As I’m lying here, basking in the warm sand of Bronte beach, watching the waves crash, reading a good book and drinking a fresh cold-pressed juice – my desire is, let me post this on Instagram.
When describing myself, I would not characterise myself as a showoff, someone who wants to flaunt to the world. Nor would I say that I am insecure, bored or an unhappy person. (We generally attribute these characteristics to people who are constantly posting on social media). I think I am a fairly average person, you know the usual ups and downs, but happy, motivated and fulfilled. And yet, here I am on a gorgeous Sunday, having the urge to post.
Why? I ask myself. Why do I have this desire to post? Am I not happy within myself? Do I want to prove myself to the world? Do I want to boast and make others jealous?
As these thoughts cross my mind, I shrug them off, and sure enough, I post. Albeit, only on my story, which I know will only last 24 hours and go away. Yet the next day, when I baked the most delicious choc chips cookies, the desire returned. It gets even worse. Aside from my Jewish rituals, the first thing I do when I wake up, and the last thing I do before I go to sleep is check my social media.
Yikes, without me even realising, I have become one of the many billions of victims to social media.
The harm that social media fuels is unparalleled, mainly harbouring extreme jealousy. Jealous of that perfect family, their gorgeous house and their delicious food. Jealous of that couple that travels the world and stays in luxurious hotels. Jealous of that friend who seems to have the perfect marriage. One cannot underestimate how deep-rooted this jealousy can be, and what horrendous effects it can cause.
And yet, whom are we fooling? We all know social media is merely a façade and promotes such a fallacy. We take a billion pictures until we find the perfect one, one second smiling, the next crying, oh what we do ‘for the gram!’
So why are we all addicted to social media when we can easily see the harm it causes?
I am no psychologist, so please do not quote me, but this is what I have realised from personal experience:
For those who have been MIA, FOMO stands for “fear of missing out.” Since all our friends and community have fallen for this falsity, we genuinely have FOMO. Gone were the days when we would dial our friends home phones and discuss how their day was. Nowadays, we post. Posting is our way of showing our friends what we are up to. It’s crazy when you think about it – I know exactly what a random acquaintance got up to today, and I wouldn’t even say hi to her on the street. That said, my best friends, whom I want to share my day with, may not even know what I’ve been up to, but ironically, I post for the rest of the random strangers to see. Makes sense? Nope!
I put this in quotation marks because although my heart feels that way, my mind knows it is far from it. Personally, social media makes me feel good. Every time I get that like or comment, “Wow, Chavi looking good,” or “OMG, those cookies look amazing, what’s the recipe,” I feel rapt. That positive feeling is the rush of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that creates feelings of pleasure and desire. That dopamine release is so powerful that studies have shown it is harder to stop social media than to resist cigarettes or alcohol! (Journal of Psychological Science)
Every so often, I reassure myself that I use social media to keep up to date with the news. With social media, it is so much easier to see what’s going on in the world, I simply ‘like’ the channels I want, and I get all my news in a one-stop-shop. This is true, and for me, this would be the only real value of social media, yet I do not believe it weighs up for all the adversary effects.
Many claim that social media is an excellent way of keeping in touch and staying connected. From an accessibility perspective, this is entirely accurate. The platform of social media does make it so easy and convenient. Indeed, I sometimes fall upon that long-lost friend from way back when, and we have a nice little ‘how are you’ convo. But generally, I do not need social media for those I want to keep in touch with. If I genuinely want to connect with someone, I will ring them up or message them. So, in my opinion, KIT is not enough of a reason.
I am not here to bash social media. I have numerous accounts and use them daily. I am simply just sharing my thoughts and deliberately wanting to cause thought-provoking questions. My goal is to remind us to take a step back and think about something we all access every day. It says that the tents of Israel were deliberately placed in a position where they did not face each other. No one could peep and look into someone else’s home. There was complete privacy, and consequently, peace. This was the actual praise that Balaam the prophet gave to the Jewish nation, “How lovely are your tents, O Jacob; your encampments, O Israel!” (Numbers 24:5). I envy my few friends who did not fall for this trap. Their lives do not revolve around what others are doing. They don’t know and don’t care. They don’t waste their time, and they focus on themselves.
So how do you think we can stop being victims?