If Social Media Makes You Feel Bad, Quit Using It
Darius Foroux

I stopped using social media. About two years ago. Why ? Let me explain.

I started to use Orkut, and then upon arrival, Facebook, very enthusiastically. I also urged almost everybody I knew to join. I thought it was a very good way to keep in touch with our friends and aquaintances. I knew that after finishing college life, all of us will scatter all over the world to earn a living. By sharing thoughts and posting photos of our lives in these “social” media, I thought we can manage a very crucial aspect of our lives, namely relationships. Keeping relationships alive for life was my sole purpose of using these “social media”.

But slowly and surely, that purpose got transformed. There were two major reasons which affected how I used it.

First, if I would use a newsfeed (which are available constantly) and express my opinion on it, some people would strangely start to attack me personally. I might know some of them, some of them might be unknown to me; but the personal attacks were sometimes so vicious that no matter how thick-skinned one might be, they get under the skin. Difference in opinion is always welcome. Attacking any opinion by sound logic is the way of debating. But attacking ad hominem is not only illogical, but indecent too.

Second, postings of other people. These “other” people, relatives, aquaintances, friends, confreres, they are ALWAYS happy. No matter at what phase they are in their lives, they are always super-happy and contented.

The first reason made me angry. The second reason made me sad. And who wants to be angry and sad ?? So I stopped using them. Outright. About two years ago.

The real reason behind such adverse reactions on me of these “social” media has nothing to do with goodness or badness of the “social” media. But it is my wrong handling of them. How ?

The term “social” in social media is a misnomer. There is no society. It is a virtual world.( Internetworked media would be a perfect term for it. But of course, social media definitely sounds nice. That is how the term got currency, I suppose !!) Just the presence of some of your actual aquaintances and friends in it does not form a society. You cannot touch them, feel them. Anyone can pose as another person with a vastly different personality. There is no way to know that the friend request you got recently is from a real and alive person or from a computer program designed as a person. So, because it is not a society, but a virtual internetworking site, we have to use it accordingly. It is no place for expressing and debating political or other opinions. If you want to have a debate, get out in the open and do it in the real world.

There is another aspect of this virtual nature of social media. Because you are not in front of the person you are dealing with and you cannot feel, touch, or (sometimes) see him/her, it is very easy to attack personally. Some people find it very convenient to harass or insult other people online because they are hiding behind their virtual identities. And there is no norm or set of decent conduct in virtual social media. In real world, however, they might not do it because norms of real society will not allow them.

And then there are those pictures of other people. How to deal with them ? Well, they are just pictures. I mean, surely, some people are narcissistic.( They share their pictures just to get a billion likes.) But most of them are not. They just share because of no particular reason, just for the sake of sharing. A picture of a smiling girl can tell you that she is happy at that moment of taking the picture. But that does NOT mean that she is always happy. That “always happy” part is our own foolish assumption. And most of us share our happy moments with other people, isn’t it ? That is why most of the photos in the social media are of people sharing their happiness. Sometimes they are of smiling, other times they are of hard earned achievements. They definitely do not mean in any way that people who are sharing them do not go through the same vicissitudes of life. Again, that “always happy” part is our foolish construct.

So, thus, I found out that I’ve a lot to learn how to use social media. I’ve strayed from my original objective of using it primarily as a tool for keeping relationships alive. I also used it wrongly, assuming it as a real society, shared my opinios and got angry, and peeked in other peoples’ lives (because they share their pictures) and got sad !! What on earth was wrong with me ??!!…

So I stopped using them. Am I happy ? Not necessarily. Because it has nothing to do with happiness. It has everything yo do with my (mis)handling of technology. Technology and innovation are there to drive us forward. But we have to use them with discretion. Presumptive and compulsive use of them will drive us being angry and sad.

So, I’ll discover and learn how to use them first. Then if succeded, I’ll start using them again. Otherwise, it’s bye bye “social” media.

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