Published:  12:09 AM, 15 September 2021

To Be or Not To Be With Social Media

To Be or Not To Be With Social Media
Social media sites are a recent and sometimes, controversial innovation. They enable people, by means of the internet, to get in touch with friends easily, without having to worry about interrupting them in the way that telephone calls might. All the information one requires is just a click away. Even a child of 8 years old  is aware of the many geographical places in Facebook  such as Stockholm, Oslo rather than through maps or books.

Despite having such unique advantages, social media have some pitfalls to put forth. Owing to the greater use of Facebook and Instagram it is widely suspected that these kids will slowly retire from books and the collective nation will fall into the vicious cycle of illiteracy.  Social media seems to have an aspect that appeals to the pleasure-seeking side of the brain. This is demonstrated by the constant urge users experience to check their social media accounts for replies, new messages, or new posts.

CNN's business research showed that 79 percent of smartphone users reach for their handsets within 15 minutes of waking up. The study further showed that 62% do not even wait for 15 minutes; rather they grab their phones as soon as they wake up.

Just like addictive substances, social media's pleasure- giving ability seems to have the ability to alter the brain pattern of tech users by delivering instant gratification. Scientific studies show that over- reliance on social media has similar effects on the pleasure center of the brain as addictive substance as users tend to experience a "high" just like people engaging in other habit -forming activities.

Envy and jealousy are considered normal emotions; however, they may wreak havoc on your brain and cause unhappiness. Most people on social media will only post the positive things and experiences that they are going through or will use funny anecdotes to make bad experiences appear lighten. When people compare their lives with others and start feeling sorry for themselves; they may end up with depressed, angry, lonely and frustrated. A study carried out by the University of Copenhagen discovered that many people today are suffering from "Facebook envy". This is a painful feeling people get when they see their friends on social media seemingly doing better compared to their own lives. Nothing describes the ancient saying "the grass is always greener on the other side"- better than Facebook envy. Surprisingly, the study discovered that people who refrained from using social platform felt more satisfied with their current lives.

The political landscape has changed quite a bit in the last couple of decades.  The internet has played a large role in this transformation. Social media, in particular, is now a serious factor in political campaigns and in the way people think about issue. Candidates and their supporters constantly post their views on Facebook and Twitter. Each party has its own pages, from which it broadcasts propaganda and requests for donations.

One of the ways that social media has transformed politics is the sheer speed at which news, poll result and rumours are shattered. Whereas in the pre internet  days people had to wait for the newspaper or TV news show to get the latest information, online news is a 24/7 phenomenon.

As with other types of political news, the internet has greatly increased the number of poll results we see each day. Social media has accelerated this even more. Not only do social media sites report the results of polls, you can actually participate in Facebook polls.

Polls results have a big influence on elections. This is true even if they are flawed. A poll can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if people think one candidate is far ahead in the race, they might conclude there's no point in voting for the under dry. When people are posting the latest poll results on social media throughout the day, there's a great deal of pressure on candidates to pull ahead of their opponents.  Political campaigns are now influenced by every story, whether true or not, that gets spread around social media. It's getting more and more difficult to separate actual news from fake news online. Social media makes this distinction especially confusing. The constant stream of memes, links and rumours about political lenders and candidates is a mixture of truth, lies, satire and speculation.

Internet voting is the new proposal in social media to which could lead to more people participating in elections. This could make social media even more influential, as people could literally vote moments after reading the latest comments or links they found on Facebook or Twitter.

While the photo-based platform got points for in self-expression and self-identity, according to a recent survey of almost 1, 500 teens and young adults in USA, they opined that Instagram is the worst social media network for mental health and well being. Instagram is associated with high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and FOMO or the "fear of missing out". Youtube has the highest marks for positivity and well being while Tweeter came in second, followed by Facebook and then Snapchat with Instagram in the back of a group.

Social media posts can also set unrealistic expectations and create feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. This may explain why Instagram, where personal photos take center stage, received the worst scores for body image and anxiety. As one wrote," Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren't good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look 'perfect'. When posting photos on social media, people usually include only photos that show them in the most positive light. Social media is often simply an illusion.As Barack Obama aptly puts in "Social Media cocoons the reality". This illusion results from people who pretend to be one person online but may be very different in person. The illusion can also result from people who highlight only one aspect of their lives or personality on social media.

Most importantly social networking sites have many critics who say that relationships formed through them, unlike face-to-face friendships, are too impersonal to be described as real friendships. They argue that it all very well to have a hundred cyber friends, but such a number of contacts devalues true friendship. Certainly, to describe a hundred people as your 'best' friends is absolute nonsense. Real meetings with friends for coffee or lust might be trivalised; if your friend has real on screen every detail of your life that week, and she yours, what are you to talk about? It is also found that too much social media leads to disconnection and loneliness - basically the opposite of what we are led to believe.

In short, surely social media has both pros and cons. But if all depends on the user at the end. The youth must particularly create balance between their academic performances, physical activites and social media. Excess use of anything is harmful and the same thing applies to social media. Therefore, we must strive to live a satisfying life with the right balance.

Nuzhat Rifa Ehsan writes in national English dailies

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