I will be honest with you. I hardly read my Facebook feed; if I did not have to be on social media due to professional reasons, I wouldn’t.
From my understanding, social media was supposed to be the platform for communication to have a positive impact. I’m happy to see some are spreading the positivity; however, it is disappointing that there is so much aggression. I honestly miss the pre-internet era, maybe because I did not witness issues resulting from the virtual world.
As a child, I remember being “happy;” none of my friends or I were ever diagnosed with depression or any disorders as children. Nowadays, more and more children and adults are developing anxiety or the habit of overthinking. Growing up in the 90s and looking back at my old pictures, I don’t find one sad image. I remember being grateful and sharing with friends rather than competing. Nor do I recall being worried about affording a particular brand at the age of 12. I remember I used to jump in the mud and dance in the rain without a care in the world. These are the memories I’ll treasure forever.
These days I find adults and children in a constant state of worry and overthinking. If I tell you about my teenage years in the 2000s, I remember being super confident, and so were my friends. We always spoke about our goals and dreams rather than obsessively talking about boys. We were goal-focused teens; our worries were: which class should we sign up for, which degree will be beneficial, which school should we apply to, how to prep for SATs?
I still see brilliant goal-focused children and teens. However, we are also witnessing the conversations have changed; becoming an “influencer” is a career choice without much qualification.
As a life coach, when I work with families, the word “happy” is rarely spoken. Children, teens, and adults encounter challenges that I could’ve not imagined, and here I am, helping them through it. I do believe times have changed, but so have our influences. My influences were Lady Diana, Oprah Winfrey, Hazrath Khadija, Mother Teresa, and I would always read about their lives. I still see them as my heroes. A TikToker teenage girl has 102 million followers because of dancing and lip-syncing on other professional singers’ songs and receives endorsements from major companies.
Likewise, not with 102 million followers, but we also have young girls like Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg who reassure me there is hope. Our young people do have good examples to follow.
The internet revolution gave us alternatives for researching, communicating, and running a business; it also came with different challenges. We are more focused on social media. I admit it, I am too; then again, this is the day we live in. However, I believe my children, like other children, are missing out on real-life because the virtual world has become a considerable part of school, activities, and homework.
I have many parents asking me about limiting screen time, but right now, the majority of our time is in front of a screen. The habit needs to change in adults, in parents, before it changes in their children. For example, being a mom of two teenagers myself, I tell them I put away my phone at 5 pm; you need to do this, too. Teaching by example and not coming across as a hypocrite is what I suggest to parents. You have to practice what you preach.
Individuals can use virtual platforms for a tremendous impact, and I genuinely believe that, because I am. Unfortunately, with so much negativity, popularity, unhealthy competitiveness, politics, and differences of opinions, it is being used in a harmful manner. We worry about our youth, social media, and other internet concerns, such as cybersecurity, but the problems are the same for adults.
I get it, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and we have an abundance of them online. Still, it is also true that no one is obligated to listen and implement everything that is being said or have a reaction to it. “Pick and choose what you rightfully believe, and back it up with your research,” is the advice I often find myself giving my clients.
The children and adults of today are into “trends,” “likes,” “comments,” forgetting these are not necessarily what defines them. “Think about your boundaries in real life with actual friends and family, then think about who you present yourself as online. Are you mindful of your in-person and virtual presence, or have you developed a separate virtual personality?” I ask this set of questions to make my clients think.
The values we carry in real life should be applied to our presence online as well. For instance, I believe in practicing spirituality; I believe every living thing, animal, plant and human needs to be treated with kindness, respect, and compassion. I make a conscious choice to be the same person when I am present virtually or in-person.
Between the real world and the virtual world, we are beginning to miss out on the essential purpose of existence and moving toward hatred, insults, harm, and virtual abuse. The photos have various filters but not words. To add, whoever thought losing followers would be another sense of “grief.”
These new times bring us to a place where compassion, kindness, and respect are the rarest elements to be found. I see an increase in individuals’ insecurities just over the time I have been a life coach. Mindsets are evolving, however, not in the best of ways for adults and children.
Someone once said to me, “Your optimism is toxic.” So, I can only imagine how my positivity and message of self-love and discovery may be hard to swallow when we are attacking and judging others so quickly in this virtual world. Now, imagine how the attackers may feel about themselves if they attack others? Opinions are being followed and are not facts; we have begun to live in a virtual world where popularity is vital but not wisdom. As a life coach, it worries me.
I will not stop spreading the message of self-love and discovery. I want to help create the mindsets that are consistent and increase awareness between one’s reality and their virtual existence. Your presence changes, but you don’t. Your life results from who you believe you are, and you need to think you are deserving of the best of life you can create.
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