The advent of social platforms on the internet is undoubtedly one of the 21st century’s major technological breakthroughs. It’s incredible how these networks connect people all over the world. We can see our friends and loved ones who are miles away via video calls. We can conduct business transactions without even having face-to-face meetings.
As a matter of fact, social media has been used as a valuable tool for engaging in governance and citizenship, and indeed significant revolutions against oppressive administrations in recent times (e.g. the Arab Spring that spanned through 2010 to 2012). All these benefits were not available to us some 30 years ago, at least, not mainstream. The efficacy of social media can therefore not be denied.
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I love social media and all that it is doing to help us stay connected. There is, however, a side to it I wish to address in this article; a dark side. These platforms are morally neutral and then depending on how you use them, you get good or bad results. As I have stated earlier, social media platforms were initially created to connect people, share ideas and spark interesting and stimulating conversations we would have otherwise been silent about. But as the saying goes ‘when the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable.’ If more and more people are left feeling dissatisfied, ill at ease and just generally unhappy about their lives after spending few minutes on social media, then something is not quite right.
It’s only supposed to be pure fun, but when it becomes a market place for selling discontentment, unhealthy comparisons, envy, body image issues, feelings of worthlessness and failure, then Houston, we have problem!!! There is a lot of pressure to fit in on there. These days, people let what they see on social media dictate to them how to live their lives. Some are now even living beyond their means to impress people that do not even know them. Keeping up with the Joneses on social media is the most ridiculous thing, and here’s why.
Every one of us presents the best version of ourselves to the world so that Person A after viewing Person B’s posts goes away, feeling that they need to do more to attain Person B’s level. Of course there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve our lives or update our skills but the driving force behind this desire should be to become better people, not compete with people who aren’t even taking any notice! Some of the desperate things people have done for the sake of social media are posing in cars that do not belong to them, parading as landlords to properties that don’t belong to them (hello Instagram), the list is endless.
We need to teach our children that there is a whole world of difference between what happens in the virtual world and what happens in the real world. These days, there is no telling where one ends and where the other begins. The two have become so intertwined, leaving everyone somewhat confused, especially the younger generation who are still very impressionable. With the amount of time we spend on these social media sites; one wonders what time we have left to attend to other aspects of our lives, our real lives. What time do we have to tend to our souls and spirits, do our real jobs, tidy our rooms, and spend time with those we claim we love or simply pay attention to the present?
There is also the false sense of success people allow social media to give to them. I have 5,000 followers, so I must be a hit right? (this does not apply to public figures), or I got 3,000 likes on the photo I posted an hour ago so I must be loved, right? Wrong! Social media success does not always equal real-life success and the people who honestly, genuinely care about you are people you share your life with in real life. We gain all this popularity on social media and still wonder why we feel lonely and empty.
We all run the risk of getting caught in this web of discontent, greed, envy, and vanity if we don’t unplug from time to time. I actually think it’s healthy to fast from social media occasionally (if it’s not something we need for our real-life jobs, that is).
I want to close with this word of appeal to social media influencers;could you kindly do us a favor and post things that genuinely inspire and not things that incite us or feed our greed? To whom much is given, much is expected.
How has social media affected you? Do share your experiences in the comments section below, and remember to like, share and subscribe, never to miss an update.
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About The Author: Jacqueline is a lawyer as well as a PR professional. She is also mom, to two energetic soldiers who constantly keep her on her toes, until they fall asleep. In her spare time, she loves to sing and is also an aspiring writer. Connect with her on Instagram with @zeerrific1.