I’ve written a story on the strengths and flaws of the Canadian healthcare system for The Varsity this month. You can find it here.
Recently while updating my Facebook profile, which I do very rarely now because Facebook is a massive distraction, a number of “stories” popped up on my news feed. Many of these were of photographs, philosophically indulgent quotes and then…more photographs. Clicking on one of these links I soon found myself staring at a huge number of “likes”,an equally big number of inane comments by a variety of people and a few more creative responses like”Thank you :D” and “Love you too!!(saccharine smiley face)”
Now by no means do I object to the use (or voluntary overuse) of Facebook or any other social media, but I’ve begun wondering whether spending so much time in the virtual world is healthy. Admittedly social media has done (initial) wonders for my parents’ generation and others, with all the reconnecting, but in my generation’s case its usage seems to be downright rude and invasive. A Facebook “friend list” may be three thousand people strong but an actual friend list would be perhaps ten people strong. So effectively any poor, overworked news feed continues to give all of us information on the lives of irrelevant individuals who we have (probably) forgotten exist.
The other major feel-bad moment about social media is when real people would rather interact with the virtual “you”,than the real one sitting opposite them, for whatever reason. While talking to a friend or relative,for example,one often finds that they’d rather be talking to their (smart)phones or checking in on their virtual life . How do I know?
Because I most unfortunately succumbed to that very habit when I bought my first smartphone and while I was in the depths of virtual-world induced joy, I failed to notice exactly how unhappy this was making those people who actually wanted to know the “real” me.
Another thing to note (especially for students) about overuse of social media is that it is subtly dangerous.Very dangerous. Especially in the hands of exceptionally bored individuals. On a personal level it can make one very insecure and self-absorbed due to the continuous update of minute information. Online individuals can disguise themselves as different personalities, portray themselves very differently from their real persona and carry with themselves the ability to wreak total havoc. In fact this whole “Anonymously posting nasty comments about others” trend takes bullying and plain old nastiness to a whole different level. If you really hate someone say it to their faces (if you have the guts) or just avoid them in all the ways you think you can (if you don’t want to “court controversy”). Doing it through other people or forums is just plain cowardly and spiteful. A complete contrast to the ” Online Anonymous Nastiness” is the concept of “Anonymous Compliments” while making individuals feel good in that whole “you’ve got people rooting for you!” way, which is a great stand alone concept, begins to feel a little dry, pointless and cowardly after a point of time. If you want compliment a person, why not say it straight to their face? In fact communication of compliments directly will make the concerned person feel LOADS better than an anonymous compliment because now they know who is rooting for them and who to rely on “when the going gets tough”, which ultimately is a great thing for anyone to feel!