Who is the fairest of them all? Social media gives you reflections of a thousand mirrors; most of the portals lead to a parallel reality. A profile may portray a wish rather than a true reflection. Authenticity can be scary. The truth is out there.
– Maria Lehtman
No one lives in a less authentic world than our digital nomad children today. Commercial advertising is not doing anyone any favors. Even when people know that images are consistently modified, edited, filtered, and changed, it is almost impossible to reflect who stands behind them and avoid an impact on self-esteem.
We live in a conflicted world where people call after authenticity without being ready to accept who the person behind the scenes is. Now and then I scan through profiles in social media and media. A beautiful, well-built figure of a man or a woman tells a story. What surprises me is when I find an authentic account that shares a story of the person’s challenges. Someone may be a cancer survivor, another one a victim of a car accident. The beautifully built imagery tells a story of hard work, tears, and suffering to build a body back into shape. Those are the stories that inspire me – the beauty of human determination, and courage to share the whole journey.
We are all aware of how constant screen time affects the mind – however, there is another angle and reason for increasing depression after mobiles conquered the societies. In a recent TV interview, a psychiatrist talked about the increasing depression young people suffer today. Given that over 80% of children own a mobile phone and are part of social networks, he explained that social media creates a heightened level of transparency. Many young people are widely networked with their peers in-country and abroad.
When a friend, or a friend of a friend, has issues, one can read about them, hear their call for help, and yet not be able to support them. People feel incapacitated by the pain of others without tools or resources to help them out. We can all relate to how that feels – if we watch the daily news continuously during the day and see the suffering of the world, the images become imprinted on our minds. What if you feel that pain, sadness, and despair in your own network 24/7?
The dark side of the mirror
The other issues raising even more concern are trolling and cyberbullying. If you end up being the target of your peers for malicious attacks, you have minimal means to defend yourself. Peers and social culture expect you to exist online with a consistent digital footprint. If that online community turns against a member, the person becomes outcast and lose their entire network.
Anyone who has been bullied at school or workplace can relate to that. In some cases, other outlets remain, e.g., another community of friends, church members, sports or other club memberships. However, when a profile exists online, cyberbullying zooms in with a purpose is to isolate their targets from everywhere they live online.
According to TechJulry, 38% of children (in the US) have experienced cyberbullying at least once. What is even more disturbing that cyberbullying specifically targets diversity, especially cultural diversity. In a world where cultures increasingly collide, we should be creating a pool of transversal skills and ecosystems. Instead, we are using technology to take us back more than 100 years.
Technology is naturally a means to do both good and bad. Overall the digital transformation has shown us that children who are raised with a balanced upbringing, living life inside and outside social media, are better adapted to handle obstacles. ChildMind Institute has an excellent article that covers many of the issues caused by increased screen time and mobile use. We should all learn to harness mobile skills to the optimum rather than the maximum.