Social anxiety and Generation Z

Social media is designed to give wrong interpretations of every aspect of life

Muhammad Wajahat Sultan April 14, 2024
The writer is a UET graduate and holds Master’s degrees from Sargodha University and Allama Iqbal Open University Islamabad. He can be contacted at


In this age of hyper-connectivity, human beings are rather more disconnected and divided. Throughout human history, civilisation struggled to bridge communication gap and finally succeeded in the 20th Century in connecting more humans, cultures and societies through digital identities and globalisation. With the advent of the 21st Century, humans are getting scattered and fragmented due to social anxiety and a culture of comparison endowed through hyper-connectivity. Social anxiety is the reality of the contemporary age in which Generation Z is suffering and trying their best to survive. This anxious generation is suffering from acute mental illness and is deeply troubled.

Social anxiety is mostly about invisible and imperceptible facts. Social media is a big culprit in all this.

The first section discusses performance illusion. Social media argues for the idea of life and vitality through constant performance. This performance is based on pressurised tactics rather than intentional discourse. Youngsters come across different perspectives of success and accomplishments. Although observing the differential positions of success is desirable, this becomes a conflict and problem when the idea of success and accomplishment is celebrated too much. Instead of pushing for performance, the young minds need clarity about performing — clarity to take services as a career or entrepreneurship or market-oriented career spaces. Eventually, this causes a strain on the mind. Performance virtues pressure others to accomplish something as soon as possible. Due to all this, there is an inherent pressure to perform, and be relevant throughout life. The culture of proving oneself through performance and productivity exacerbates social anxiety in expectations of either success or failure.

The second section discusses social comparison. Social comparison has evolved as a mandatory part of young society. Instagram, Facebook and TikTok are the major contributors to the tendency among young people to make comparisons. Social media influencers in any domain don’t follow the protocols of empathetic humanity because they only present the best, refined and perfect portrayal of their lives. This leads the majority of youngsters to demean themselves for not getting what others their age are accomplishing. For example, Instagram-based CSS influencers in Pakistan or CSS qualifiers create a persona of a perfect life and achievements. This motivates a few and damages the majority. The ground realities of civil services or any service in Pakistan reflect a crisis. Evaluating oneself on criteria of others’ lives and struggles constantly pinch the young generation, which leads to anxiety and underperformance.

The third section is about the echo chamber effect. Social media reinforces pre-existing beliefs rather than diversifying opinions and structures of life. Individuals are exposed to limited perspectives and stuck in filter bubbles. This creates social anxiety because of limited knowledge and ideas about life.

Finally, social media is designed to give wrong interpretations of every aspect of life. Hyper-sexually oriented stuff gets more retention and watching time on reels and ads. Therefore, it has become part of Instagram, Facebook and TikTok’s strategy to mainstream such material. Eventually, it continuously appears in youngsters’ search and watching time. This is one aspect of how social media makes young people sexually frustrated. When a single video about a relationship or romance comes into the watching period, it raises arousal. And this, pathetically and undesirable, pushes for more dopamine. In the end, young minds become frustrated and socially depressed.

All of this is a structural fault. The structure of capitalism, hyper-consumerism and big corporations shadow the true spirit of life and create depressing portrayals of all aspects of life. Young minds are stuck in a vicious cycle due to a lack of lateral thinking. The solution lies in promoting analytical thinking.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2024.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.



Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ