every now and then. Neither social media nor our errands are our entire lives, which is why it is important that we compartmentalise these different aspects of it to promote self-growth and self-development.
Reel v/s Real World
We often see people use this phrase in order to bring out the differences between what may seem idealistic and serene, and what ground reality really is. Speaking of social media, what you get to see there is what people choose to show you, and vice versa. Studies suggest that teenagers who use too much of Facebook are prone to developing certain psychological implications such as mania, aggressive tendencies, and even antisocial behaviour among others. We all like to portray the best versions of us to the world, and so as individuals, we end up filtering out those aspects of our lives that people in our social circles would most love to see.
Eventually, what the reel v/s real world theory lead to is something we call ‘social comparison’. All of the social websites, especially the image-based ones such as Instagram and Snapchat promote our tendency to presume that others are happier than us, which in turn leads to one developing negative moods.
Dealing with It
The grass may often seem greener on the other side; however, every individual has their own fair share of challenges to face, which is why I would suggest that you avoid buying what you see online at face value. Let us keep in mind that every patch of grass also carries its own set of insects and germs. Being conscious towards both sides of a coin will help us look at the bigger picture, and thus enable us to appreciate ourselves some more.
Remember, social validation is not a measure of your self-worth. If each one of us were to compare ourselves to those around us, then there would be only one happy person in the world – be it in terms of wealth, fame, or beauty. Our contentment lies in our own hands. It is only when we allow our happiness to depend upon such factors that we always tend to experience discomfort in some form or another.
Salad of Information
Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are seen brimming with posts that are likely to trigger stress and anger. We’re all different individuals with core beliefs and value systems of our own, so what may agree with some, may seem discomforting to a few others. Many-a-times, people tend to get involved with a piece of article, blog, or news to an extent that it may feel distressful in the end – something that is not just uncalled for, but something that we must all learn to avoid.
Dealing with It
Experiencing stress or anger over information found on social media websites can be emotionally taxing for many, which is why one must first look to authenticate content prior to investing their time in the same. By doing so, a person will save themselves from quite some bit of stress, and feel relatively more content.
When I say ‘unfavourable incidents’, it is basically codeword for ‘meeting the wrong kind of people’. In India particularly, we often come across episodes in shows such as Crime Patrol and Savdhaan India about how adolescents, teenagers, and even young adults land themselves into trouble by associating with people online who intend to do more harm than good. I am not generalising things by saying that every stranger or known person is the bad guy. While some of us are unknown to such unforeseen experiences, some on the other hand have fallen prey to the same.
Dealing with It
First thing’s first – be alert even while you’re having fun over social media platforms. Some of you may share without a care – this should not be the case in order to ensure your safety and wellbeing. Although the online world is full of entertaining things, as mentioned by me before, there is a dark side to it as well, and we’re all better off being away from it.
Cyberbullying is an offensive act that may involve sending of nasty or threatening texts, setting up social networking profiles of another person to poke fun or defame them, harassing somebody on a social networking platform through repeated messaging, sending of sexually explicit content, or even ‘happy slapping’ i.e., posting/sharing videos of people undergoing physical attack or abuse. As per a survey conducted on over 15,000 people, girls are just as likely, if not more likely in comparison to boys to experience cyberbullying – both as a victim as well as an offender.
From a Psychological perspective, cyberbullying is often related to low self-esteem, frustration, anti-social behaviour, rage, and even substance abuse among others. In present times, it has become yet another commonly found concept existing within social media platforms, with individuals being bullied online due to their religion, caste, home-country, ethnicity, political views, physical appearance, public figures or organisations that they seem to support, or simply because of varying perspectives over a common topic.
Dealing with It
Tackling a cyberbully or an act of cyberbullying can be bothersome, however, it must not be taken lightly; But before we come to a point of being bullied online, it is important that we prevent such things from happening in the first place by protecting our contact information and passwords from one and all, thinking well before sharing posts/videos of our friends online, as well as refraining from creating or forwarding nasty messages to people. Despite taking all safety measures, if one still happens to be a victim of cyberbullying, then they could report such events to their respective ISP i.e., Internet Service Provider. Another way could be seeking guidance from somebody you trust – be it a parent, sibling, friend, or teacher, or even turning to Anti-bullying Ambassadors for further help and support.
And finally, a lot of the things that happen to us are the outcomes of our own choices and actions, therefore we must think before we act. Our thoughts and perceptions mould us into the person that we eventually become, hence it is important that we are wise while using something as powerful as the social media platforms of today.
In the end, there is nothing more priceless and valuable than our peace of mind, and so one must avoid putting that at risk come what may.