by Gilbert Alasa
I have a terrible news to share.
Having spent the last eight years of my life navigating the adrenaline-popping, hyper-connected world of social media, I have come to the sorry conclusion that social media is not for me. And definitely not for you, either.
Agreed not to crucify me just yet? Good.
Two years ago, my friend, whom I would prefer to address as Iyasere, woke up from a certain side of the bed, counted one to ten and deleted his Facebook account!
Just like that!
He did not stop there. He took his frustration (or let’s just call it inspiration) a few notches higher and took down his Instagram account. He was magnanimous enough to spare his Twitter account. You can almost guess my reaction.
Why would a young man in this time and age decide to ostracize himself from the exciting social media space? Why on earth would someone willfully alienate himself from the epic clap-backs on Twitter, the outlandish fakery of slay queens on Instagram and, according to the book of Iyasere, the remarkable imbecility of many Facebook users?
This was a rash decision to take, at least, for someone whose entire job depended on social feeds, internet trolls, celebrity gaffes, Linda Ikeji’s (fake?) Hermes Birkins bag, Beyoncé’s baby bumps, and all the millennial niceties that my grandma still considers as plain silliness.
But only recently, I had cause to give Iyasere’s “stupid” idea a thought. Despite the obvious dichotomy in our reasons for taking this path, what we could not deny is the fact that social media places all of us on that perpetual cliff – sometimes like some dunes tumbling down a foothill or, at other times, a rocket thrust into the far heavens. I would explain.
Over the years, social media transformed itself into a living bible, a compass of sort that shapes our entire value system, dictate the standards for success and failure, decide which social standpoint is considered chic or out of point – most times, by virtue of the likes garnered by a post.
This alternative reality has steadily blurred our own social compass, and reduced us to dumping ground for borrowed ideologies. So, rather than inspire healthy debates, our conversations only social snobbery and reveal the human capacity to be crude, intolerant and mean, especially when handling opposing viewpoints.
Which brings us to the story of the reveler who forgot the purpose of the fest. So Mr. Reveler merely shows up at the party, gobbles a few drinks, dances his soul away and basks in the vanity of that festive ambience. And while others network and build friendships, he gulps some more and dances some more without making any interaction. When it is time to leave, he disappears from the scene like a strand of smoke. Nobody remembers his name, the smell of his skin, the aura of his soul.
But the tragedy of that misplaced priority is even mild compared to the rising victims of identity crisis on today’s social space. Their identity is often jumbled like a twisted narrative; they jump on every conversation and pretend to be everybody else except themselves until they become like a rainbow cake. They have no ideal of their own except those foisted on them by society – in this case, their supposed influencers. They lack the slightest capacity to evaluate these standpoints apple to apple – whether they are noble or fitting enough for their own individuality.
These folks, who incidentally form the bulk of social consumers, are also the victims of crass envy or lifetime members of the “hating” gang. Social media has made them no less of a rollercoaster of sort, easily tossed about by the endless stream of social feeds. A friend’s supposed success story on Facebook or Instagram, whether real or concocted, easily plunges them into despair and offers them more excuses to rue their own fate.
But here is my take, and this position is not entirely new. Social media is not meant for us to swap our original ideals in exchange for what is glorified by the gods and principalities of pop culture. Social media is certainly not the best parameter to measure our progress or beauty or brilliance. It is not a platform to flow with the tides of popular ideologies which, in reality, contradict our deepest, authentic essence.
But if we are deliberate about our engagement on these platforms, and are genuine enough to be true to the pulse of our souls, we will find the courage to listen more, tolerate others more, celebrate our own triumphs, and ultimately build a community that allows everyone find the big miracle of our universe.
Until social media becomes less of our edited lives and more of our authentic identity, we will need some courage to accept the fact that social media is not for us.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Gilbert, a Marketing Communications & PR specialist, writes from Lagos
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