Commentaries | Dec 19,2018
May 13 , 2023
By Eden Sahle
I visited my friend's cousin, who severely broke her legs and hip last week. She had fallen off a tree while taking a picture for her Instagram profile.
She is a fun-loving person in her early 40s. It was sad to see her bedridden and in great pain.
The woman has previously sustained several minor and debilitating injuries while attempting to take distinctive pictures that can draw the attention of her over 50,000 followers.
The ordeal paid off with thousands of reactions from her fans; she claims to have worked so hard for over a decade to garner the attention.
Witnessing what some go through for their virtual appearance is staggering. People in their prime age seem more concerned about the next post than their education, careers and life objectives.
Creating picture—perfect moments to impress virtual followers has become paramount to genuinely interacting with those around us. I often wait 15 minutes before eating while dining with my peers until it is captured for Instagram and Snapchat.
The unrealistic has become the new reality. People have moved on from real-life interaction to experiencing collective virtual anxiety.
Most social media activities are edited and exaggerated to fabricate reality. Society is in the grips of moral panic as many speak against its potential to corrupt individuals and ruin families.
Teenagers are suffering from insecurity, starving themselves to achieve the body shape they see online. They are falling into depression, trying to imitate celebrities without realising what appears online does not reflect reality. Siblings no longer talk to each other because of constant interruptions from online platforms.
Social media has been identified as the cause of multiple social ills. It is an open place for radical political beliefs and social punching bags. Considering many discourses, it is assumed to have caused trouble.
But research on its effect on people and its influence on politics, self-esteem and contentment revealed that people misused and confused the purpose. The researchers believe anxiety and depression drive people to use social media inappropriately.
These social media activities have become part of the public and accurately reflect society. As the biographer Robert Caro once said, “Power doesn’t always corrupt, but power always reveals.”
Perhaps the same is true of social media and our human history. Social media did not corrupt individual and societal values; it merely revealed our identity.
It has become the new platform to seek attention with urbanites going out of their way to come out on top. Some feel obliged to share the shots of their daily food, drink, places they visit and people they hang out with.
Studies have found that posting status updates on Facebook reduces the feeling of loneliness, while activities on Twitter potentially make people content.
Social media connects people around the world. It brings companies closer to customers. The benefit has been inured and taken for granted.
It assists individuals and communities who require financial support to be connected with people who have a heart for charity and supporting others. It has increased companies' visibility to their target audience while people update their vital life events to their connections.
The simple function of social media allowed my housekeeper, who never attended school, to understand what I explained quickly. She now interacts with friends virtually using voice messages.
She is excited to use Facebook to video call her mother in the rural area of Jimma. For her, social media is where she follows her loving mother’s well-being while connecting with people in her hometown.
Today most of us are on some social media platforms to build professional connections and social networks. Globally it has become the most popular form of communication. Research estimates that there are over three billion social media users worldwide. It is hard to underestimate the value it brought to billions of people.
Social networking provides a powerful toolkit for highlighting and acting on issues we value. It can be a great platform to reach a broader audience to develop social norms and skills.
Managing an online presence is important in our social engagements and as company representatives. Most employers believe in checking new candidates’ social media platforms to observe what kind of people they are.
PUBLISHED ON May 13,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1202]
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