How many likes did my post get? How many of my friends shared it? Did people find me desirable in my new sleeveless dress? How many people viewed my profile? Is it time to upload a new selfie/velfie? Should I pick up an issue that will make me insanely popular? How many crops to click on in Farmville today? How many candies to crush?
If questions like these haunt you early in the morning and through the day, chances are that social media has started turning you into a village idiot.
We’re not saying this, scientists are. And that too in the reputed Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The journal says that while the instant access to information and interaction is making us feel smarter (because we get answers easily), in reality it is making us dumber by robbing our powers of concentration, contemplation and reflection.
Consider the following facts:
- The majority of social media users are teens. Teens usually learn and fumble their way into adulthood when they become more sure of themselves. Instead of learning something new, or engaging in physical activity or something productive, Indian teens gather on Facebook, share their photos and posts and spend a lot of time on unproductive activities that do nothing to help their intellect or physical well-being.
- Working adults mostly use social media during work hours. This distracts them from the work at hand and either makes them deliver low quality or delayed jobs. In either case, it’s a no-brainer that social media makes Indian workers unproductive and the nation poorer.
- Social media is live and kicking 24/7 and you have access to it all the time — on your PC, when you are mobile, in the cafe, while travelling, in your loo, while resting at home, etc. The effects are showing. Let’s face it, most urban Indians are addicted to social media. Such addiction cannibalizes free time and has the potential to disrupt sleep, kill confidence, build stress and inject an unpleasant attitude.
- Social media is not just about making friends, sharing and reading. It is about gaining appreciation. It has made narcissists out of many Indians, and many more are in the pipeline. The selfies, velfies and the regular photos are all put there to garner likes and shares and eventually earn some praise. These shenanigans can actually end up making us air-headed and shallow.
- It screws up our language skills. It makes us communicate, most of the time, from our devices instead of a physical 1-1.
- Our attention spans have gone flying out of the window. Facebook and Twitter have turned many of us into beings with the attention span of a Pokemon character.
- Many posts, especially the political ones, have turned us into intolerant, raging bulls. If we see something that goes against our opinion, we shower it with our verbal puke. Check any political post or Twitter account and you’ll know what I mean.
- Provocation and controversies work like a magnet on all social media networks. many online magazines have become sleeper hits ever since they started courting controversy and provocation. Think about what this can do to your personal growth over the long term — you’ll end up being a negative person, prone to condemning everything in sight or mind.
- Most of the information put out there on Facebook and Twitter is either fake, biased or motivated. The bad news is that people believe in such trash and form opinions based on untruths.
- It’s killing our reading habits. You know this and I don’t need to elaborate.
- Social media posts promote envy and greed. You want that dress that your best friend has, you want your boyfriend to be as caring as your other male friends, you wish you had this and you had that. Enough said.
If you’re addicted to social media, it will surely make you loosen your grip on your own self. This will happen, slowly and gradually. Social media deaddiction clinics have already sprung up in the west, and India may soon follow suit if we keep going the way we are.
It’s now time to answer the question in the title.
Yes, social media is making most of us unproductive but is not turning all of us into idiots. The smart guys are using it productively to increase their business, build their brand or reputation, or to get a job. Then there are folks who derive some fun and pleasure out of reading creative, funny and informative posts.
If you do not belong to these two categories and are addicted to social media, then hello Mr Village Idiot, it’s time you change for the better.
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