Opinion | Speak Your Mind

Focus: Living on social media

When everything you do is shared on social media, how does it impact your perception of reality? In this week’s debate the first six Gulf News readers who sent in their requests participated in an online discussion on the issue. If you want to participate, write to us at readers@gulfnews.com or log on to our Facebook page

  • Compiled by Huda Tabrez Community Web Editor
  • Published: 14:31 December 14, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit:
  • Syed Luqman Faraz Technical support manager living in Dubai
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11:11 Gulf News: Social media has promoted narcissism, so people have no time for empathy.

11:13 Sumanta Banerjee: I completely agree. Yet, for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier or more narcissistic, and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. One small example from a report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society - when you sign up for Google+ and set up your friend circle, the programme specifies that you should only include “your real friends, the ones you feel comfortable sharing your private details with”. That one little phrase – your real friends – perfectly encapsulates the anxieties that social media has produced.

11:22 Salim Mohammad: True. Social media is designed in a way that gives a lot of importance to one’s self and not to others’ feelings. Its all about ‘me’ and never ‘you’ or ‘us’.

11:36 Aisha Naseem: I strongly disagree. I think people have become more connected with people of different nationalities, on different issues. What’s more is that social media has given a platform to share important bits of information in real time, and one is able to garner support and help in a very short span of time. It is those who abuse such a facility that give it a bad name. One should always know where to draw the line.

11:39 Syed Luqman Faraz: The lack of empathy will be there for people you only know through the social network. If you know the person in real life, you are more connected with them. So you know if the complaining is a dangerous sign or a bad hair day. Sometimes, you just read between the lines and you know you have to make the call.

11:43 Gulf News: Social media creates a false sense of connection, so people fail to seek real help.

11:44 Sumanta Banerjee: Partly my answer is in the affirmative. Tools are a wonderful part of today’s information age, but if you’re going to use social networks or social media, it is important to remember the common denominator: social. Without an understanding of your community and the influencers, you’re destined for failure. Very often we see someone trying to hand out fliers on busy street corners, trying to get our attention. Nine times out of ten, that person is ignored. Of those people who actually do take the flier, most do so out of sympathy and toss it out at their earliest opportunity. At the end of the day, most of the people are just not interested. The moot point is that people are still taking the “spray and pray” approach to promotion - touch as many people as possible and hope for a small return. I would rather take that extra effort to build lasting relationships.

11:48 Salim Mohammad: Yes, people tend to depend too much on social media, they forget to take the help needed or available. Not all persons are strong enough to react positively. We just have an outburst, sometimes, and could take wrong decisions very quickly.

11:49 Fatima Suhail: People feel they are connected with friends and those who would help during times of distress. However, this is not the case. The virtual connection that people remain most concerned about in reality prevents us from seeking real help from people who would genuinely come forward to extend their hands to us.

11:50 Syed Luqman Faraz: There is a picture doing rounds on the internet that says, “Face your problems, don’t Facebook them”. Now that is an amazing piece of wisdom, because facing your problem means finding someone to first tell it to. That is where you begin.

11:54 Gulf News: People overestimate the fund and joy in other’s lives, pushing some towards depression by comparison.

11:55 Syed Luqman Faraz: Yes, that is a bother, too. I’ve been through that phase where I saw friends studying abroad and there was a party every weekend. It kind of annoyed the rest of us to see how much fun he was having while we worked 9-5. But that solution lies at home. What home does that person go back to? Does he go back to a happy home or not? Does he or she have real friends as opposed to bits and bytes of online personas, which are heavily edited? The day I realised that I’m surrounded by friends I can meet and greet more often than not, the Facebook jealousy died out.

11:56 Aisha Naseem: But one wakes up to bad news in the news papers nearly every morning, with innocent people being killed, bombings, scandals involving very respectable individuals. Why would you want to log into your choice of social network and read more bad news? We are naturally attracted to goodness and happiness. In such times at least, if there ever was a reason to feel sad, we look for happiness to counter it. However, it is different how people interpret things.

11:57 Salim Mohammad: People you see outside are the same as you are. No one is too different from others. All have their own happiness and sadness together. But you get to know that they are the same person as you are only after you get to know them well. Let them live and live your own life. That should be made the mantra. 11:58 Sairah Zakir: An example of how social media affects relationships is if someone updated their status saying, “Had a great time with my hubby on our first year anniversary”. The other women reading this status are thinking, “Oh, on my first anniversary my husband didn’t do anything”. She goes to the husband and brings his mood down, too. I mean, come on, stop comparing yourself to others on Facebook. We live in a world, where if we need to speak about something to someone, we don’t use text messages or phones, or we don’t say it in person. We simply update our status, indirectly talking to them.

11:59 Fatima Suhail: Social media sites, such as Facebook where we post all our happy and joyful pictures, to some extent may trigger the feelings of jealousy amongst others who may not be as satisfied in life as ours seems. Therefore, when a time comes that we genuinely are faced with problems, people do not pay any heed to our issues because they only have the perception of us from the ‘good times’.

12:02 Sairah Zakir: People need to change their perception about social media. It is better to speak to the person you are facing an issue with, rather than updating statuses. And yes, most importantly, your life is much better than others’, no matter how depressed you feel. So please stop comparing your life with people’s life on status updates. One status or some fun pictures should not be the reason of jealousy or feelings of depression. We need to change the perception.

- Compiled by Huda Tabrez/Community Web Editor

Gulf News asked: Do you think social networks are adding to the sense of depression in people’s lives?

Yes 89%

No 11%

Gulf News