We're living in an age where we are heavily dependent on, or maybe even addicted to, social media. From waking up to a cup of coffee and the trusty ol' newspaper, we've traversed the path to squinting with half-shut eyes at our phones and scrolling through our news-feeds, possibly while still in bed! While it's good that everybody is more connected and updated with their social circle's whereabouts, how many of us actually make the effort to catch up with those very people whose Instagram picture we just double-tapped?
It's all a bit twisted. With more and more people hooked onto social media platforms — like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat — not only are we losing out on living and enjoying life in the moment, since we're so busy documenting everything (and we mean everything!), we are also consumed with the fear of missing out (the word is #FOMO!) and can't help but scroll endlessly. Believe it or not, most of the time it is out of habit. And that's not even the worst part.
What we see on social media may affect us and our mood more than we would like to believe. Especially, when it comes to celebrities — we track everything they do and find ourselves invested in their personal lives and relationships. So, when a celebrity gets married, or even starts dating someone, we feel like a friend is getting married — a complete mixed bag of emotions. But have we ever paused to think, why? What gets us so invested and why do we feel happy and disgusted at the same time, when we see a celebrity couple lock hands on their Insta post?
We asked Nidhi Jain, founder of The Ochre Tree and a certified Pranic Healer, to help understand this on a deeper level.
"Most people live in a world of fantasy and glamour, celebrities are the rock stars in it. When we see a couple’s picture on social media, there is an instant comparison to what’s present in your life. Even TV shows and movie romances bring us down. It’s the Jones effect. 'Oh I don’t have this xyz thing in my relationship', or, 'Look how lovingly he’s looking into her eyes', 'She’s so prim and proper', 'what a loving and perfect wife or girlfriend', et al," explains Nidhi.
Just like the age-old saying, 'The grass is greener on the other side', everybody is pining for what they see, and feel devoid of something very crucial when they look at a couple that's sooo in love. Which in turn triggers a feeling of insecurity. "We start feeling negatively about our own lives and low self-esteem sets in. Day dreaming of being in a romantic relationship with partners who don't match our expectations, could even pave the way to feeling depressed," she says.
Does that mean that social media is all toxic and there's no way to escape it? Of course not. It hasn't reached that stage where we have to quit it to maintain our sanity, instead, we just need to be smart about it. Nidhi suggests being realistic about what is portrayed, and not ignore the element of drama added to spice it up. When we continuously focus on the good present in our lives, the negative has little space to seep in.
Secondly, she talks about how energy (which forms the basis of Pranic Healing) comes into play and can be of significant help in this scenario. "After reading social media or news that affects you it helps if you know how to cut the energetic cords that go out from your energy body to the news. Also, meditating regularly makes your aura strong, which in turn prevents these bits of news from affecting you."
Time and again we've heard about the power of positive reinforcement and affirmations, but we hardly make a conscious effort to actually practise it. Just like any form of negativity, social media's adverse consequences like feelings of depression and anxiety need to be met with a positive self-image. For instance, knowing and reminding ourselves of our own good qualities, and that of our partner, at such a time helps keeping us in balance.
"We have seen enough celebrities take drugs, commit suicide, or even walk out of seemingly perfect relationships, so there is much more than meets the eye. Be realistic, discern, and use your mind to think through when presented with any idea or image. Lord Buddha says 'Don’t believe anything just because someone said so',"Jain concludes.
Sure, we can't completely escape every couple in love around us, but we can make sure we're comfortable around it, without it depressing us. A little mindfulness, an affirmation, and a gentle reminder about the things that you should be grateful for in life, will go a long way.
With inputs by Nidhi Jain, Founder of The Ochre Tree