A status for all things

A status for all things

A status for all things

Last night, while browsing through the social media pages on my computer, among the many status updates, there was also a picture of my old friend, Rashmi.

She looked ravishing in a peacock blue georgette sari with a green halter neck blouse. There were many “likes” and comments on her wall about how beautiful she looked. “Wow!” I typed but then before hitting the enter button, I deleted my comment. Let me call her, I decided. She would be very happy to get a call from me.

Rashmi was indeed elated, to hear my voice after so long and it was fun catching up. After a heart-to-heart conversation, when we were about to hang up, promising to call each other more often, I confessed, ‘Rashmi, your beautiful picture on social media prompted me to call you,” I said.

‘Thanks,” she replied. “But please can you ‘like’ my picture and leave a nice comment for me. I want my stylish friends to know that I can get more ‘likes’ than them.”

“You look hot and sexy!” I typed and uploaded my comment on her wall. But as I did so, I found myself wondering — What matters more to Rashmi — my public comment praising her beauty or the soul enriching conversation that we had just had?

Social media has changed the way we communicate and our thought processes. The very essence of life is undergoing a metamorphosis, courtesy our social media afflicted lives. Sample this. As a nightly ritual, reclining on your bed, you scroll through the happy statuses of Friends. Foreign vacations, children studying abroad, high flying social dos, a promotion, new Merc that someone’s husband gifted her. You hit “like” for all of them and comment on some.

But as you hit the “like” button, you find that you are assessing your own life. When the picture of the bungalow that your friend has recently bought flashes before you, the hairline crack in your bedroom wall appears deeper. Your fun-filled holiday to Ooty last month looks lacklustre in comparison to someone’s tour of Europe. Your frown lines appear more prominent in front of the glossy pictures of the party you were not invited for.

Suddenly you feel inadequate, unaccomplished, unhappy and poorer. Does this scenario seem familiar? If not, then either you are lying or you are on a social media detox diet.

Bridge the gap

Social media, the greatest invention of 21st century was created to build virtual bridges across continents, help people stay connected, trace old friends and rekindle romances – all for free. But like everything else, social media too has its side effects.

The Internet is overloaded with studies that show that social media creates more barriers than the bridges it is supposed to build. The happy statuses become the yardstick for us to measure our own worth. Others’ successes make us feel like a failure no matter how accomplished we are in our own spaces. The online comparisons linger to take the form of depression, even after we log out.

But why do you get depressed? Don’t you know that these pictures portray only one side of the story and these people who are posting pictures of husbands gifting them solitaires also have bad hair days? Have you ever seen their pictures when their hair is not in place, the double chin is showing, the paunch is out, the back is hunched, mouth slightly open and their front teeth protruding a little extra? Who posts such pictures? We post only happy pictures with perfect captions like “my bestest husband. You are the only reason for my smile.”

We are aware of all these facts but the mind forgets all logic when it sees a glittering diamond necklace or a holiday paradise. For instance, I find myself wishing that my husband was richer or that he loved me enough to gift me diamonds. I go paranoid when I see pictures of my friends on a vacation in Australia while I can only afford a trip to Wayanad in a non-AC bus.

Acceptance is the key

There is always an internal struggle as we wonder — Can’t I be the fairest of all?

No. You cannot. Accept it or not, there is always someone out there who is more beautiful, popular, wise, intelligent, wealthy, witty and smarter than you.

My neighbour Ananya is a self-proclaimed social media junkie. Her kitty parties, family picnics, a new rose in her garden, her kid’s school day — every occasion calls for a pictorial status update.

Dressed in trendy outfits carrying a Coach bag or wearing a Prada dress, her pictures would give every woman a complex. ‘It gives me a high seeing so many comments and likes but when others get more likes than me, I go into self-doubt. Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night to check who has commented on my new picture and if there are very few comments then I can’t sleep. I feel I am no good,’ says Ananya candidly.

No matter what the pitfalls are, getting social media out of our lives is not an option. It has more pros than cons and we have come too far to even think of abandoning it altogether. Whether you are a homemaker using social media for fun, an author promoting your book, a trainer or a counsellor looking for work, a trekker promoting adventure sports or someone who likes to hang out to see what others are doing, you know you can’t do without social media. You may not be able to do without it, but you can surely tame it.

Priority check

Don’t let an excess or lack of “likes” hit you. People are just being kind when they leave nice comments on your status and fewer comments doesn’t mean that you are no good.

Prioritise your day. Is leaving comments on social media more important than talking to people who matter? Spend time on productive activities. Clean your house, read a book, cook, paint, talk to your children, meet real friends or play with your dog — there are plenty of things to do to fill your day productively.

Manjiri Prabhu, a bestselling author and Founder of Pune International Literary Festival says, ‘Comparison is like an unspoken process of self-assessment and we all fall prey to it. The best way to get a grasp on reality, and not get obsessed by the opinions on social media, is by being honest with yourself.

Have a continuous dialogue with yourself and assess your needs. Once you are clear about what really matters to you, then other images, yardsticks, external and public approvals will automatically dissolve and what will emerge is your own success story. Celebrate it!’

Get real

It is important to remember that all that glitters could be imitation. We live in times when everything is on sale, including the number of likes, comments and shares on social media, so why let it affect us. And even if the comments and likes are genuine, we know life is not fair. It is not worth losing our sleep over someone’s happiness. To each his own.

Make real friends. Nurture friendships. It is so much fun to catch up with friends over coffee than connecting virtually. Studies prove that when we listen to people’s achievements face-to-face, the emotion of jealousy is replaced with the feeling of pride at having such accomplished friends.

Limit your time on social media. My cousin Sapna often takes a break from social media when she feels she is losing her sanity by peeping into people’s lives. ‘When I return after two weeks, I don’t feel I have missed anything nor has anyone missed me. It makes me wonder about the use of social media,’ says Sapna.

Social media is a wild animal which can do amazing stuff but if we allow it to run amok then it can steal all our happiness. It is up to us to “like” or “react” to it.

 

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