Publish or perish. That is the mantra that runs around academic circles. Whilst
this type of pressure might be justified in the academic world of research, does it
really have to be stressful in social media: a creative outlet at best, a temporary,
superficial realm at worst?

RELATIONSHIP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA

Where is this idea or thought coming from? Recently,
many have lamented the state that certain social media
platforms are in. With the advent of sponsored posts,
one’s offerings are often relegated and pushed further
away so that they do not appear in one’s feed. This
brings on a vicious circle of having to post for the sake of
posting, rather than for the sake of self-expression. This
should not limit or restrict one’s posting, of course, but
what one posts has now led or somehow started to affect
the likes and following even more than before. Whilst for
many having a handful of loyal followers is enough, for
those seeking to make this part of their social media ‘job’,
it can become rather tedious and tricky if the number of
followers or likes decrease. Algorithms have also been
changed in the way the posts are viewed, giving more
space to the sponsored (or paid) posts.RELATIONSHIP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA

Who suffers for it mainly? Scores of individuals trying to earn a living off social media have felt undue strain and pressure. Compelled to create a sort of image of themselves, they put out material on online platforms but sometimes end up being like many others who adopt certain designs and colours schemes for their ‘grid’. This
can lead to a potential loss of self, because in trying to
create good content, these individuals lose sight of who
they are. So the question is, whether this is worth doing
or not. More questions, or reflections, follow: Is it in the
name of likes and viewers, or in the name of it being an
‘art’? Is it really an art, or just a shallow exercise that
will leave no impact whatsoever? Is it something to be
shared and enjoyed (like art), or a celebration of the
individual masking narcissistic tendencies?

Speaking of the individual within a community,
whereas such social platforms enable one to celebrate
individualism and a sense of self, we are fast becoming
far more isolated in our connectivity. The internet has
provided us with a means to follow and shadow one
another, to know what others are doing, to be together
albeit virtually, yet in reality we are more alone and
lonely than we have ever been.

This thought leads to the next point – who shouldRELATIONSHIP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
care about such social media platforms in the first
place? Unless such platforms are an intrinsic part of one’s job, it is advised to proceed with caution. A lot of time is being wasted looking at what others are doing, which of course saps away whatever time remains in the day to actually do something meaningful. This forges an unhealthy relationship with social media, because it is not only time-consuming but also highly addictive. When you think about it, you are actually living
vicariously through other people, such as when they go abroad, eat out at a fancy restaurant, or simply go through the daily motions. Where are you and what are you doing? In bed or sitting down in some dark room, merely consuming and watching, not really going out there and living your life fully?

Now, take a test which involves the following: compare
when you are online and offline, when you are on social
media and off it. Do you feel miserable and apathetic
after scrolling for 10 minutes? After seeing image upon
image of people leading a seemingly beautiful life, do
you feel yours is worse in comparison? If the answer is
yes, then social media is most likely causing distress,
uneasiness, and possibly states of angst and depression
(research has backed up this claim). The solution is
simple, free, and achievable: go offline, and take a digital
detox. Go for a walk by the sea, read a book, meet a
friend in person for a coffee, spend time with family, join
a gym. Perhaps even work and save to take the trip that
you have been wishing all along for, because of what you
have seen on social media (ironically enough). So at the
end of the day, think about it: social media is not the be-all
and end-all in life, so let us resist making it so.

STEPHANIE XERRI AGIUS

© 2018 – VIDA Magazine