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Saving My ‘Apps

by Yasir Pirzada
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In a house, a person has confined a thirteen-year-old girl. She is in a state of fear, and he tosses her onto a bed. The girl tries to escape and hide in a room, but the man retrieves an AK-47 rifle. Two other individuals present attempt to restrain him, but apparently he remains uncontrollable.

This is footage of the moment when a bus filled with tourists fell off a bridge near the town of Venice, Italy, resulting in the death of twenty-one people, including children. The bodies of the deceased tourists are lying by the roadside.

In a church in Mexico, people have gathered for worship. The priest is delivering a sermon when suddenly the church roof collapses. Several individuals are injured, and three children lose their lives. The parents of these children are seen mourning and wailing.

This is a scene from a market in Karachi. A person is buying something from a vendor’s cart. Two young men arrive on a motorcycle, snatch his mobile phone and purse at gunpoint, and then shoot him without any resistance. Later, it was discovered that the deceased was a poor man and the father of two girls.

If you use Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, or any similar platforms, you may have seen such incidents captured on camera. These include scenes of sudden deaths or acts of violence involving ordinary people. It feels like we are becoming mentally desensitized to these incidents due to the constant exposure through social media apps. Every day, we come across footage that shows an unsuspecting person facing sudden death or violence, leaving us emotionally numb. We wonder where they ended up, how long it took for help to arrive, why they didn’t answer their phones, and why their phones were switched off.

In that one moment, all the images we have seen on social media apps, which we might have watched out of curiosity or even for entertainment, flash through our subconscious. Perhaps these images are affecting our mental health in ways we cannot fully grasp. It’s as if, over time, we are becoming mentally ill, though we might not realize it yet. People have created clips and videos titled, “What do you think if I don’t answer my mother’s call?” In one such video, a motorcycle rider is shown speeding and eventually meets with an accident, losing his life.

I am not a psychology expert who can investigate these issues and correlate them with the mental health of individuals. However, I believe that these sudden deaths and incidents are connected with an age-old fear buried in our minds, dating back to when humans lived in caves and were constantly surrounded by dangers they could not escape. Perhaps this fear is manifesting itself in the form of mental illness today, and social media apps are exacerbating it.

There are three possible solutions to this problem. The first is to completely stop using smartphones, but that’s not a practical solution for most people. The second is to continue using smartphones but uninstall all social media apps. This solution is better than the first one, but it’s challenging because these apps offer not only disturbing content but also entertainment that people enjoy. The third solution, which I prefer, is to limit smartphone usage by setting specific times for it, such as one hour in the morning and one hour at night. Also, keeping the phone in airplane mode at other times can help. Additionally, unfollowing accounts that contribute to mental stress and anxiety, particularly those that frequently share distressing videos and content, can be beneficial.

I believe that by implementing these solutions, we can improve our mental well-being. However, the underlying dilemma of why injustices and tragedies occur in the world and why innocent people suffer remains unanswered. These are questions we were taught about in childhood, but do the answers truly bring solace? This is the real dilemma!

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