With great freedom comes great responsibility, goes the famous saying as it reveals everything that's wrong with today's social media. We have always seen that it is not the tool or a medium that's good or bad. Instead, it is the usage of a particular medium that makes it good or bad, or advantageous or disadvantageous. However, from a broader perspective, we have seen the negative factors as more forceful, destructive, and abusive.
And despite all of our effort, we remain unable to shun or curb the adverse effects. Even if any master control is applied, they seem to find their way through some loophole. It is true that despite controlling it to an extent, it will overwhelm us at some point. And, social media usage is no exception to this. As we progress toward advanced eras of tech, we seem to encounter intensified challenges.
These challenges are related to our social and private life, as well as privacy. It has become much harder to safeguard your confidentiality or of your loved ones. Similar issues have affected those who are the primary users or, better said, consumers of the online world. The excessive or harmful usage of social media has taken a toll on the youth's mental health. In this scenario, it merits discussing some of those effects to save our future generations. So, let's start reviewing them.
1. Depression and Anxiety
The excessive or sometimes even moderate use of social media brings heightened concerns. While remaining connected with others also brings relief, the negative side is overpowering. The feelings that it causes are depression and anxiety. The fundamental reason for the feelings is an inferiority complex that gives rise to negativity. The strong link between social media and mental health has been forcing many to the wall. The youth are its main target with the worst kind of anxiety that steals their joy. It also results in disorders, some of which can be threatening.
2. Never-Ending Sense of Loneliness
One of the significant issues related to social media is a never-ending sense of loneliness. No matter what sort of connections you have online, it results in loneliness in one form or another. The primary reason behind this is that it can never be a substitute for ‘real,’ tangible or long-lasting relationships. The connections and ties we have in the outside world exist and flourish because they are natural. It means that they carry the senses and feelings in a somewhat real, practical way. When we distance ourselves from it and replace them with online ties, things start to get problematic.
3. Inclination Towards Self Harm
One of the most adverse effects of social media use is that it may gradually force an individual to indulge in self-harm. This self-harm may exist in many shapes and forms and affect a youth unknowingly and out of the blue. This sort of harm is related to harming oneself physically, but it has undeniable effects on mental health. Every moment spent considering self-harm brings enormous suffering in terms of mental health. There are several examples of youth harming themselves and streaming the instance on social media. Such cases may also lead to suicide before anyone could realize the gravity of the situation. If we think about it, in such incidents, social media instead acts as an incentive, encouraging one to indulge in self-harm. In many cases, the self-harm is due to intense online bullying and trolling.
4. Discontentment With Self
Another aspect many social media users, especially youth, have encountered is the consistent feeling of discontentment. The ever-demanding world of social media requires every person to come up to the expectations of others. However, this isn’t practically possible, nor is it needed. There is constant pressure to meet a specific criterion of appearance, physique, or wealth or perfection status. Sooner or later, this creates feelings of partial or absolute discontentment among the users. And, ultimately brings the feelings of unhappiness with self and with the world.
5. One’s Perpetual Isolation
Social media brings many side effects, and the list is long as far as the negative ones are concerned. It comes in the context of the issues of loneliness that we discussed earlier. When you are continuously confined in your home, staring at a laptop or cell phone's screen pushes you further. You start being isolated from the rest of the world and tend to live in an imaginary one. It forces you to be a prisoner of your world and suffer perpetual isolation from a broader perspective.
As human beings, we have preexistent goodness in us and show an inclination toward seeking a positive side in everything. In terms of social media, too, we often try to portray a good picture of it. We aim to allow our youth to embrace the online world. But often, we may overlook the bigger picture, driving the young minds into the dungeons of loneliness, isolation, depression, and even self-harm. Tackling this requires that we revisit our policies relating to social media and devise realistic yet pragmatic rules of engagement.