After a few months of restrictions, people are now finally able to socialise. The other day as I was minding my own business (I promise, I was!), I saw a lady who was elegantly dressed, heading out for dinner most probably, with her partner. As he walked casually, lo and behold, the lady had her phone in her hand, ready for a solo-selfie whilst walking. And a realisation dawned upon me – what have we become slaves of?
Undoubtedly, the selfie might have ended up on social media. If not her, most of us probably upload our selfies on social media sites, such as Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook, within minutes of taking them. The saddest part, although it may not apply to all of us, is that many people look forward to events or special days with the excitement of sharing the photos on social media. All our actions are propelled towards looking good, presentable, trendy and attractive in those shots. We advertise our whole lives on our social media handles. I am sorry, let me rephrase: we advertise all the good aspects of our lives on social media, sharing them with those in our ‘virtual circle’.
But the question is…why do we exhibit this behaviour and how did social media gain so much power over us?
From personal experience, I noticed that most of us seek our happiness from others. The appreciation we hear from others, the sweet sound of praise with various vocal tones, the love we receive through all those ‘likes’ and ‘loves’ to our posts- they give us this temporary strength. Although many of us know that this show of care and love from others is merely conditional, we still fall for them again and again. And it’s almost addictive.
In a world where normality has lost its importance, going out for dinner or to a wedding with our close friends and family members no longer gives us any thrill. Why would it? Who really cares if your sister tells you: ‘You look so beautiful today.” We want bigger and better, we want a following. And why? Because we wish to feel our existence. We wish for others to approve of our existence. Albeit a false sense of existence. But being approved of on social media makes us feel as if we exist, we matter, we are seen and we are important. And it all boils down to the ego. Our seed of insecurity or our sense of vulnerability of being forgotten one day, has found an outlet of reassurance.
Social media keeps growing, we get new followers, new friends, new comments. If some stop liking us, it’s okay, we never run out of ‘following’. Or perhaps we are in denial. When we start seeking for outside approval, let alone finding joy in solitude, we also fail to witness the joy in our immediate surroundings. But unfortunately in this never ending search of being loved and liked by strangers we get lonelier day by day.
But like most things, social media also has a lot of pros including this subtle and effortless way it provides for us to keep in touch with others across the oceans and touching lives in a way we could’ve never imagined in the past. However, in our pursuit for happiness, when we become too attached to the fruits of our ‘shares’ and allow our lives to revolve around those social media and micro-blogging sites, we end up stepping into a spiral of misery. And from stepping into this misery several times, I have learnt that social media must merely be a tool to reach out, and not a means of distraction from our true self. When we find a higher purpose to live by and feel comfortable with ourselves and our surroundings, the need for social media reduces drastically. Additionally, something wonderful happens. We realise that everything shared on social media should be interpreted with caution and comparison is a poison we should avoid tasting.
The real wisdom regarding social media has been touched upon by The wisest of the wise, as He spoke about the Weapons of Mass Distractions. Everything we need to know about online distractions has been written by our Om Swami Himself, in that beautiful post.
Maybe I should’ve just dropped the thought when I spotted that lady taking a selfie! But of course, I didn’t. So, one thought led to another, and here I am! And here you are too:)