Happy In Virtual, Unhappy In Real World!

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Are We Living in a Post-Happiness World?

Saiqa Jan

These modern times where we live in an era of advanced technology, high-speed internet available at our fingertips, and countless social networking apps that allow us to connect with people all around the world, with a click of a button we can be part of our friend’s lives living in different continents, and with a click of a button we can share our most important and beautiful moments/ phases of life.

We can reach out to hundred of people from around the world in a matter of minutes. We can suggest a hundred things to the people living even in the remotest corners of the world. Advancement of technology has made us more connected than we have ever been. In older times we couldn’t have even thought of such a closely knitted web that can connect you to world in a matter of seconds.

But as we go deeper into the study of this closeness we come to realise that if the advancement of technology has brought us so close to each other, how come there are more socially isolated people in real life? If technology has helped us maintain a very good connection with all of our friends and family then, why do people still feel lonely and get depressed and isolate themselves eventually leading to even suicides?

But as we go deeper into the study of this closeness we come to realise that if the advancement of technology has brought us so close to each other, how come there are more socially isolated people in real life? If technology has helped us maintain a very good connection with all of our friends and family then, why do people still feel lonely and get depressed and isolate themselves eventually leading to even suicides?

Why do relationships seem fake and why do we see everyone complaining about having trust issues and not being able to connect in real life with the people?

Why are our suicide rates higher than ever?

Why is the depression rate getting higher and higher with each passing day?

Why do people develop and suffer through various psychosocial problems?

Why are we emotionally and psychologically so vulnerable that the only way out seems to be self-harm?

Why are we very adjustable and easy to get along with on social networks whilst we find it difficult to do the same in real life?

Here I am not trying to degrade the place and value of social networking and technological advancement, instead what I am emphasising on is the need and dependency we feel in our lives upon social networking and technology in general. We have become so dependent upon it that we don’t realise that we are missing out on real life. We try and condition our brains to find our happiness virtually. We have hundreds of friends online who we text, who we chat and talk with, but when we close our social networking sites, shut down our computers or cellphones, who do we have with ourselves?

How many of us meet up and interact with strangers in a park? None. Because we aren’t supposed to, because we don’t know how those people are going to turn out and react to us interacting with them. But how many of us follow those self-made rules and regulations of interaction with strangers on social media?

The answer to that is none, because in our heads our virtual space is our safe space, a place where we can express ourselves better, express our emotions better, interact with strangers and make new friends. But have we ever thought that all this display of emotions and interactions is getting faker and faker along the way somewhere? Have we ever questioned ourselves about why we need all those likes? All those comments? Why do we need that entire technologically social acceptance? Why do we feel a compulsion to check and recheck our posts and see who liked, who disliked and who said what about our very own emotions?

Why is it that every time we get a negative comment we feel more affected and hit by it than a damn! Tornado itself?

I know many of you might be thinking right now, well! That doesn’t happen with me, but deep down even you know that you crave that social attention, that acceptance and the feeling of belongingness you get when your posts hit a huge number of likes and comments. You feel satisfied once your posts blow up, that’s from where the process of social loneliness (as I call it) starts because once you’ve hit the mark, then you feel the pressure. The pressure to do better next time, the pressure which spins you around, makes you go take a million pictures and choose one to post it, because you need those likes and if you don’t get them you won’t  be satisfied.  In that pressure you neglect your real emotions and start posting and pretending to be someone who you are not, you make your life look picture perfect, when it isn’t that way. You share your emotions and moments online pretending to be happier than you are, and whilst doing that you are slowly isolating yourself from people existing in your real life.

At first you find your happiness online among the group of people who you think are exactly like you in terms of feelings, emotions, likings, disliking, and whatnot. You start living two lives at the same time, one is a virtual life while as the other is the real life you have which you tend to ignore every time you hop into that virtual roller coaster and ride away with the thrill and fun of it and all this happens so gradually that you don’t even realise that it’s happening, until you reach a point where all the fun and thrill starts to vanish away, where you start to realise that you do a double time living two lives is of no good to you. A point where you realise that virtual acceptance isn’t enough, where you need someone to be by your side in real life, but you find none because the world you created for yourself, the happiness you got was all virtual and not real and that’s where the process of technological depression starts.

You start going into self-hate, you think of yourself as not being good enough, like you are lacking something, which you aren’t, then you start feeling lonely as if you had the world in one minute and another you had nothing. And all that leads to the only way, the road to the socialised loneliness.

It’s sadly amusing how we subject our happiness to a virtual world. We create and ignore the real world, and eventually we come back to the real world to find the same happiness that we have already misplaced and is-attached to something else. Technology is no longer a part of our lifestyle, but it has become the lifestyle itself and maybe that’s why we feel so incomplete and lonely, because the more we dive into it the more we lose the taste and fun of simple things in life.

It’s sadly amusing how we subject our happiness to a virtual world. We create and ignore the real world, and eventually we come back to the real world to find the same happiness that we have already misplaced and is-attached to something else. Technology is no longer a part of our lifestyle, but it has become the lifestyle itself and maybe that’s why we feel so incomplete and lonely, because the more we dive into it the more we lose the taste and fun of simple things in life.

We share our virtual emotions but no one actually knows what we feel for real, because they see what we make them see and they cannot see beyond that. No one can see beyond a fake smile in a picture, because we have them believe that our life is exactly as it looks in the posts, and we do the same with others as well. We put ourselves and our emotions in comparison with others online and unknowingly get ourselves drowned into more self-pity and self-hate at the same time and that is what makes us chaotic inside out.

The truth is no one is as happier as they show online, you can never make out a difference between real and fake happiness virtually, but doing all this we are not only tricking people into believing we are happy but we also trick ourselves and maybe that is why when the moment of realisation comes to us, most of us cannot even handle that and give up to the first and most stupid thoughts that come to mind. It’s like self-caging ourselves, getting used to the feeling and then not wanting to come out of it.

Author is a Social Media Analyst. She can be reached at jansaiqa7@gmail.com

After reading this you might think I am asking you to give up on technology and social networking all together but that’s not what it is. This is meant to make you understand whether you are using technology or you are being used by it.

All this was made to make us feel more connected when in reality, how we use it has gotten us to move away from each other.

Studies show that due to the excessive use of technology and social media people have developed a dependency upon it which leads to various psychological problems and diseases like FOMO (fear of missing out), Insomnia due to problems with circadian rhythms, depression, and not to mention the ill effects of electronic gadgets on eyes and brain.

Technology is not the problem. The way we use it, is. That is where the problem lies and that is where we need to find the loopholes and fix them to have a better life in real and not a virtual one.

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