Editor's Choice
The ‘like’ generation

The ‘like’ generation

Are we raising a generation who live in a false illusion that a big number of likes and followers is a symbol for self-esteem and a benchmark for achievement?

“There are only two industries that call their customers “users- illegal drugs and software.”
-Edward Tufte (American Statistician)

Have you ever felt a rush when you see that your latest post has more likes than the previous one? Or when you hear your phone buzzing after an excruciatingly long period of silence? This is because of a neurotransmitter known as Dopamine- a chemical that causes satisfaction and joy. Social media is an external, artificial means of releasing this chemical. There’s one other means of artificially inducing a dopamine high. Drugs. Starting to see the countless similarities between drugs and social media?

But what’s wrong with a drugless means of inducing a dopamine rush? This high is very addictive, because who wouldn’t want to feel happy? Social media, however, creates a link between validation, and superficiality with acceptance. Soon we start craving this acceptance, in the form of societal approval. But when we don’t receive this sanction of being socially accepted, the body detects a drop in the levels of dopamine and another chemical called serotonin, leading to a state of self-negligence and unhappiness – that we call depression. 

This is where it starts getting dangerous. Social media starts affecting the way we think, not only about ourselves but about everything around us, gradually and slowly. Never before in the history of mankind have we witnessed a collective fascination for the inane, most ridiculously shallow and inconsequential things. A film star’s routine, or a craze for Dalgona coffee grips the attention of humanity. Have we forgotten the presence of a raging pandemic, an uncertain future threatening our existence? Social media is not assuaging our wounds. It is shielding us from reality. We are a generation living in denial. The social media fluff is hiding a quagmire of anxiety disorders, self – hatred and loneliness in the midst of friends and family. The social fabric is being torn to shreds with all kinds of relationships breaking down.

The idea that the click of a button is all it takes to have the entire world in our palms is what is wrong with our technology driven generation. We step out of the house to “Instagram” it to our countless followers, and not to enjoy ourselves. We talk to friends to “snap” the fact that we’re not sitting alone at home- as opposed to the person that opens the snap. Our impression of everything around us, including ourselves is depended on the tiny number on the bottom left of our screens- the like-count. The idiosyncrasies of social-media validation change our perception of success. The person with a higher follower count suddenly seems more accepted and popular than someone with better brains, and a more likable personality. Gone are the days when perseverance and fortitude were rewarded; today, achievement is correlated with superficiality and ostentation.

The popular saying goes, ‘You are determined by the books you read and the friends you keep.’ The twenty-first century believes otherwise. We are determined by the clicks of buttons and charlatans. The simple solution to this, is just that- simplicity. Our priorities must change, evolve towards providing ourselves with a better world to live in. A world far, far away from the frivolity and insignificance that we indulge in today. A world, as Martin Luther King Jr famously articulated, “where we are judged by the content of our character”.

-Siya Girisaballa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *