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“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who overcomes his enemies.” - Aristotle

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It’s quite common nowadays to find people who can’t imagine being without their phone or tablet for any length of time. Many people’s lives now revolve around the constant use of such devices. For some it has developed into an addiction and they find themselves inescapably drawn into the fabricated world of social media. It’s not difficult to go on a bus, train or walk down a street without witnessing people glued to their mobile phones. But whether it’s a need for constant communication, an antidote to real life, or simple naivety – some people become wholly immersed in this bubble world of social media.

Apart from the snippets of relevant information, the vast content of social media is filled with peoples need to present inflated profiles of themselves or advance ideas or opinions designed to draw the most likes. People’s addiction often ranges from a celebrity type need to draw attention to themselves, to a fear of being the only one to miss out on the frenzy to know what others may be doing. In the process they surrender a significant proportion of their attention each day to this synthetic world, which is not only filled with petty jealousies but also exacerbates many people’s mental anxieties.

The detached nature of social media communication presents the opportunity for people to present an alter ego, a fictionalised ideal of themselves in which many strive to out-do each other; often trying to portray their lives as fulfilled or as happy as possible. The drug for these people is the positive affirmation they receive from others acknowledgement. These people often have an inflated fear of being seen in a negative light, or experiencing their bubble world collapse as reality seeps in. Quite an unhealthy predisposition if you happen to be caught up within it.

For those looking in, the experience can be just as disconcerting. Many are simply unable to dissect fact from fiction, believing each bit of tripe which appears. It’s effects are often a constant feeling of inadequacy which some try to combat by creating layer upon layer of their own fiction.

Having explained some of the ways the overuse social media can impact negatively on people, it must be highlighted that some people derive numerous benefits from social media as a communication tool. However, in a great many cases the mental detachment which accompanies its overuse, inhibits people’s ability to experience the richness of real life. When everything someone does is instantly shared with others, it loses its authenticity. People can sometimes find they aren’t living their own life anymore, as it becomes eclipsed by a need to maintain an idealised caricature of themselves. The mental anxieties which emerge from social media’s constant use, especially amongst the young, cannot be ignored. In some ways it’s the ticking time bomb of our generation.

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