Technology has grown at a hyper-speed and the accessibility to it has us all hooked. People of all ages (even our grandmas!) are familiar with the concept of a video call. Since the onset of the pandemic, we are using technology more than ever, many of us start our day by working on our laptops, setting up meetings, and then we continue to mindlessly scroll through Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp, to take a breather from the madness of the work. Our screen time has increased, but what is the harm, you ask? The association of addictive use of social media and video gaming is linked to many comorbid psychiatric illnesses. (Andreassen et al,2016).
It has also been linked to sleep disturbances and reduced sleep among the youth who have indulged in excessive use of technology (Forehand et al, 2016). Switching off is not easy. Many of us do not know how to behave online. People openly criticize your work online, and you see your friends on exotic locations or your colleagues making a complicated meal perfectly. All of this is enough to make a lot of us feel less. How are our counterparts making such leaps of progress? Is my photo good enough? Is it worth a 100 likes at least? Our parameters for self-assessment have certainly changed.
You can develop a positive relationship with the online world. Let us explore some common themes.
Start your day offline: Start your day by meditating, journaling or simply be. There is no need to start your day by reading your office emails. You can end your day on a similar note, by talking to your parents or your partner or a friend, or by having a hot beverage. Your body and mind will prepare you for a quality good night’s sleep.
Avoid fighting with the trolls: Trolls are the negative people on social media who write hurtful comments on your social media intending to hurt your morale by criticizing your work, appearance, etc. Do not engage with them. If it costs you your peace, block them. In extreme situations, alert the cybersecurity. That being said, don’t be a troll yourself. If something does not fit your ideals of the world, it is best to not say anything. Respect and compassion are basic human values and should be exercised both online and offline.
Online world = not the real world: People will present the best bits of their lives to you, edited, filtered, with the best quotes found online. By this time, they know which post will get the maximum views and likes. Everyone has challenges behind the scenes and bad hair days, just like you. A comparison will only block your way to happiness and peace of mind.
Limit your time on Social Media: Make sure you know how long you are going to be online before you go in there. You might end up frustrated at the loss of your precious time due to excessive scrolling. Instagram even has an option to limit your screen time, which can lead to reduced usage of the app. You can even detox yourself, by taking time off from social media, by simply deleting your apps for a day or two. You can decide when to do so. It can be for a weekend or a whole month. Your mental health is your priority.
Your likes and followers do not mean much: Unless you are a full-time influencer and your social media gets you your food on the table, your likes and followers do not mean much. At the end of the day, we are all human beings with flaws and perfections, which also means that you should not feel obliged to post. Your likes are not a reflection of who you are as a person. You decide what goes up on your blog and what does not. You decide who is worthy of a comment or a follow back.
While the pandemic has made it hard to go out and live a real life where we could go out for gatherings, functions, dates, reunions and meetups, there is still some scope to live the real-life where you could read or write a book, cook your favourite food, exercise, talk to your friends and most importantly, relax and rewind. Make sure you live the life that you want to, so you do not have to depend on likes on social media to get that feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment.
Andreassen, C. S., Billieux, J., Griffiths, M. D., Kuss, D. J., Demetrovics, Z., Mazzoni, E., Pallesen, S. (2016). The relationship between addictive use of social media and video games and symptoms of psychiatric disorders: A large-scale cross-sectional study. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 30, 252–262.
2. Parent J, Sanders W, Forehand R. Youth screen time and behavioral health problems: The role of sleep duration and disturbances. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2016;37:277–84.
Neha holds a degree in Organizational Psychology from Leeds University, UK. She also has completed her Master’s in Clinical Psychology from the Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune in 2015 and has worked as a school counselor, a research assistant and an HR professional. Her research dissertation is on the topic ‘Generations at work place’. She is a Graduate member of the British Psychological Society (BPS), member of Division of Occupational Psychology (DOP) and is a qualified Occupational Test User (OTU) – Ability and Personality. Her research interest areas include emotional intelligence, well-being, bullying, generations at workplace (generations X and Y), work values and conscientiousness with respect to job satisfaction.