After a tough and exhausting day, you collapse onto your sofa and decide to open social media to catch up with the world.
The moment you tap on the familiar icon, you find everyone happy, successful, and living exciting lives. Some of your friends are enjoying lavish parties, some are traveling the Maldives, and some are boasting six-figure incomes.
Although you are happy for them, you fall into the comparison trap. You curse your fate and think something is really wrong with you. Because you are the only person with a boring life. And now you feel insecure and inadequate.
No wonder multiple research has found that heavy use of social media increases the risk of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and self-harm.
But how everyone on social media can have perfect lives? Can you really believe everything you see on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all those social platforms? Or are you being fooled?
4 Reasons why Social Media is Fake
1. Selective Representation
Meet Sam. He shares only the best things happening to him on social media and keeps the tough times to himself.
Even if he is stressed all day, he will upload a big-smiling selfie against a cool background.
He struggles financially? No worries, he will post a picture posing on a beach he visited months ago.
Had a fight with his father? Nah, you won’t find that in his feed. Instead, he will share a gym selfie showing his rock-muscular body.
Is Sam always happy? Well, you already know.
He has created this fake life on social media just to impress others. He really craves that pat on the back and wants to look awesome to everyone.
Sam is us. We all are Sam.
2. Misleading News
Meet Adi. He uses social media primarily to stay updated on news and current events worldwide.
Whenever he comes across interesting news, he shares it on his status without verifying its authenticity.
Adi comes across fabricated stories, fake images, or doctored videos that evoke strong emotional responses, such as outrage, fear, or excitement.
And he is more likely to share such content to express his feelings, unknowingly supporting rumors and lies.
While Adi genuinely believes he’s making a positive impact by spreading awareness, little does he know about his contribution to spreading false information and manipulating people.
Adi is us. We all are Adi.
3. Fake Accounts
Meet Uma. She is an aspiring social media influencer who creates dance videos.
She’s passionate about what she does, but there’s a catch – she has a small number of followers, and her content isn’t getting the desired engagement, which she finds disappointing.
So she has bought thousands of fake followers who boost the likes, comments, and views on her posts, creating the illusion of popularity.
Now Uma gets multiple paid promotion opportunities when sponsors see the impressive engagement on her posts.
Uma also enjoys the perks of fame as she shines like a star among her friends.
Uma is us. We all are Uma.
4. Misleading Filters and Editing
Meet Riya. She is all about that perfect pic.
The best outfit, flawless makeup, and striking poses are her go-to formula for an Instagram-worthy shot.
She would have at least 15 pics clicked by his photographer friend with an iPhone.
Of these, she would choose the best one. It’s a difficult task, but she has mastered this art after months of practice.
The selected one or two photos would then undergo intense editing, with face-altering tweaks and filters, all to transform her into the most captivating girl in the universe.
Riya looks far more attractive than she really is.
And this fake beauty gives her immense joy because it brings her more likes, shares, and followers on her profile.
Riya is us. We all are Riya.
How to Use this Fake Social Media Smartly?
Now I am not saying everybody is fake. It’s just most of us are. But this doesn’t mean you should quit social media altogether.
Because let’s admit these platforms are still amazing places to connect with friends and network with like-minded people. You can raise awareness for important messages, learn new skills, and create content to express your creativity.
So you should use it by all means, but also take care of its downsides. We saw how social media is fake and can impact your mental health.
So here are some ways you can navigate it responsibly and protect your well-being. I have been following these approaches for a long time, and they have rewarded me with immense peace and a sense of wellness.
1. Limit Your Social Time: Spending hours scrolling Instagram is easy. So you must set boundaries for your time on these platforms.
The Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology recommends using social media for 30 minutes daily. You can distribute this time between the different apps you use to be active and maintain engagement on them.
One quick tip: never use social media before bedtime if you want to have a sound sleep.
2. Be Careful whom You Follow: The content you consume shapes your daily emotions and feelings. So unfollow accounts that spread negativity or trigger negative feelings of hatred, anger, and jealousy. Instead, opt for accounts that inspire, educate, and bring you joy.
3. Avoid Comparisons: Never believe everything you see on social media. Stop comparing your imperfect, beautiful life with the fake perfect lives.
Remember, you aren’t alone because life isn’t easy for anyone. Everybody is fighting their own battles.
4. Silence that Notification: Social media pings can be utterly disturbing and distracting. You can’t focus on your work when your phone buzzes with every likes, comments, message, and snaps.
Hence, disable all those not-so-important notifications and welcome peace.
Also, take regular breaks from social media to recharge yourself. Engage in activities that bring you joy- travel, pursue a hobby, or spend time with a friend.
5. Drop the Search for Validation: Your self-worth shouldn’t be tied to the likes and follows.
Trust me, it’s a lesson I find challenging to practice too. But it’s very crucial if you want to use social media without harming your mental health.
Real validation comes from within or from people close to our hearts.