ONLINE ME – OFFLINE ME

How do you prove you exist? Passport, Aadhar card, maybe presenting yourself in flesh and blood! Nope, the current kosher way is to have an ‘Online’ presence. You exist only if you are visible on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and so on.
Upto Generation X, people grew up learning that a good personality is what makes a man or woman stand out. A good personality being defined as confident, good at communication, well-mannered and the works. Now it is all about looking right, making statements that attract attention and baring your life on social media.
From the moment we wake up, with the tabloid in our hands, to the moment we sleep after checking the likes on our new Facebook status, we are surrounded by social media which has not failed to make us realize its ubiquity in our lives. Each day we wake up to see how perfect the world online looks- perfect houses, perfect jobs, perfect bodies and perfect everything. The next step is to immediately compare ourselves to what is being thrown at us. The unrest that it causes in our mind is sometimes unspeakable. The question that persists is- are these online identities of people even half as real as the ones behind the screen?
Hyper-connectivity is the phenomenon of having near-continuous access to the Internet. We are all connected to each other on various social media platforms, across various countries. This has sure been an impetus in helping people connect and communicate, but we have now crossed that stage where we need social media only for communication. It is more about showing-off who’s having a more expensive vacation, or leading a more luxurious life. People with different goals have become a part of the same rat-race, a never ending one.
What suffers most is one’s identity. The ones who are trying to put up a show, as well as the audience perceiving it. We have forgotten who we actually are, where we come from, and where we want to go. We only focus on becoming like others, or becoming what others like! A variety of issues stem from this. People are wrapped up in insecurities, have no self-confidence and are constantly judgmental of others. Body image and social status issues have sky-rocketed in the last few years. The constant bombarding of photoshopped pictures is fuelling envy, insecurity and unhealthy competition in an entire generation. The ones putting up a show eventually fail to catch up with their social image, and lose their identities, while the consumers of such people forget their own identity trying to become like the fake one displayed in front of them.
This has led to serious mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. These ill-effects of social media on our society make me question whether it really is a boon for us. The debate over this is never ending. A person’s identity is not innate. It is formed from the social interactions one has in his lifetime. These include how we think people perceive us. We constantly try to project a favourable image of ourselves by dressing up well, talking politely, etc. Social media has given us the power to project this image, fake or real, in an exaggerated manner to even people who don’t know us personally.
Here’s the thing- according to what our screens show us, there’s always going to be someone smarter, better looking, richer, and so on. What’s important is that we don’t lose track of our own identity. Build it the way you want, but don’t lose the authenticity. Don’t be the part of a race whose prize won’t be valuable to you. Your identity is your power, be unique, be yourself!

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