Alone in a crowd

Shweta Saxena
Sunday, 7 April 2019

Even with so many friends and followers online, do you still feel like there’s no one to talk to? Here’s how you can tackle social media loneliness

It’s true that internet has made the world a smaller place. You don’t really need reunions to catch up with your friends who might be scattered all around the world — social media allows you to do that. Find a friend, add them to your social media, and you can always be in touch. But even with hundreds of so called friends on digital platforms, do you ever feel like there’s no one to really talk to? Are you alone in a crowd? Well, you’re not the only one who feels like that. Social media loneliness is a thing, and it’s affecting millions across the world. 

Loneliness and social media
Sure it is an irony that social media did bring people across the globe closer, but it has also created a silent rift between those physically present around us. Most of us experience loneliness due to the social media at some point in time. But we may or may not realise it due to our demanding schedules or also the lack of awareness of this issue.
Loneliness, in simple words, is the emotional response to the isolation we experience. This response is unpleasant and at times confuses us, taking us away from understanding it well.

How and why does this happen?
The virtual world starts taking over your real world: Our regular interaction with actual people around us starts declining which makes us feel more comfortable and connected with the virtual friends on social media.

Inability to appreciate the relationships around us: We start getting irritable when the people around us attempt to connect or interact with us. Even a few moments of disconnection from the internet due to interruption by family members or friends is not tolerated. We feel like these people are interfering in our personal spaces.

Inability to focus on real-life positive experiences: We get so engrossed in social media that we  fail to see the already existing friendly vibes around us. Happiness of having maximum ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ becomes more precious for us than a genuine verbal compliment from a workmate or a family member.

Social media performance pressure: Daily posts, happy posts, glamorous selfies, hot destination holidays, daily likes and comments, and so on start making the use of social media more of an act of obsession rather than entertainment.

Over-usage becomes routine: Constantly checking Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter and so on starts becoming a part of our routine and sucks us into a vicious circle. Every time you open Facebook you expect to see some new likes and comments, and if you don’t find any notifications, you start feeling unaccepted or sort of a failure in performance.

Social media becomes the major reason of our unhappiness: Not getting the expected number of likes, comments or retweets and shares on your posts, feeling not as popular as your other friends on social media and so on, may lead to severe health issues like depression and even suicidal tendencies in worse cases.  

Comparison and competition: Life as we know it is already full of rat races and unhealthy competitions, which is why we tend to continue the same pattern in our social media lives too. Whether we have met someone in person or not, their daily posts which may project their happiness and success start bothering us as we aren’t doing so well in our real lives. This usually happens when these virtual competitors are from the same field, age or city. Jealousy stars starts fueling the negative emotions within us and we start comparing our real life to others’ virtual life only to make us even more deeply unhappy.

Friction between our real and virtual life: We need to understand and accept that our real and virtual life can never be the same all the time. Of course it is interconnected and influenced by each other. But  in reality both can hardly be going smoothly on two parallel tracks. When we start noticing the difference between the life we pretend to have on social media, and the life that we actually live, we start feeling depressed, lonely, confused and probably annoyed as well. It becomes difficult us to handle so many negative emotions all alone and this is where our mental health starts suffering. 

From the above points, if you are experiencing five or more symptoms,  you must know that you need help yourself and overcome this easily-manageable challenge in life to get back on the right track. Stay tuned with us to understand and know the practical ways of coping from the loneliness due to the Social Media. Remember that human beings are social animals and not social media animals.
(Shweta Saxena is clinical psychologist and the founder of Woman TV)

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