While the world battles a deadly pandemic that has managed to incapacitate most economies, a new wave of positivity has emerged from the darkness. Celebrities, who are currently finding 'silver linings' amid the lockdown have now found the hitherto lacking availability of free time and have started motivating fans to be healthy, productive and creative amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
It started with Dalgona coffee and was all fun and games then, but now when we are staring at ‘Lockdown 5.0’ with the end of the tunnel nowhere in sight, this constant supply of positivity is getting a little toxic. When a Ranveer Singh, Shilpa Shetty or Ayushmann Khurrana urge their fans to work out with their "beast mode on", it feels like they are not asking people to be healthy but to cater to their Bollywood mandated beauty standards.
While celebrities might not notice many people aren't quarantining with pianos in their home, their incessant push for people to be on their toes during a pandemic has led to posts circulating on social media saying, "If you do not leave this lockdown with a new skill, you don't lack time but discipline."
Tejaswi Shetty, a Delhi-based psychologist and therapist, weighed in on this phenomenon. “About toxic positivity, I would say that social media is a curated version of your life. This doesn't allow for different experiences, which include the so called negative emotions. Whether it's stress or just feeling sad or your fears. Then there is the expectation that we have to live life in a particular way. That can lead to a cycle of unrealistic expectations, a lot of experience of depression and stress. This could also be among people who are privileged and not really fighting for their basic needs,” she said.
She added, "A lot of people are feeling guilty about their privileges. It’s also becoming quite frequent.”
Dr Anshu Kulkarni, Consultant Psychiatrist Raheja-Fortis hospital, Mumbai, witnessed added signs of distress in her clients from early March, way before the lockdown was implemented. She said, "There comes a need for validation of these negative feelings. It is extremely important to understand and empathise that these are difficult times and it is human to feel fearful and frustrated in these circumstances. Many people with different lookouts will react differently to these circumstances. Some people are not able to handle these circumstances and being in denial may be their coping mechanism. They think that everything is hunky-dory in their life and they should do activities to take their mind off them.”
She continued, “Whereas the people who are very melancholic, they just kind of brood and think, 'oh my god, hell has broken loose on me, what will happen now?' Both extremes are not healthy."
The experts also addressed why celebrities mostly push for a flawless image of themselves on social media. Dr. Anshu said, "Our social image may be very different than our real image. So, putting up a video may not really mean that everything is hunky dory in their space. They might be too used of doing exercises and other activities.”
Dr Tejaswi, on the other hand, believes that celebrities often find it difficult to be honest on social media due to the fear of flak. "A lot of times vulnerability is looked down upon as weak. There’s a lot of stigma even with people who approach us for help. So, to be able to show those emotions and express those emotions publicly is like opening up yourself to criticism or even just a different perception which may or may not be acceptable to people."
"It would be great if there was more conversation around the so called darker emotions. When people share on public forums, it allows others to connect and feel that it's okay. They realise a sense of solidarity with others,” she concluded.
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