2020 has been an eye-opener in many ways for the world. During these trying and unprecedented times, some turned to social media as a beacon of hope and entertainment, while some others took this opportunity to disconnect from the virtual world, relishing the beauty of the real world instead.
While social media has made it very easy to keep up with the rest of the world, it is accompanied by an entirely different kind of social pressure.
Even though everyone is at home, trying to spend some quality time with their families and their selves, there is a constant distraction in the form of mobile phones lighting up with new updates and messages every other minute.
We look around ourselves and see an entire generation trying to find an escape from reality by living their lives through a five-inch screen.
Social media is undeniably a double-edged sword; it takes away as much as it gives. It is, therefore, of importance to weigh out the good and the bad to make sure we don’t lose ourselves and become slaves of the screen.
- Bridge to the world:
No one can refute the fact that social media has kept us all connected during these trying times, helping us find support and hope in one another, despite the distances and restrictions. The pandemic was instrumental in taking a lot of time that could have been spent with loved ones, however, social media gave us all a little relief from the despair; we could just video call or message our friends and families whenever we missed, and spend hours talking to them, something that perhaps would have been difficult under normal circumstances. Furthermore, had it not been for social media, we would have never known or appreciated the efforts of our frontline workers in keeping us safe or been involved in several social movements that took place.
- A means of expression:
Mental health became more important than ever with the new shift in lifestyle. 2020 not only made us hit a pause button, but it also made us change our lifestyle. Such a sudden change can easily affect any individual mentally. For many, social media served as an outlet to express what they were going through, be it posting an image of how they were spending their days or a tweet to comment on how the pandemic was affecting them.
- Access to knowledge and entertainment:
Certain trends like home cooking, taking up short courses & live sessions kept many inspired to try things they couldn’t indulge in earlier.
It was interesting to see how simple things in life like making coffee or banana bread could bring people so much joy and take social media by storm! From taking online classes to using their time creatively to take up new hobbies that we would have otherwise been unable to pursue because of our hectic schedules, 2020 showed us how simple things in life can bring you happiness while staying at home.
- New era of business:
While it is true that businesses took a major hit but further into the year, business owners were compelled to go digital and connect with their audiences on a completely different platform. Many of them found an opportunity to reinvent and develop new and innovative strategies to tackle several challenges that they may face, at the same time expanding their horizons.
- Increased screen time:
Screen time went shooting high for the world as people started watching more content online resulting in mental, emotional & physical issues. With more screen time comes more content, be it negative or positive.
- Negativity travels faster online:
It is sad to see how negative news is picked up much faster than positive. Be it true or false, once the trend starts there is no looking back. Be it about a brand, company, or individual – once an influencer starts a trending story, it is picked up by the audience and passed along without analysing what it could do to the party spoken about.
- Unnecessary comparison:
Viewers tend to forget that not everything they see on social media is true. Almost all content posted is to portray an image of a perfect life, perfect skin, hair, lifestyle, and relationships, as not many people like to share the harsh realities of life. While they post to feel good about themselves, it ends up affecting oneself if they start comparing and dwelling on what they feel is lacking in their lives.
Misusing social media platforms to bully and blackmail people, spread nasty rumours and share spam content has gotten out of control and seems to evade every measure used to curb it. As a result, it puts a lot of strain on one’s mental and physical well-being, and in certain situations can be quite traumatic as well. It can leave a huge scar on one’s mind and have a serious impact on their lives going ahead, especially when the victims in question are children and teenagers.
To conclude, social media is a wonderful tool for networking and promoting good ideas, for staying connected, and broadening your horizons by educating yourself and making use of all the knowledge that the digital domain has to offer.
However, just like anything else, an excess can be harmful, and instead of making life easier, it can put a severe strain on their well-being. The solution to this lies in striking a balance between the virtual and the physical, and actively seeking content that uplifts and inspires you to do more.
About The Author
Mridul Sawhney is the Creative Director and Co-founder at AM Branding Co. She is equipped with a Fashion Communication degree from NIFT Bangalore where she was able to evolve her already keen design sensibility. With a front-row seat to the growing popularity of Instagram during her education, she mindfully honed her craft to rise about the clutter on social media rather than to blend into it.