Shehzad Shaikh: Being on social media is an added workload for me

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Actor Shehzad Shaikh, who is currently seen in Sindoor KiKeemat oon Dangal TV, says that social media today rules the world. The actor says that while he knows social media is integral for his survival as an artist today, he is not very fond of the medium.

“I spend a lot less time than what I should be spending on social media. I think I am the definition of social media detox. Being in social media and having to do things on social media is an added work load for me,” he says.

The actor says that many times the medium can be very disturbing as well. “Social media was designed to give you a dopamine kick everytime you go on. I am very well aware of how social media works. I am aware of the algorithms as well as the intelligent people who made this medium to give everybody a piece of fame and everything that comes with it. Social media is a mood-lifter and a mood killer. I know a hundred people who have a followersin million but still get less than 20 k likes which is equivalent to clinical depression for them. I know people who are absolutely nobody but the fact that they receive 200 likes gives them a sense of achievement which can be annoying and irritating at times. Social media is not very good unless you are using it for the right reasons. I use it to connect with my fans and promote my work and as a promotional tool rather than a tool to play with my mood. It’s a branding and business instrument,” he says.

The world of social media is unreal and in dire need of validation from others, says the actor, adding, “Validation is the key to one’s survival. If you ever find yourself in the niches once you have billions of dollars, what matters isbeing exclusive and the most famous person in the room. I think that when people say social media is fake— yes it is. No one’s life is all happy giggles and bubbles. Technically, it’s not real life if a hotel has called you to come and show their place around. You are doing a sales job. If you have a realistic life and have organic followers for the organic things you do, I respect that. It’s a double standard where people criticise it and at the same time run after it. If your work is related to it then you should go all out in it because in today’s world, they ask you about your followers,” he says

In fact, casting for shows and films is also done on the basis of your social media performance, says the actor. “It is the most common and irritating question. The entire casting has moved on to followers. If I reach 2M followers tomorrow then the kind of people approaching me and the kind of work I would be doing will be at a different level but my question to those people is what if everything can be brought— people can spend lakhs of rupees and buy followers. Social

Media is the most easily manipulated thing in this world which a lot of people don’t understand. I have spent more than 20 thousand hours working and trying to build a brand and it’s embarrassing when somebody ends up bagging the biggest job in the world because they are famous,” he says.

He adds, “I believe that industry and agencies need to take a deep dive in the kind of work and things we are doing. If this is the way that the business is going to run then we might as well jump into it and manipulate it. Now life has become like open windows and the bigger the window, the more the fans. That can also be bad for you as you lose a lot of stardom, the flavour and the exclusivity. It’s a hypocritical statement to say that I am a private person and to open up your entire life on social media.  I can say that I am a private person but I am well aware of the fact that my life is not my own anymore and things that I do is now in the public eye and since I am in the public eye, I am jumping in the bandwagon and I am going to be using social media handles a lot more than I normally do.”