Social media has made perfect look achievable, so now reality has become undesirable.

Author unknown

Today, social media is doing a number on our young people. Authentic friendships and real face-to-face interactions have been supplanted by how many “likes” one gets on a posting. Many young people today crow about the thousands of friends that they have amassed on their social media platforms. Yet these so-called “friends” are simply casual followers of numerous people. 

Despite having so many online friends, our young people are experiencing an energy-draining loneliness. The minute they awake, they are on their phones scrolling to check out the latest friend request or check on how many “likes” they’ve received overnight. In addition to monitoring the ego-boosting likes and friendship requests, they are subject to outlandish claims of how one can go from being penniless to billionaire status just with a few questionable so-called life hacks. 

On the surface, some of these “life hacks” appear to be reasonable and useful. Yet, there is no guarantee that, individually or collectively, they will have enough thrust to jettison them from their parent’s basement to a Manhattan penthouse. 

Regardless of how much faith one places in ‘life hacks,’ success is the result of hard work. As the adage goes, “the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” Still, social media interactions create and promote illusions of greatness and importance where neither exists. These illusions are built on a constant and unending stream of stories about entertainers, athletes and zero-to-hero entrepreneurs. The underlying message is that ‘anybody’ can achieve outlandish success if only they (1) ignore the doubters, aka, haters, (2) manifest, without hard work, a bountiful future and, (3) steadfastly “believe in their vision,” even if it is not grounded. They become addicted to and trapped in their own self-serving perception of reality. 

Like any addiction, social media extracts an enormous toll on one’s mental and physical health. The addicted spend hours scrolling and looking for posts that reinforce their biases and world view. As a result, social media becomes an opioid that keeps them high and passive in real life/time. 

Sadly, this addiction also has an unintended consequence of making the person reject any feedback that challenges their point of view. In other words, they become “learner blocked.” 

Ironically, it is exactly this feedback that they really need if they’re serious about their goal(s). If one does not accept their perspective, that person is either a hater or jealous. We watch them mentally drift into another dimensional wormhole. While we can still see and hear them as they are being sucked into this alternate dimension, unfortunately our words seemingly can’t reach them. 

Nonetheless, we must be persistent and not give up. Only truth and compassion can and will save them from this vacuous space of empty promises of fame and wealth.

Kwame S. Salter is president of the Salter Consulting Group LLC.

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