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Is Social Media a blessing in disguise?

24 July 2017 at 04:27 | 2990 views


By Dr. Nanah Sheriff Fofanah-Sesay, USA

.I don’t know about others but social media has on many occasions engaged me in useful debates, allowed me to catch up with friends, families, and their statuses, through photos, audios, videos, and vice versa.

On the other hand, social media usage has also contributed in the derailment of some important ventures that could have positively impacted my life.

The purpose of this concise and informative article is to explore the pros and cons of social media usage through the lens of a habitual user.

To get things in perspective, let me start by defining social media.

According to Merriam-Webster social media are forms of electronic communication such as websites, for social networking and micro-blogging through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content such as videos.

Social media has become the biggest shift in our culture since the industrial revolution. Unlike my use of a telegram to urgently communicate with my parents in Africa in the mid-eighties, social media has made it possible to reach out to others in remote places around the world in such an effective and efficient manner.

In addition, social media has made it possible to communicate knowledge to the less educated through its blackboard capabilities. Most will agree with me that the acquisition of knowledge through others’ postings in Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Instagram, Tango, Wechat, LinkedIn, Skype, QZone etc. Social media has re-branded the world, rendering it a small village where humans interact and readily share information.

Since the advent of social media, marketing for businesses of all sizes has proliferated. Likewise, people are able to showcase their knowledge and skills to attract potential employees and employers. Moreover, social media provides immediate access to other sources of information such as accidents and environmental disasters.

The use of selfies is another mechanism utilized to facilitate the authentic identification of most sources of information. It is also worth noting that social media is so effective that today’s elementary and middle school children will be stunned to know that phones were only used for conversations a few years ago and will be dumfounded to hear that mobile phones were not in existence 13-20 years ago.

On a personal note related to the use of social media, I recently took a short vacation to Bermuda via Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (Grandeur of the Seas) to celebrate my son’s graduation from high school. Social media enabled me to share experiences of this vacation to most of my Whatsapp groups. This enabled group members to be part of this celebration through viewing live experiences of events in and out of the ship. It’s amazing, isn’t it?

It will be unfair however, to exclude the downside of social media as most users are utilizing this tool for its unintended purposes. The ability of social media to create a small village for the purpose of gainful interaction has also made it vulnerable for disdainful propaganda. I have seen and heard postings in social media that have the capability of breaking spirits beyond repair.

According to Meyer (2017), social media can negatively affect our mental health in the sense that it create insecurity through others’ flawless postings of engagement announcements, wedding announcements, job promotion, and baby arrival thereby acting a constant reminder of “ what is not going on” in others’ lives.

Social media has also been documented to decrease productivity through distraction. Moreover, the use of social media has been documented to be addictive. It use also promotes social anxiety in the sense that real human interaction can become scary for some..Cyber-bullying is a serious factor affecting the use of social media due to the fact that bullies are allowed to hide behind their computers or phones and detached from the impact of their words on their victims. Moreover, social media allows for a deferment or void between one’s actions and consequences.

Experts however, have concluded that what happens on the Internet can have very real consequences, it is therefore recommended that users power down or limit their social media usage. This can be achieved by limiting the number of time or minutes you will allow yourself to log in or simply take a social media break by disabling all your profiles for a period of time.

The benefits of social media are undeniable however, its unintended use has created the social discord it intends to alleviate. With minimal use of common sense, respect for others differences, and the right of privacy, social media will once again assume its intended purpose.

This article is dedicated to all my fellow social media users.