The social disconnect

Aristotle the legendary Greek philosopher said, ‘Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human.’ With the need for constant social belonging and the ease of social media enabling this connect, people are continuously attuned to their digital extensions. As a generation, we have witnessed social media become an ingrained component of our lives ? a phenomenon that continues to evolve to this day. While social media connectivity has helped open new doors to the world around us, there are questions on the kind of impact it continues to have on us as we persistently share our lives across various social outlets. Although our digital identity may be fragmented, it seems clear that our various online personas are simply digital breadcrumbs of our same core self. Our digital personalities are subject to acceptance and critique from its respective intended audience. We are therefore seeking intermittent reinforcement or validation in the form of likes or any other means of external assurance to confirm the health and effort we put into our digital extensions.

As we expose ourselves to numerous interpretations of what social media considers ‘appropriate’, we edit out parts of us that we deem unworthy and present a filtered version of ourselves to fit the ‘perfect’ mold of what’s being embraced by different media platforms. Consciously or unconsciously we have become a part of this vicious trap that makes us switch across our non-conforming personas, juggling to present who we are from one social network to another. The concern that it raises is that among all the alternative online personalities that we can transform ourselves into, we are failing to acknowledge and conform to our real persona or identity. No matter how we perceive and use social media, one thing is certain ‘ it’s here to stay! Research has linked social media usage to higher levels of loneliness, depression and decreased social skills. With degeneration of cognitive capabilities from its full potential, comes the need for mindfulness to overcome the sensory overload from being omnipresent across platforms. Mindfulness enables us to increase our ability to regulate emotions, decrease stress and depression. Mindfulness can help center you and enable an imperturbable state to overcome the social media disconnect.

Following are some ways in which you can disconnect with social media to connect with life again: Setting a time limit on social media usage while being connected on social media may feel like a must in this technology driven world, it is important to set a limit on the total time being spent on it each day to ensure productive use of time. Eliminating the use of a gadget one hour before sleeping and the first hour after waking up is a good place to start with regulating the time spent on social media. Taking up a hobby According to a study by the global web index, over 43% web users turn to social media when they are bored or have time to fill. Most social media users are habituated to scanning their social media apps as a means to fill the void from boredom. A fun and productive way to break this habit is taking up a hobby. Taking up a hobby will enable a shift from mindless scrolling to mindfully using your time with something you like doing, while bonding with like minded people. Listening to music Listening to music can be an effective and enjoyable way to boost productivity. Listening to music in a group setting can make people feel more connected with each other, while also elevating their state of mind and bringing them together at the same level. Music helps you make stronger connections with people at both macro and micro levels.

Traveling As humans, we each have our unique character traits and stories that set us apart from one another. Traveling opens you up to people from different environments and backgrounds who bring with them different viewpoints and beliefs. When exposed to such human diversity, you realize the magnanimity of the world around you and become mindful of the role you play in your own social hemisphere. Traveling enables you to go with the flow and teaches you the value of living in the moment therefore making you connect with yourself and your surroundings better. Opening up to a wider space of awareness and connection through mindfulness helps defy the claustrophobia that comes in from extensive social media usage. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and be connected with those around you and what you are doing. As we become more present with ourselves and towards the people around us, it can help us make better decisions, manage our emotions and be fully engaged with everyday life.

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