A small but growing number of youngsters are deleting their social media accounts and shying away from installing these apps on their smartphones, even as India emerges as the largest open internet market in the world.
Indians downloaded about 4.8 billion applications in the first quarter of 2019, more than any other country in the world, according to data from market intelligence firm Sensor Tower, with TikTok, owned by Chinese startup ByteDance, being the most downloaded.
Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger were also in the top ten.
However, there are young people who see the ill effects of using these apps and are ditching them. They believe that platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Helo are addictive and productivity killers, and in some cases, hurt self-esteem due to constant comparison of posts of their friends and peers.
Most of these youngsters continue to use smartphones that allow them to access the internet, and have productivity and educative apps on them.
“Social media implicitly sets standards that everyone is forced to abide by. Self-esteem issues stem from this,” said 20-year-old Ramya Narayan from Chennai. She added, “The presence of a truckload of editing and filter apps creates the need to succumb to one kind of body image.”
Many complain that social media is a major productivity killer. “I reached a point where I began to look forward to notifications from social media apps. It distracted me while I was in class and my grades started dipping,” said 21-year-old medical student Vivek, who quit Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat eight months ago.
Lakshmi echoed a similar sentiment, “It is so easy to waste time on social media. There is already very less time at the moment. This is just unproductivity waiting to happen.”
Hours of endless scrolling that does not accumulate to anything productive leads to users consuming repetitive content and feeling overwhelmed. “After a point, there is nothing new to witness on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. With people imitating each other’s content, we are seeing only clones on the platform. There is a dearth of originality,” Vivek said.
While clicking a photo, it has now become a norm to check if the picture is ‘Instagram worthy’ or ‘Facebook worthy’.
“I started feeling the pressure to click pictures and upload it on Facebook, even though I didn’t want to. I became privy to too much information all at once. It became an overwhelming experience,” said Rakshitha R, a college student who quit Facebook four years ago and hasn’t joined any other social media platform after that.
Experts say that social media’s instant gratification affect the morale of youngsters.
“Most of the youngsters on social media begin to feel that everyone’s life is perfect. They don’t feel fulfilled enough,” said Aatma Shetty, a psychologist, who has seen a rise in the number of youngsters seeking counselling for addiction during holidays. She asks youngsters to get off any kind of social media, while counselling them for mental health problems.
However, Digital Media brand strategist Karthik Srinivasan insists that young adults must be on social media because they would be missing out on a lot of perspectives that others in their age bracket would be exposed to. “That perspective is important as it is coming from people in their age group, talking about things that matter to them that aren’t necessarily covered by mainstream media. There is a lot to gain through these perspectives.”