The Intricacies of Social Media
Image Credits: SELF Magazine
The current status quo in which we reside is incredibly popular in terms of social media. Social media has become a necessary social evil without which we cannot thrive. Though social media has given us a plethora of opportunities to explore, especially in times of pandemic, this has also given rise to incessant peer pressure and an inferiority complex. From spending hours on Instagram and scrolling through random reels to social media being a career option for some people, imagining life without social media is a daunting task. However, during the past 20 years, in particular, it has evolved into the mode of transportation for such a massive amount of our social activity that, for many people, it is now perceived as essential to their ability to interact with others. Without a doubt, social media in all of its forms has changed the world. Positively, technology has facilitated interpersonal and professional connections, provided friends and family with a new method of long-distance communication, and brought people from all over the world together to discuss common interests, advocate causes, and engage in philosophical debate.
Again, there are 4.33 billion users of social media who are active. With the world's population hovering around 7.9 billion, it doesn't take a math prodigy to figure out that more than half of all inhabitants of Earth utilize social media. According to DataReportal, the number of new social media users increased by 409 million in a single month in October 2021. Undoubtedly, the pandemic contributed to the current increase in social media users. It has been stated that social network usage increased by a staggering 21.3% between October 2019 and October 2020. Since the inception of 4G, we have tended to consume data like a bat out of hell. There was a time when we used to consume 1-2 GB of data in a month, but now we do that in a day! This says a lot about the rise of social media.
The Modern-Day Battleground:
This is completely understood: Social media has become an inseparable part of the current paradigm, but this comes with its own set of repercussions. For instance, the biggest and most inhumane thing that social media has inculcated in us is an inferiority complex.
Why do people post their pictures on Instagram or Facebook? Why do people keep sharing their life events on social media? Why do people post about their new jobs on LinkedIn? The answer is very simple. We all want to say out loud that my life is better than yours. I have a better love life; I have a better job; I’m happier than you; etc. All of this is deeply connected to the comparisons that we make with others. The very desire to look for validation is so deeply ingrained in us that we would go to any extent to get into the limelight. If you think that all of this is a made-up thing, then you should go to popular Instagram reels and check how many people are recreating it. Many researchers think that social networking's constant overstimulation causes the nervous system to enter fight-or-flight mode. Because of this, conditions including ADHD, teen depression, oppositional defiant disorder, and teen anxiety are exacerbated. However, some studies on social media and teen depression suggest that the causality is reversed, i.e., that kids use social media more frequently when they're depressed. In a 600-teen study, researchers discovered that while social media use did not predict depressive symptoms, more frequent depression symptoms did. Complex emotions, such as inferiority feelings, typically signify perceived helplessness and weakness. Individuals who feel inferior may suffer catastrophic consequences if prompt measures are not taken. Because they are often reluctant to ask for help in person due to privacy concerns, they frequently spontaneously express their thoughts on social media instead. This makes social media a good source for a wealth of inferiority-related data. To investigate the reasons for inferiority, we randomly chose a sample of posts suggesting inferiority emotions. Personal experience, social contact, romantic relationships, etc are the primary sources of inferiority sentiments.
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Taking a primary example from one of the most robust social media platforms of today’s generation, i.e LinkedIn, we may experience hyperactivity, atypical enthusiasm, social and extracurricular over-commitment, and academic difficulty after using LinkedIn. As well as sayings like "Congratulations, X," "Love your work," "so pleased to connect with you," and "I had a great time today expressing my love for vertical expansion and synergy," they also like to say things like "so delighted to connect with you." Because they all attended the same campus session, many have perfected the skill of seamlessly combining the top 20 LinkedIn buzzwords into a great profile summary. There are risks associated with using social media, including hacking, identity theft, cyberbullying, and incorrect data use. Then there are more subversive ones like loneliness, worry, and sadness. LinkedIn tells us we are not doing enough, much as Instagram tells us we are missing out. We may feel that we aren't funny or pretty enough on photo-sharing websites, but we may feel that we aren't educated or accomplished enough on resume-sharing websites, which are qualities that we are told are important. Additionally, it can be challenging to approach LinkedIn the same way we are advised to approach other social media networks. Avoiding synthetic relationships and trying to be truthful about our online personas and interactions with others are things we are expected to do. Nevertheless, we cannot deny the fact that apps like LinkedIn have paved the way for job opportunities for everyone, especially in the time of the pandemic, but all of this comes with its consequences.
The analogy of social media:
Social comparison opportunities grow as social media platforms evolve, making them more participatory and "highly addictive." Additionally, it makes self-determination's effects worse, such as sadness, anxiety, low self-esteem, bad body image, and disordered eating. Although seemingly unrelated, it is important to note that worrying mental health trends among young people, such as body image problems, anxiety, and depression, worsened at the same time that teen smartphone and social media use rose. It can be difficult to draw definitive connections between social media use and broader trends in mental health for a variety of reasons, but it is obvious that engaging in a lot of negative social comparisons is one of the numerous possible causes of these trends.
The daily interchange of information now takes place on social media. Few studies have looked at how everyday social media use affects people's thoughts and feelings about their careers, even though several have addressed the function and influence of social media on career development. Two surveys were used in the current study to evaluate this topic. We hypothesized that social comparison would function as a mediator between the psychological effects of social media use and consumption. Additionally, we predicted that social interactions would lessen the impact (companionship). Study 1 showed that watching other users' positive messages about their careers could result in career frustration through social comparison. Study 1 had 309 Japanese employees who self-reported their responses. This study revealed that other users’ positive posts about their careers could ignite a robust amount of social comparison. Additionally, this study found that career frustration was decreased by casual daily interactions with others. Study 2 was based on an analysis of 1,254 responses obtained from a 7-day experience sampling method survey. It revealed that viewing other people’s career-related posts was associated with upward, downward, and non-directional social comparison. In turn, upward social comparison evokes career frustration at both personal and professional levels.
No matter their age, people want to feel important. Everyone loves the sense of prominence or being the star of the show. This article examines the core of social media's terrible addiction. Regardless of what we say, social media has given us many pros, but the fact is, this came with a lot of terms and conditions. To be honest, this social comparison is something that we have to live with because, with time, social media is only going to evolve, and there is no turning back from here. This all depends on us and how we are going to adapt and perpetuate this necessary social evil. Evolution is something that has been constant in every age. Likewise, there is a very strong possibility that generation Z will come up with something very constructive and beneficial that is going to act as a strong defensive agent for this necessary evil.