BENGALURU: In less than two decades of its creation social media has become an inseparable part of our life. It once again stands to prove the fact that man is a social being. The launch of good quality phones in affordable prices and internet packages have further boosted the social media usage in India.
Social media helps us maintain connection with friends, family and professional contacts. It helps us create a persona of ourselves and makes us more accountable for our actions. The network of support provided through social media helps people achieve their goals. It helps us understand and accept various new trends. It also helps us find like minded individuals.But why does using social media feel so good? The answer is Dopamine.
It is a feel-good hormone created inside our body. It is the same chemical which makes us feel good when we consume chocolate, alcohol, smoke or gamble. The lack of age restriction and ease of access has lead to a steep rise in the usage of social media, specially among the millennials. But though it is a driver for change there is a darker side of social media.
Social media addition is something each of us are familiar with. Addiction is a compulsive behaviour that leads to negative effects. In this case, we constantly keep checking the phone for updates and also end up spending sleepless nights.
People build their virtual persona through social media and their happiness is linked to the appreciation they receive from their peers. Lack of the desired response leads to low-self-esteem and in certain cases, it also causes depression.
In a time where there is increasing stress from educational institutes, teenagers today try and use social media as a coping mechanism. They are more prone to addiction and it can affect their functionality. Over-use of it can also result in poor grades and unsuccessful relationships.
These traits are not specific to teenagers alone, even adults are often victims of social media addiction. It may be as innocent as clicking a photograph prior to ever meal, to regular check-ins, posting updates or stalking people. Social media has become more than a tool to communicate. The addiction to social media is soon becoming stronger than than drug addiction.
A recent study revealed that people who tend to spend more time on social media are at a higher risk of getting depression. The social comparison that takes place on social media, leads to inacurate self evaluation which eventually leads to identity crisis among individuals.
The first step towards the solution is the acceptance of the problem. Support from family and friends is equally important, as it can help boost the morale. The first step would be to time the period of usage of social media, and creating time for other activities. It is important to engage in other activities like sports, hobbies or investing in pets. These activities would lead to a more positive release and would help concentrate better.
The author is a practioner in the department of Psychiatry at Sakra World Hospital, Bengaluru.