The amount of time that teens and adults are spending on Social Media is constantly increasing, day by day. With the enormous technological revolution giving us swifter internet speeds, billions of people can now access data intensive apps like YouTube and Instagram easier than ever before.
Therefore, it is integral that we start talking about the time we spend on social media and how it changes our personality over time.
Time spent on Social Media
We live in a world where our ‘real’ lives are overtaken by the virtual world. People are sharing more and more posts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and what not. A significant part of our lives is now spent on social media platforms. In fact, I found the following infographic on the Internet:
Of course, not all of us spend this amount of time on these platforms. Some of us spend a little more time and some a little less. If you add up the above numbers, we get a total of 1 hr and 16 minutes. This number is the global average. Considering that only 47% of the world’s population has access to the internet, it is only logical that in the countries which have access to high-speed internet, people spend more time on Social Media. For example, according to a recent study, the average youth spends up to 5 hours per day on Social Media in America. That may not seem a lot, but when you see the bigger picture, here is a break up of the time we spend on social media in a lifetime:
So now, here we are. Spending around 5 Years of our life (mostly youth) in a virtual world. Imagine what we could have done otherwise in that time.
These social media platforms — Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. have no doubt proved to be a really good medium for information exchange. There are those who come online to pass time by looking at useless posts (Sure, they might have an emotional impact, but not so much in terms of knowledge every time), and then there are those who look out for ways to learn at these platforms — Learning by watching videos from YouTube channels, Facebook groups, Quora answers, etc. Well, at least some of us have something to gain after we spend so much time there. Nice.
Effects of living in a Virtual World
With some statistics established, it seems fair enough for me now to say that a significant ‘chunk’ of our real life is spent in a virtual world. This causes us to live a dual life — One real and the other: Virtual. The time we have in a day is split between trying to live both of those lives simultaneously. This creates a mashed up version of reality — even if we don’t unanimously agree upon it. This causes us to be defined not only by the way we look or the way we think, but also by our social media posts. I’ll talk more about this in the section below:
The ‘Dark’ Side
But what happens when we share posts on these social media platforms is that we start relating them to being an image of how we want other people to perceive us. We feel like the type of snapshots we share on Instagram, or the stories we put on Facebook define the type of life we live and then we follow up to that reputation by living that character that we portray knowingly or unknowingly. Some of might argue that this is not the case for them — they don’t care what other people perceive of them. While this is true and even good, unfortunately, I think that all of us are (even if a bit slightly) affected by the amount of likes and the amount of comments we get on our social media posts. Maybe, just maybe, what we are essentially doing is trying to look cool on these social media platforms. We only share the best moments of our lives — the best thoughts, best achievements and the best photos. Whatever it may be, it creates a type of social obligation (again, it may not be for some people, but it is now, for most of the youth) on us to make our lives look cooler than they actually are. The topic I am discussing about is not how ‘cool’ our lives are, but the reality of the posts we share on these social media sites.
What this does — according to me is that it creates a ‘Boomerang’ effect. The action you take, goes around and gets back at you.
Whenever we share some ‘cool’ moments of our lives on social media, we sure want others to see it. And guess what, they do. The next thing that happens (as a part of our human nature) is that whoever sees those posts, they have an immediate psychological mental reaction to the post. Even they want to portray themselves as having a great social life — in order to get the social acceptance that no matter how much you deny, every human wants. So they start going places or sharing better pictures on Instagram. This thing may not happen instantly, but if you ask yourself, you know that somewhere or somehow, this can happen over time. And then you see the posts that your friends have shared — Like having dinner with people at an expensive hotel that you know if not affordable for you. Seeing how good the lives of your friends are, can sometimes start making you hate your own life. Yeah, the scientific term for this feeling is called Depression — the word as we know it. Well, this happened for them too, if you shared a good post too.
The overall effect of this sharing of posts is that even though our lives are better than, say it would have been 500 years ago, of course, due to technological advancement, we are ever less happy than we used to be before joining social media. Even if someone is happy, that indirect obligation of constantly living in the same state, or better — is on them, at least according to me.
I think that people should try not to portray themselves as someone else on social media. Be who you are. Don’t think that in order to gain social acceptance, you have to show your life as being ‘cool’. Remember the best person you can ever be — is yourself. Well, this goes for the other side as well — stop trying to show your life as being perfect on social media. All those stories and those posts. They might cause another person to feel sad about their life.
Note: These are my personal views, they don’t essentially have to match up with your thinking. This article shares what I, or what I think others feel about social media.
Author: Rahul Khandelwal
Data scientist | Writer | Music lover