There has been a trend of videos going around the various social media platforms, shared over a million times to encourage us to take time off our social media activites and focus more on the present instead. In fact, the most recent one currently trending on how a social media user can portray his life to be “super awesome” despite it being completely rock-bottom. And the best part? No one on social media cares if your life sucks. which is, painfully true.
Another video with 43,000,000 views, showing you how using social media actually causes you to, ironically, lose social connections.
With all due respect to social media, it has been an extremely useful invention. People can catch up on what’s going on around the world, latest trends, exciting events ongoing in their social circle eg. Someone’s getting married! In fact, everyone is more connected with one another such that even acquaintances would know all about your life before even meeting you in real life.
However, does anyone actually notice the subtle little ways that social media is actually sucking the soul out of our social life? You might be surprised, some people may be even better off without social media at all.
1) Using your phone in front of your friends and loved ones
Think back to the 20th century, or, 15 years ago, when social media was not invented. There was not much reason to use a phone all the time. In fact, phones were only used for important phone calls, be it for emergency or business. Text messaging frequency was not as furious as WhatsApp (heck, we were all capped by 500 SMS/month student plans)
This was also the era when people actually had a full meal time together at their dining tables. Families would eat lunch together, look at each other and discuss their daily experiences, share their joys and sorrows. Now all we have is this
In the past, whenever we said “I’m going to have lunch with my family / friends”, we meant it literally. The full duration.
Right now it’s more like “I’m going to surf Facebook/Twitter/Instagram with my friends while-having-lunch-along-with-it”.
HOW TO AVOID IT:
Just put your phone to rest for that 30 minutes! It wouldn’t kill you! Moreover, a heartfelt conversation and good listener begins with direct eye contact, face to face, phone off the table. You can’t expect anyone to take you seriously if your eyes are glued to your phone all the time. It’s bad business etiquette to do so, not to mention it also turns your date off within seconds if you are fidgeting with your phone during a private conversation!
2) Posting your problems to let the entire world know is never a good thing
Humans are naturally attracted to people who are optimistic and emit a positive aura around them. Vice versa humans are instantly turned off by people who are always pessimistic and negative all the time, citing impending doom and life is miserable. No one likes that all! And if it’s a surprise to anyone, no one likes to see negative statuses on their twitter and facebook feed.
Granted that you have 1000 followers, how many of them do you actually think cares about your life problems? Let’s face some harsh realities here. 1000 followers does not mean 1000 loved ones. I’d dare say that it is extremely rare for someone to have over 10 loved ones in the first place, excluding family.
Before the birth of social media, whenever we went through a life crisis, say, a break-up, a divorce, bankruptcy, or getting fired, failing exams – we would cite these problems to only our closest family members and a circle of best friends. Did we go out of our houses and announced to everyone walking by about our problems? No, because we would be seen as lunatics. I have to emphasize here that unless it is a very close friend, no one can be bothered that your pet dog just died or relative passed away. Posting your sad problems on facebook looks more like a cry for attention (to your 990 “followers” who actually don’t care) and only a cause for concern for your 10 truly loved ones.
HOW TO AVOID IT:
If you really do have a problem, get off social media, call your loved ones and confide with them about it. Always remember who are the ones who will come rushing to your side (physically) and lend you their shoulder in times of trouble. A facebook comment or twitter reply to your depressing status DOES NOT count as “comfort”.
And, let’s face it. We will all eventually face our quarter-life and mid-life crisis. Just, not with 1000 acquaintances.
3) Relativity of Good News and Bad News
The best example to explain this. I have a friend who posted a status on lamenting that he “Failed to get into local university. Have to go overseas for private university instead. FML”
I have another friend who posted a status lamenting “Have to skip studies for this year, gotta earn money so I can afford a private degree next year”
The first guy is already privileged enough to be able to afford an overseas education, while the second one needs to work hard in order to afford an education in the first place. Both are complaining. On social media
The thing about ‘bad news’ and ‘problems’ is, no matter how big you think your problems are, there is always someone out there, even your friend(s), who has a problem bigger than yours. And when you make the big mistake of posting your “big” problem, which is in fact, not even a legitimate problem that affects your life and health, you might unintentionally end up looking like a spoilt brat in front of all your followers. The #FirstWorldProblem ugly effect comes into play here.
Now another problem comes when it’s related to “good” news. There will always be a secret, unhealthy rivalry going on among all your 1000 followers on Facebook. No one actually admits it, but I’ll just put it out here:
If you post an album of your vacation and claim it to be an “Epic backpacking adventure to Thailand under $1000 for a whole month!”, I can guarantee that someone will eventually come up with an even better adventure, “Epic backpacking adventure from Singapore to China by LAND, under $1000 for 3 months!”
And that sort of news could make one feel like their good news just became normal news, or no news at all. Let’s not even get started on the ‘Selfie’ war that’s ongoing 24/7 on our feed. Pretty girl posts a selfie, followed by an even prettier girl’s selfie. Jealousy ensues.
HOW TO AVOID IT:
Similar to #2, honestly, no one except your loved ones could really be bothered by your “bad” news, or “good” news. Your news will always be trumped by someone else. This is similar to the lines of “Don’t compare. Someone will always be better or worse than you”
4) Don’t ever compare your life to others. Especially through social media.
Consistent to the above mentioned paragraph, Don’t compare. Almost half, if not more, of the things you see on your social media feed is a lie. Your friends are not enjoying life all the time. They aren’t always happy 24/7 of the time, they are not always going out shopping, travelling, eating 5-star restaurant cuisines and succeeding every step in life all the time. They are just good at posting the best bits of their lives, while the sad bits are covered, concealed, swept under the rug. After all, people love to show off the impression that they are doing extremely well in their lives. You can see thousands of photos of happy couples on your news feed, however, are you certain that all the couples you know are completely happy in their relationship? Life has it’s ups and downs. The downs are not publicized. The ups are amplified. Everyone leads their own normal, happy life, and happiness is yours to decide. Speaking from an average Singaporean’s point of view, everyone’s lives would typically follow this route.
Primary school -> Secondary School -> JC/Poly/ITE -> NS (for guys) -> Workforce/Further Education -> Marriage(optional) -> More Work -> Retirement
And that’s that! All your 1000 followers on Facebook WILL follow this standard trend, unless if they are a special outlier like Steve Jobs who dropped out of college and made an impact on the entire world by founding Apple then yeah. There is nothing to be ashamed about leading a normal life. 7 billion people on the planet are going through life with you.
HOW TO AVOID IT:
Just don’t compare! Your life is yours to decide if it’s successful or happy or not.
5) Spending time on Social Media means less time spent in Reality
Try to come up with an ‘Expecto Patronus’ charm i.e. Think of the happiest moment(s) you’ve ever had in your life. Was it the time you fiddled with your phone during a vacation to Hawaii? Or the time you were checking out our Instagram shares at a birthday party? I’m guessing not.
The best moments in life occur in reality. While we are experiencing it, embracing it with our 5 physical senses. When we whip out our camera phones or furiously posting status updates, we fail to fully appreciate what’s in front of us, and live the moment. Remember, in the past, when gadgets haven’t been invented, people could still tell stories of the time they laid out flat on a field of flowers and basked in the sunlight. Now it’s really a plethora of selfies and #nofilter photographs all over the place.
BOTTOMLINE Will you regret the time where you forgot to check your phone for notifications and updates, or snapped a picture? No. Will you regret the time where you neglected your loved ones because you were too busy getting caught up with your news feed? I would.
Jackie Loh; Writer The Influencer Media