PING!: Exploring the lives of adolescents in the age of social media | Sunday Observer

PING!: Exploring the lives of adolescents in the age of social media

7 May, 2023

The Stages Theatre Group’s latest production, PING!, directed by Ruwanthie de Chickera and Lihan Mendis, is indeed a bold exploration of the lives of adolescents in the age of social media. PING! Tells the story of four families residing in a middle-income apartment complex in Colombo.

The play focuses on the lives of their teenage children, specifically Dirk Anthonisz, a brooding 17-year-old with a mysterious reputation and a devastating secret. When his secret is leaked, chaos ensues in both the physical and virtual worlds, exposing how social media provides an escape for both adults and children in times of crisis.

The play touches on many contemporary issues facing young Sri Lankans, including digital dependence, deteriorating mental health, changing family dynamics, and the growing disconnect between generations. The production is hard-hitting, emotionally impactful, relevant, and reflective, as it reflects the observations, experiences, and concerns of the teenage cast.

The bizarre effects of social media

One of the main themes of PING! is the tragedy of depending on the internet to find answers to every issue in life. The play highlights how the ease of access to information has led to a culture of instant gratification, which can have negative consequences.

The play also addresses the issue of social media and how it can create a sense of anxiety and pressure, leading to mental health issues.

The play further delves into the negative effects of social media, such as too much attention being given to the slightest things in life, creating unrealistic expectations, and leading to a culture of comparison. The boom of social media has made information and services easily accessible, but it has also contributed to growing levels of anxiety and mental health issues among young people as well as adults.

The play shows how social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter have become a breeding ground for perfectionism, where people curate their lives to create the perfect image of themselves. This constant pressure to be perfect and portray a certain image on social media has led to growing levels of anxiety and mental health issues, particularly among young people who are still trying to figure out their identity and place in the world.

Moreover, social media has created an environment where people are always seeking attention and validation. The play highlights how this constant need for attention and validation has led to the creation of unrealistic expectations, where people feel that they must constantly strive to achieve something that is unattainable. The constant comparison with others, combined with the pressure to seek attention and validation, has led to a rise in anxiety and depression.

PING! is a play that deeply explores the negative impact of social media on the mental health of young people. It provides a thought-provoking commentary on this issue, highlighting the need for society to be more aware of the impact social media is having on young people’s lives.

The play urges people to engage in open and honest conversations about the role of social media in their lives, and to collectively work towards finding ways to mitigate its negative effects. Through its powerful message, PING! creates a platform for dialogue and reflection, inviting audiences to reconsider their relationship with social media and its impact on their well-being.


The play also raises the question of “Why teenagers are so sad?” (#WTASS) in the time of social media. It highlights the fact that despite the easy access to information and communication, teenagers are still facing challenges such as family breakdowns, disarray in the education system, and continuous disruption.

The play and the accompanying #WATSS campaign, run by the young artists themselves, draw attention to the challenges young people in Sri Lanka are being subjected to. They hope to create a space for youth and adults to talk about the impact of social media and digital dependence on families within the wider context of the current societal breakdown.

Overall, PING! is a well-crafted and thought-provoking production that highlights the importance of having conversations about the impact of social media on young people’s lives. It provides a much-needed space for reflection on contemporary youth issues, encouraging audiences to think deeply about the world in which we live and the challenges we face.

The Stages Youth Ensemble has done an excellent job in creating a production that is both entertaining and meaningful, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in exploring the complexities of the digital age.

PING! cast:

Nikhita Abeywickrema
Sasindu Randi
Theruni Indrapala
Akmal Hamid
Ganan Kugan
Visura Padeniya
Nethra Peiris
Anouk Abeywikrema
Samuel Sundaralingam
Shenaya Fernando
Vishwa Wijesooriya
Akhil Skanthakumar
Kithmi Ranathunga
Hajarah Faleel
Ayana Anthinisz
Johann Anthonisz
Haizlyn Anthonisz
Rehan Dias
Shehan Dias
Kaya Yoganathan
Rasiah Yoganathan
Yasho Yoganathan
Dirk Anthonisz
Shakeel Saleem
Jah Saleem
Noorah Saleem

Pic: Venuki Senandi