AUTHOR: Sabina Gill
(Student at MCM DAV College)
Recently when she deactivated her social media accounts, there was a lot of speculation among the gossip mongers as to what could have made her take this drastic step and what triggered her to press the kill switch (a.k.a. the red emergency power off button, in space shuttles in sci- fi movies)
So the self-appointed jury of gossip mongers sits on judgement and pronounces her as “Depressed.”
Now looking at the conclusion provided by them. What is most demeaning is their insensitive choice of words, used to describe her potential mental state. The word ‘Depressed’ being casually thrown around in general conversation as if it does not have a deeper, more significant connotation. Rather than using the layman’s term of being sad, they labelled her ‘Depressed’ which in fact is a clinical condition. Even if, by chance their prognosis aligns with the actual reason of her leave of absence, would they do anything to help her out? The rumour mill, is like the modern day media, it simply broadcasts the happenings and does not get to the root of the problem or look for solutions.
According to an interesting Psychological theory called Fundamental Attribution Error, we humans are conditioned to arbitrary guesswork and jump to our limited pool of knowledge to assign causes to any so called discrepancies in behaviour, and we generally assign an internal cause for unsocial behaviour of others, but when it comes to ourselves in the same position, we prefer giving the effect an external cause. Like in this case – When person ‘X’ goes off social media for whatever reason, people are quick to attribute this effect to the cause that ‘She’s depressed or ‘antisocial’, but when these same attributers quit for whatever reason, they like to shrug it off with an external undertone such as, “I’m just taking a break.” Or “I’m simply detoxifying and removing all distractions.”
While the reason for her sabbatical might have been something as trivial as- Removing apps which take up too much space on her phone. She made a constant effort to prolong her stay on social media platforms so that she’s not called names behind her back.
And it’s true for a lot of us who join and sustain ourselves on social media, just to be marked present. So that the known and unknown do not conjecture causes for our non-presence, because anyone who is absent is called a ‘dinosaur’ or someone ‘living under a rock’.
So why is it such a big deal to others, when we cease operations of our alternate superfluous identities, but are very much physically present in the real world? It seems the hollow social persona has overshadowed the real living and feeling person.
We need to normalise this brave act of absenteeism from social media because we need more authentic, real people and reactions than put on exaggerated acts of camaraderie and jubilation on the digital front.