By Jagruti Verma Aug. 09, 2022
Some days I want to burn a gazillion calories and get a six-pack and on other days I want to cook my favourite meals, be a glutton and accept myself as I am. The problem is there are an equal number of people on social media giving ‘gyaan’ on both, and I tend to endlessly switch between the two.
Scrolling through short vertical videos fits into pretty much any and every hour of my day. They trigger responses in me, sometimes just enough for me to get out of bed and cook myself a meal or maybe order a specific one. They lead me to imagine a world of possibilities, travel and hope. They even make me furious beyond imagination. Social media influencers and creators have unsaid powers over me and my days. There is a rhythm to it. A mechanism that goes beyond algorithms and sponsored content. I both love and hate it.
However, some tales, as gripping as they may be, don’t impact me in any way. I scroll past them without paying much attention. Later, the same content might hold my gaze and mind space for a longer time. These reactions, I have come to realise, mirror my emotions at the time. No matter how alluring the video, I decide. So on a good day I’m looking fitness freaks and following 6-step weight loss programs in my mind, and on bad days I’m nodding along with body positivity activists who tell you let yourself be. At the end of it all, something happens, but also absolutely nothing happens.
So on a good day I’m looking fitness freaks and following 6-step weight loss programs in my mind, and on bad days I’m nodding along with body positivity activists who tell you let yourself be.
I love to watch cooking videos. They are so cathartic! There is a delicious, mouth-watering meal to devour at the end — someone sure gets to eat it! I have followed some of those recipes to the T. On some days, I can feel their impact on the little things I do — the tips and tricks making their way into my everyday life. Hacks that I’m delighted I can remember and employ. Then there are those dreamy travel videos! They teach me quite a lot about different places and cultures. They show me a glimpse of possibilities and bliss.
The idea that I could buy a plane ticket and fly out miles when I’m sad is very inviting, especially on cruel Mondays. However, it’s not in sync with my bank account, leave entitlements and just, generally, life. Nor is every meal I ever cook or eat as sophisticated as the one that takes days of build-up. The point is, life before influencers was perhaps about accidentally finding bliss, experimenting on your own. Now everything has been done, and simply redo it with the pressures of liking it because of course ‘they’ do it and like it.
The idea that I could buy a plane ticket and fly out miles when I’m sad is very inviting, especially on cruel Mondays. However, it’s not in sync with my bank account, leave entitlements and just, generally, life.
Right after a video nudging me to drool over an attractive man, I come across one that makes me think about the nuances of gender and body positivity. My brain finds it tough to comprehend the mixed messaging — If I am against the male gaze and objectification of female bodies, how can I be okay when it happens to a man? The same goes for basic financial planning, a burden of ageing. Someone tells me invest here, someone tells me invest there, some people on Instagram are saying ‘you only live once’ and on twitter it seems no one is living at all. Maybe the only way to get past this is to power down, but unwittingly I’ve stepped into a professional line where I can’t help but take these people seriously.
Some scroll adventures take me into conflict zones where a part of me is screaming ‘This is wrong!’ while another part feels ‘But hey, this is real!’. The said content usually revolves around concepts of gender, romance and life. When I see a woman sharing a story of how she juggles it all, I feel a sense of pride in her — while also hating the world for forcing her to do it all and myself for applauding it. I find jokes about lazy husbands funny — but I also feel furious about how the way men are raised in our country. I love to watch videos featuring cute babies and kids — but I am also scared for their safety and it amounts to violation of their private lives. Would they ever grow up to accept it I wonder? Or worse would they ever know a life without it?
I love to watch videos featuring cute babies and kids — but I am also scared for their safety and it amounts to violation of their private lives.
I’ve often fallen prey to misinformation, poorly curated history lessons and facts that ought to have been checked. Because the mind believes what it wants to believe I have often trusted the wrong and denied the truth. It’s me, now I feel, who has become truth averse, happy to scroll past facts to get to something else that feels palatable, agreeable. This is social media, taking over the miniscule half of my life where I believe, or used to, that it did not exist. But it does, in manipulative, life-altering ways that I could never have assumed I’d let anything be.