Vinisha Lalchand – Society’s Addiction to a Dangerous Drug
“Ah Vanity, definitely my favorite sin” – Al Pacino
There is a new type of drug society has been overdosing on and the it’s considered normal in the digital realm of Web 2.0. It manipulates our thoughts, encourages our actions and makes us hallucinate a different life. Well I won’t keep you waiting any longer, the drugs name is called INSTAGRAM and the side effect is NARCISSISM.
I understand the hype behind New-Influencers, algorithmic advertising, staying connected and even all the meme pages. But, are all of these factors justified by a positive end result? While everyone raves about the newfound benefits of online marketing and close-knit new world, I am here to reveal the ugly truth and narcissistic persona social media is manifesting within millennials.
Most images on Instagram are glamorized portrayals of reality but not reality in itself, this creates impractical perceptions of others hindering meaningful relationships. Applications such as Instagram allow for participatory citizenship where members of society actively engage with and consume media causing overexposure and unhealthy consumption.
A very well known Communications theorist, Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “The medium is the message”. This signifies that whichever platform one communicates through incorporates itself in the message it sends and way the meaning is interpreted. This is prominent with social media, consistent visually aesthetic images and the insecure influence it allows for.
Social media networks notoriously feed the human mind with anxiety, jealousy, insecurity, fake popularity and most importantly competition. Due to the oversharing of images, it induces a feeling similar to a ‘chemical reaction’ that a person needs to be perceived as ‘better’ or more ‘well off’ in society.
Online networks foster a fake concept of connectivity between two individuals. This creates a parasocial bond and a deceiving representation of community. In regards to ‘influencers’, their audiences feel personally attached to them due to the insights of their life shared on stories and in the captions they post. This is similar of how fans believe they know a celebrity because of everything they see in the mass media and not by having one on one conversations getting to actually know the individual. These bonds further anxiety among most audiences. User-Generated content culture demands for regular social media users to create engaging content all the time. Millennials (25 and above) are the biggest content drivers contributing over 70% of all UGC. This adds pressure to individuals as well as deepens the feeling of ‘not being good enough’ and hosting a comparative attitude. While others, obtain a drive from the drug that induces a competitive nature to ‘one-up’ another. It is true that Instagram provides innovative job opportunities and serves as an engaging interactive tool. Society has started to become so consumed by the new uses of social media and the meaning of true communication is slowly being, lost especially among those obsessed.
Back in 2012, Mark Zuckerberg believed that social media would lead to “the empowerment of people.” But, hasn’t it done the exact opposite? Now, we are questioning and over-analyzing every image we see on the internet. Selfie-angles matter, good lighting contributes to visually appealing. We are not supposed to see ourselves as human anymore, and we are taught to judge ourselves for every single flaw. On the contrary, this same idea could lead to a world full of social media addicted narcissists who feel self-absorbed turning a blind eye to the truth around them.
So what does one do when the line between real and imagined tends to merge into a giant blur?
The answer to this question is rather complicated. In this generation and era it is not feasible to ask everyone to detach themselves from online and focus offline. However one thing is quite clear; society is glued to technology and their mobile devices. They feel a need to share every aspect of their life in an extra, exaggerated or fake manner.
So, next time you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed and you see an image, I ask that you focus on the positive. Instead of analyzing the beautiful colors, background, exotic or glam life of that individual, or critiquing their body – I hope you realize they are just as human as you are yourself.
It’s time to toss the glitz, glamor and vanity aside and come together to abandon this addiction which only seems to be increasing day by day.
Vinisha Lalchand obtained a BCoMS Honors degree with a minor in Psychology from Carleton University in Ontario, Canada.
Until next time… Xoxo – Vinisha 💋
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