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  • Yajur Lath

Languishing and Flourishing in the age of social media networking

Everyone must be feeling or must have felt the “blah feeling” at least once during this whole pandemic.

As explained properly in the New York Times article, this blah feeling is something that has become very common these days. This directionless feeling is primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since this is not the first pandemic the human race is experiencing, is it safe to ask, that the people who experienced the previous pandemics of 1820s and 1920s, did they have this feeling too?

While some people would say yes and some would say no, I do not think this statement cannot be determined one hundred percent. It is so because the people of the 1820s and 1920s did not have this coined term with them and more importantly, they are not there with us right now to describe their feelings.

I believe that certain modern-day activities of humans have resulted in this feeling. One of such activities which comes to mind is that of using social media platforms. We have become so advanced and so addicted to it, that it would be undermining the social media platforms if it would be called a mere activity not an age of itself.

The Age of Social Media

Humans are more online than ever and that trend is here to stay. Right from attending schools and colleges, to attending meetings and even celebrating birthdays, this year and the past year, we have witnessed everything being done online. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the usage of social media has also grown and will continue to grow tremendously.

As per reports, more than half of the world now uses social media. The usage of social media has spread in every direction. Companies like Baker McKenzie make use of TikTok as a part of their hiring process, individuals gang up on Reddit and Twitter to increase GameStock’s price by a whopping 1700%, health professionals use social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to spread awareness about the pandemic and many such instances. This age has also seen a rise in the influencer economy and its importance as a tool of marketing for many companies.

To be clear, this age of social media existed before the pandemic, and this pandemic has just fuelled the growth of social media networking. The craze of this age is so much so that people earlier used to visit places and document memories through photographs but now people visit places to click some particular photographs and then document the whole trip through those photos.

‘If you didn’t gram it, maybe you never went there'.

However, since and during the pandemic, there has been a huge rise in different types of accounts and even the social media content has changed. This change had resulted in two of the many dominant feelings which were present in the pandemic; languishing and flourishing.

Languishing Through Social Media

Imagine a scenario where there was no pandemic. Life would have been normal, right? Students would have desperately wanted vacations, employees would have wanted the weekends and the like. Life on social media would have been quite the regular too. It still would have created that FOMO feeling but hey, one could make up for that by doing something else that Saturday night.

Social media platforms like Instagram are usually used to share happy moments of one’s life. The likelihood of someone taking out their phones to create a story or a reel when they are not having a good experience is very less likely as compared to putting up a story of a basic but happy thing such as going to the cinemas and watching a movie.

Unfortunately, then came the turnaround. Lockdown was declared, and people all over the world were asked to be inside their homes. In some countries, there was a complete lockdown and in some, a partial one. The lives of the people changed completely except for one constant thing, social media.

The engagement on social media was still normal. Infact, the engagement rate even increased and it started getting prominent. Influencers and creators were creating content. There were ample amounts of good vibe videos being posted all over social media despite the situation out there. There was not a problem with this initially, because people very strongly held on to the hope of this pandemic ending very soon. The problem arose when that hope slowly and slowly started to fade away. There was the sad news of deaths all over, people were stuck inside the homes, frustration was building up and eventually work from home did not seem like a boon anymore. Despite all of this, social media continued to paint the pre-pandemic picture. There were good vibe videos, there were throwbacks, and in fact there were even people who were having the time of their lives. All of this resulted in triggering various emotions of numerous people. People with strong support and excellent coping mechanisms eventually controlled their emotions and got out of it. However, the ones who did not, were pushed further into bad trips which eventually resulted in the development of this blah feeling.

The feeling where you experience being stuck and are not able to do anything to move forward despite knowing the way. The social media life made them see what they wanted to, but not something which they needed. The reality. All of this, combined with all the frustration, the pain, the problems each one of us were going through, contributed to the feeling.

Flourishing Through Social Media

While social media is getting the brunt of the pandemic up till now, I would not say that it resulted only in the development of that blah feeling. I, from a personal experience, am saying that social media also helped people flourish during the lockdown and continues to do so. An instance of the same would be that people throughout the world started discovering themselves, started exploring, developed new hobbies, finally did the task which they always wanted to but could not find the time for it and even honed their various existing skills. Not only this, but they also published and posted all of this on social media platforms like Instagram. The whole activity of publishing on a social media platform makes it even more exciting, better and makes one have the feeling of excelling in it or at least doing better every day in that particular task.

During the lockdown, it helped people break out of the chain of the monotony, frustration, and pain which they all were dealing with. Simple activities like that of making Dalgona coffee were trending. With the introduction of reels on Instagram, the trend of certain activities and songs went unbelievably high. Speaking of which, the hype and the buzz that people were able to generate, would not have been possible without the main and the basic ingredient of a social media platform, one's friends. The push generated by them played a key role in making people confident to go ahead and hit the publish/post button.

Even though things will get normal after a while, and these accounts which were created during the pandemic to showcase the baking skills or the drawing skills or the dancing skills will not be used that often, it ultimately helped people discover a part of themselves. It helped them develop that particular skill and most importantly, it helped them flourish during the pandemic.

Better off with or without?

So, if we have to reach a conclusion and say that the people during the Spanish Flu were better off due to no social media, we would be kidding ourselves. As explained above, even though people felt left out due to social media, the same social media brought out the best in people. Everyone is aware and must have heard the phrase, that everything has its pros and cons and social media is no different. I feel there is tremendous power in social media with not only regards to being able to help people, but in a lot of different ways as well, some of which maybe we haven’t even realised.

So basically yeah, if there were to be another pandemic (God hope not), I would prefer having social media by my side, just in case I decide to flourish :)


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