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Are social media posts a mere pretence?

Posted January 11th, 2020, 10:44 AM IST

Are social media posts a mere pretence?

A man with a charming smile, a perfect dad, a fitness freak, someone who spent much of his time holidaying and partying, a man who had it all — how we were mislead by Kushal Punjabi’s social media posts!

When news of his suicide broke, his friends were left feeling shocked. One of Kushal’s dearest friends, Daljit Kaur, who had met him a short while ago, in a post addressed to Kushal posthumously, said “You were happy to be fit... You were happy about the circuit race.” Another close friend, Chetan Hansraj, in an interview says, “He was the light of every group... he always was happy and took care of himself and we never saw this coming.”

Obviously, none of the “good friends” had a clue about what he was going through.

In attempt to understand the tendency of people to hide their despair and show a public face of enjoyment and happiness, we spoke to psychologist Sharanya Jithin. “With the evolution of the Internet and social media, we are compelled to only post our achievements and never our failures,” she says. “Firstly, right from childhood, our parameters for development have been set in comparison with others. Social media aggravates the need for self-worth to a greater extent. The need for people to over-share information about their lives is because there is an audience that likes to tap this type of energy. Psychological satisfaction is a basic need of humans, and people tend to mistakenly consider this as the ultimate. Hence, a compliment for a happy post seems more satisfying and boosts one’s self-esteem as opposed to advice from someone upon posting about failures or disappointments on social media.”

Having the urge to keep your life transparent and over-sharing information can be harmful and lead to serious disorders, Sharanya cautions. “Excessive Internet use results in difficulty in maintaining daily responsibilities or performing normal daily chores. Although compulsive Internet use is not an officially recognised disorder, internet overuse does have a vast impact on our emotional wellbeing,” she adds.

Being part of the glamour industry puts one on the radar and maintaining a highly visible social life is essential. Actress Parul Yadav says it is okay to say you are sad, “It’s self-defeating to have an entirely made-up online life and there should be no shame in open displays of sadness. It’s very important to have a strong support group whether offline or online. We need to acknowledge that not all of us are as strong as we want to be.”

A common misconception about comedians is that they are always happy and stand up comedian Praveen Kumar believes that spending more time with your family could be the answer. “Expressing your feelings on social media is perceived in two ways. While it is good to cry out for help, some people also do this in an attempt to seek attention. It is essential for us to spend more time with our families to vent our true feelings,” is his view.