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Imagine sitting on your couch on a pleasant Autumn afternoon. It is not too cold nor uncomfortably hot, it is just perfect. You have the television on and you are watching re runs of Friends. You have a nice cup of coffee by your side and overall you are feeling pretty good about yourself and your surroundings. Suddenly, you think about going through social media for a while, just a light scroll on the portal of your choice (let’s assume it’s Instagram), humbly hand out a few likes here and there, answer a couple of messages and then you put down your phone and enjoy the rest of your afternoon.
And The Old Inferiority Complex Seeps in!
The first picture you see as soon as you open Instagram is of a person posing on a beach. This person possesses the so called perfect body the society idealizes, smooth skin with not even an iota of fault and they are doing all of this while you are in your comfortable sweatpants and a loose T shirt with your acne medication applied over your pimples.
You start feeling a little less happy but you are fine. Then you see a story which showed you how a certain someone partied all night long with their best friends painting the town red. This certain someone is your friend’s friend’s uncle’s second cousin’s neighbor’s child, so obviously you are extremely invested in their lives.
Now this starts to concern you because you and your group are too busy with studies, jobs, and other stuff in your personal life so much so that you have neither the time nor the energy to do any of this. But lo and behold, this is just the beginning.
You encounter many other posts which give you an insight into a person’s picture perfect life. This is when the shamelessly notorious devil, called insecurity, crawls towards the forefront of your mind, escaping the barriers of a dark room you locked it in when you read all those self-help books. That cheeky brat escaped and is now trying to mess with the equilibrium of your entire well-being.
It’s All a Charade!
Now looking at the above example, would you say that social media is a catalyst that accelerated and enabled the phenomenon of making someone feel uncomfortable in their own skin. Well, I do believe so. By looking at such posts, impressionable people or even people who have extreme confidence in themselves tend to falter and hit the brakes on their path to self-confidence.
These virtual pictures on social picture make people question their own realities. They fail to realize that the perfect body is attained with the help of tools like Photoshop, editing and adding certain filters to the picture. The person who partied all night long just lost their job, they are upset and lonely as they can’t tell their friends any of this as they are afraid of being made the butt of their cruel jokes.
When we go on social media, we don’t know what the actual scenario is with any of the people we follow or look up to. The married couple whose relationship you are envious of, have lost the spark in their marriage and have fallen out of love but they put up a façade in front of their followers so as to not lose their brand and image.
Can we blame these influencers and the other torch bearers of deceit? Only to a certain extent as I believe they too are a victim of social media. They are scared of being judged and ridiculed for revealing their flaws and the truth about themselves but one thing all of us who decide to put any piece of our lives on the internet need to be aware of is our responsibility towards thousands others who might get affected by our lies.
Celebrities who are just looking for a pay check when they get sponsored by diet supplements and other pills need to immediately stop and look at what they’re doing. They are advertising an unrealistic, untrue body image and lifestyle that cannot be achieved without a price. Their target audience are all the people who have been successfully converted into insecure beings who are looking for a way out of their so called mediocrity. A mediocrity that is normal and beautiful in its own way.
Let’s Usher in The ‘Change’
There is no denying the fact that social media has evolved over the years and has garnered its fair share of accolades and achievements with respect to the movements such as Me Too and body positivity where it has given people a chance and courage to come up and tell their story. It has also paved the way for dialogue about mental health issues and has proved itself extremely useful in spreading awareness about different aspects of the world.
But I still believe that there is scope for improvement and we as a society need to work together and make social media a safe haven for everyone so that they can speak their truth without fearing any rebuttal. From influencers to the common folk, everybody deserves to have a place where they can just relax, speak their truth and feel connected to one another.
The focus needs to shift from conversations like how can I be like them to accepting ourselves and loving ourselves. And while the mental well-being of a person comes from within, it doesn’t give a clean chit to all the people out there who resort to dishonest means and affect the lives of others. People who have been portraying a false image on social media need to know that it’s okay, they will be accepted if they reveal their flaws, and the fact that all of us are in the same boat.