6 Young Indians Share Their Experience With Social Media Anxiety - Homegrown

6 Young Indians Share Their Experience With Social Media Anxiety

It’s hard to deny that most of us practically live online these days. Even if that might not be completely true, we do interact with the larger world and society through the internet. From the news we get to the culture we consume, social media has become one of the most integral aspects of modern living.

While social media has given us the platform to voice our thoughts and emotions, and hence empower the narrative of mental health globally, for many, social media is also the primary cause of their mental health issues. From the constant urge to check your phone, to devaluing your self-worth while comparing yourselves with others, social media anxiety is real and it’s effects are widespread.

While we see the irony of you reading this article via social media, we felt the need to initiate the conversation around this problem in some capacity. Which is why we asked some of our readers about social media anxiety and how we can make things better moving forward. Check it out!

I. Atima Agrawal, 25

What does social media anxiety mean to you?

The restlessness caused by Instagram, majorly wherein the reel life of people seems to be the real life but that isn’t really true. It has created a culture of constant attention seeking, jealousy and miscommunication as people tend to take everything personally.

How do you think social media affects your mental health?

It gives me false assurance makes me anxious, jealous and confused.

What steps can we collectively take to tackle this problem?

We need to collectively understand and accept that people are not really ‘real’ in their posts. Everyone uses filters and editing and that’s fine! They don’t really look that good or are that happy or that successful all the time. We maybe need to be more real on our social media.

II. Swedha, 21

Swedha Parashar 6 young Indian men and women share stories of social media anxiety and mental health problems
Swedha Parashar

What does social media anxiety mean to you?

A lot of things - the fear of missing out it induces me with, the sense of disillusionment it fills me with, the fact that I’m bored both, with and without it, THE NUMBERS!

How do you think social media affects your mental health?

It makes me anxious, self-critical and lonely. It pushes me to compare my life to that of others. It makes me want things I wouldn’t otherwise want. I’m almost a little too informed now, to the point where it is bad for my mental health.

III. Miranda Chhehlawn, 23

Miranda Chhehlawn 6 young Indian men and women share stories of social media anxiety and mental health problems
Miranda Chhehlawn

What does social media anxiety mean to you?

The pressure to push, achieve and look according to society’s standards and it’s unrealistic expectations in life.

How do you think social media affects your mental health?

It affects me a lot, especially on Instagram and Facebook where at one point I thought I had to look like and act a certain way because of what I was exposed to. Society’s standard of lifestyle and beauty which led me to a point where I felt very insecure of my body, culture and my family. I developed an eating disorder which led me to having more social anxiety, stress and hating myself during the course of high school which reached its peak in college. Cause I was surrounded by people who were either insecure about themselves and body shamed me about my scars, the way I dress up and colour my hair. People betrayed me and used me for their own benefits and social media keeps on showing standards like Instagram models, diet pills and it shames people for not having the “perfect” look. Also, the pop culture we see, be it either Western Hollywood, Japanese anime, K-pop (and it’s overtly shiny and plastic beauty standards) and Bollywood to top it all off. The community I grew up in look down upon me and my family (a single divorced mother raising 3 kids on her own without anyone’s help or my dad’s support) which led me to having anxiety and depression and at some point, being suicidal. I was dealing with all that shit by myself where I can’t tell my family because they had gone through much more than me. I kept it to myself, I would smile and act like I had a bubbly, carefree personality but deep down no one knows my pain.

What steps can we collectively take to tackle this problem?

It kept going on for years until I did masters when I moved to a new city and met the most wonderful people from different spectrum of culture and society and thus experienced a lot of stuff. I learnt a lot during those 2 years of my life. There were the good and bad parts, but most importantly there were always great lessons whenever I look back at it. That kind of made me kept going and made me a lot stronger and more empathetic as a person. I learnt how to be unapologetic to people who tried to bring me down, differentiated between fake friends, and tackled my inner demons. Social media at this point had become so much better as compared to the passed 4-5 years, where there is more inclusivity among women and other cultures expressing themselves in a positive way and society’s toxic standards of beauty and lifestyle were slowly taken down one step at a time. We still have a very long way to go, but we need be stronger and fight these battles as we educate and aware the masses through social media.

IV. Nikhil, 24

Nikhil Pandey 6 young Indian men and women share stories of social media anxiety and mental health problems
Nikhil Pandey

What does social media anxiety mean to you?

The pressure or the constant thought of posting beautiful pictures as your peers is one of the things that defines social media anxiety for me.

What steps can we collectively take to tackle this problem?

The best way is to be conscious and considerate. Everyone should be conscious of life and their surroundings, not everyone has the same life. For e.g., even your parents and you have different lives despite of living under the same roof or being of the same blood line. That conscious consideration and acceptance of life, the way it is, will definitely decrease your anxiety.

V. Shubhangi, 23

Shubhangi Misra 6 young Indian men and women share stories of social media anxiety and mental health problems
Shubhangi Misra

What does social media anxiety mean to you?

The urge to look at my phone every 5 minutes, the urge to constantly keep uploading quality content, checking and re-checking likes, comments and followers, and becoming anxious while not getting the expected engagement. Off late, I have realised that social media anxiety is not only real but hugely affecting lives to an extent that it has become frustrating. As a person going through anxiety issues otherwise also, fretting about social media all the time is not healthy for me at all. And I am aware of it. But it happens with no control of mine, and it happens with a lot of us now. The problem is increased to the point that we cannot live without our phones for even an hour. So much of screen exposure results in a number of health issues too. Besides that, our mental health has gone haywire because of constantly looking at what other people are doing, and somewhere comparing their lives with our own. I cannot even count how many times I’ve opened Instagram and ended up feeling miserable about my life!

What steps can we collectively take to tackle this problem?

The most important step is to limit our screen viewing time and follow that strictly. Collectively, we can urge each other to spend more time with one another physically rather than online. Having real discussions on the dinner table rather than sinking our heads in our phones. Also, the time that we waste on our phones can be utilised by going outside and connecting with nature, even if it means going for a walk for 15 minutes. It would open our minds, making us more receptive to the outside world.

VI. Jeetendra Ajmera, 22

 Jeetendra Ajmera 6 young Indian men and women share stories of social media anxiety and mental health problems
Jeetendra Ajmera

What does social media anxiety mean to you?

So, a day before yesterday, I almost had an anxiety attack. I couldn’t sleep the entire night, had to constantly open my phone and had to browse my screen for satisfaction. I don’t know what happened, but it was just not stopping. I wasn’t able to control myself, was sweating, my throat had choked, couldn’t sleep at all. It was new, and scary. It made me more conscious, angry and frustrated the next day.

How do you think social media affects your mental health?

Social media brings me closer to people who aren’t really close to me. This does worse than good. It affects me sometimes when I see people doing things, living a perfect life; well I do know it’s not the same, but you know there are times when we just can’t ignore it. Mental health takes a toll. A constant need for validation, to be there, is always on the mind. Sometimes I just scroll down my phone without directly consuming content. This passive yet strong urge is fatal to mental health- essentially it just makes me more worried about things than required.

What steps can we collectively take to tackle this problem?

Maybe sharing is first. Sharing with detail helps I believe.

Featured illustration by Surbhi Arya for Homegrown.

If you enjoyed this article, we suggest you read:

The Loneliness Epidemic – 6 Brave Indians Share Their Struggle With Loneliness

A Crowdsourced List Of Non-Judgemental Mental Health Professionals In India

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