I am seated in a fine-dining restaurant, about to start my meal. But first, let me take a selfie! I go to watch the latest blockbuster movie at the cinema hall. Wait, I have to update my status! I purchased an evening dress for prom night. Hold on, time to click a photo and upload it!

Social networking sites have cast a spell and browsing through the virtual world features on the itinerary of almost every teenager. Social media has turned individuals into social media addicts. Checking notifications on Facebook, photographs on Instagram, updates on Twitter, chats on Whatsapp and keeping up with the latest activity online has become part and parcel of daily life. Not checking up-to-second happenings in the virtual world makes life seem at a stand-still and restlessness seeps into all other goings-on in the real world.

An individual constantly updates her/his status and photos on Facebook and holds her/his breath until judgment time. The ‘like’, ‘comment’ and ‘share’ options become the scorecard and determine a person’s popularity. To remain in the limelight, the individual keeps posting statuses and photographs either with the same pose or an all-new pose to gain brownie points on the popularity meter. An individual may copy-paste a quote to appear intellectual and one’s individuality disappears almost immediately. There is a desire to outperform oneself yet, to affirm and conform to the popular image created. A space meant for leisure becomes a space to perform consistently in order to achieve and maintain online approval.

The number of social networkers turned photographers and models is remarkable. Social networking sites are flooded with DSLR holders (and their pages) establishing claims of being a photographer. More so, it is filled with so-called models who dress in an LBD and stilettos and pose in a garden with different angles to the photographs. Black and white photographs are the in-thing and are defined as classic and timeless. The thoughts of a person staring out the window are explained by way of captions, instead of letting the imagination and reflections of the viewers flow. Colorful flowers and green leaves, click it! These images are high on popularity quotient and guarantee the ticket to instant fame.

Slowly and steadily, our virtual self becomes a greater person than our real self. Our ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ on such platforms tend to outnumber our real friends and followers. Appreciation is the need of all human beings. Especially in teenage life, we seek approval for what we think, do and say. An individual, who is unable to receive admiration in the real world, turns to the virtual world for consolation. We flaunt our happiness, success, and anything we are proud of and receive awe, appreciation and admiration. Our sadness, frustration and low times are accepted with sympathy, understanding and advice. The virtual world is open whereas the real world exercises restrictions, objections and limits our freedom, independence and exposure to the happenings around us. In the real world, you are the girl-next-door whereas you are a star in the virtual world.

The way you perceive social networking sites is of utmost importance. It all depends on what you decide to reveal and your intentions behind the revelation. If your intentions are to stay in touch by sharing statuses and photos in order to keep your far-off family and friends updated, it is the reason why social networking sites were created. However, if your intentions are to make-up for your loss in the real world by reinforcing your popularity online, ‘you’ are no longer ‘you’. Basing one’s self-worth on online approval hijacks the idea of individuality.

Your individuality defines you. It is what sets you apart from the rest. Originality, imagination and creativity are exclusive to every individual. You are unique; you are one of a kind. Appreciate the quality of being an individual and be yourself on social networking sites. Social networking sites are fun places to be at but only in small doses – be a moderate social media addict!

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Kimberly Rowe

Kimberly Rowe

I would describe myself as a happy-go-lucky girl and a very optimistic person. Being a learner-oriented person, I'm always interested in exploring new fields and opportunities. I am very confident and passionate about everything I do or want to do.