I had a frightening realization after watching ‘The Social Dilemma’; I realized that I’ve been behaving almost exactly like the movie predicted I would. The only reason I watched the movie in the first place was so that I wouldn’t fall behind on the trend of watching the new hot documentary that was getting rave reviews.
Trends have existed for as long as I can remember. Even when we were younger, the innocent demands and desire to carry only Adidas or Nike backpacks to school, or the compulsion to get a cool haircut were all because of the trends in our immediate surroundings. Most of us just jumped on these bandwagons only so we could experience some form of validation.
With most of us staying indoors lately, it feels like there’s a new game trending every month, be it PUBG, Ludo, or most recently Among Us. It’s a little suspicious how I got into Among Us when I’m not into games at all. But, for some reason, I felt compelled to try it out. Maybe it’s because everyone around me was obsessed with it or, maybe it was because I didn’t want to feel left out. More often than not, if someone we look up to does something, our fickle minds make us feel the irresistible urge to try it out for ourselves only so we can feel we’re as relevant as they are.
It was around 2015-2016 when Instagram started to become popular, and with it came an onslaught of problems like body dysmorphia, fear of missing out, and the need for excessive validation. It makes me feel old when I look back on long-forgotten trends like fidget spinners or the ‘In my feelings’ challenge. Despite those being only a couple of years old, you won’t see anyone participating in those trends online anymore.
Ironically, a recent trend has been taking a social media detox and talking about it later on those very platforms. All talk of using it in moderation has pretty much been made irrelevant because now of the pandemic, with a vast majority of people now spending significant chunks of their day online. Many have turned to social media as a coping mechanism to adjust to the lack of real-life experiences they’ve had during these trying times.
Social media is made by humans, for humans, and this is why it’s so quick to grab our attention. While many may dismiss it for being addictive, much like a drug, there are instances where it has proved to have a positive impact. When the #MeToo movement started trending on Twitter, it brought about an opportunity for women around the world to finally shed light on the years of mistreatment and harassment they’ve experienced. The Black Lives and the Dalit Lives matter movements reminded people that discrimination still exists in some form in modern society. In this day and age, your favourite internet personality could be blowing up one week and be canceled the next for doing or saying something inappropriate or offensive.
While all fads aren’t necessarily bad, there are always a set of problems that come with each one. It is easy for us to say that we should be pragmatic and only utilize the good aspects of the platforms, but it is much harder to put into practice. Whether we like it or not, we have to experience the uglier side of these platforms to know how to reap any benefits from using them. That being said, it is ultimately up to us to decide what we take away from the newest trends and, it is our choice whether we want to incorporate that in our own lives or not.