By Ezinwanne Onwuka
Social media has become the new trend. It has evolved to be a planet of its own. A planet that affords us the opportunity to connect with friends, contemporaries, colleagues, family and strangers.
Social media has reshaped our lives and values for the better on one hand and on the other, for the worst. Positively, it helps us build connections with people and exposes us to a vast amount of information. This is an information age. Negatively, due to abuse, it has become a mask used for deception.
Most people spend about 20 – 22hrs a day on social media tweeting, retweeting, commenting on posts, sharing, liking and reacting on posts, and chatting. To imagine a life without social media would be considered an impossibility. Its grip on people’s lives waxes stronger by the day.
Unfortunately, the rising influence of social media has regrettably pushed people to live on the web, hiding behind the screens. Eating out for a photo, traveling for a photo, squandering money for a photo etc. – what I prefer to call a photoscopic society!
Most people can no longer hold a conversation outside social media. Conversation for them now revolves around chatting, tweeting and retweeting, commenting on other people’s posts, liking and reacting on posts. They no longer have a life outside social media. Whatever they do is to impress their social media audience for ‘likes’. People like this have allowed social media to take over their lives, thereby becoming the definition of who they are as a person.
Social media has turned to be an outlet people use to paint a false picture of the life they want others to think they have. It is like a famous Nigerian artiste, Rudeboy sang “poor man no dey for instagram” which literally translates to there is no poor person on social media. Everyone snaps picture in exotic cars, wearing sumptuous clothes and in mansions which depicts a life devoid of worries. In the midst of these, I cannot help but wonder and ask, ‘Is the person we see on the screen the same person he/she is behind the screen?’
The point I am trying to drive home is not far-fetched: most people use social media to showcase an unrealistic and deceiving scenario. Social media resurrected another aspect of our personality: the image of ourselves we like to portray and project to others. What this means is that it is likely that what you see on screen might not be the same person behind the screen. People hide behind filters and presets to come up with the best quality and versions of themselves which turn out, oftentimes, to be far from the truth. This is a no-brainer: on social media, people portray themselves in a way that they aren’t genuinely portrayed in real life. They deceive the audience into thinking that they are “living the life” and we begin to work either towards becoming like them or beating them.
Most social media users try to make their lifestyle the goal for others. They have normalized certain things — wasting money and food, giving in to unsustainable consumption, and mindlessly encouraging status and ego gratification. Social media trains us to compare our lives instead of appreciating everything we are. Little wonder why everyone now sees life as a competition and the rate of depression is skyrocketing.
Social media was created to serve us and not the other way round. It is not a stage where the highest performer wins a price. It is high time we stopped using social media as a mask, hiding behind the emojis and start living realistically.