Social Media - The Good & The Bad

by Ines Makuza | Jan 4, 2017

We are continuously challenged to discover new works of culture—and, in the process, we don’t allow any one of them to assume a weight in our minds. ― Alain de Botton

This isn’t a topic that hasn’t been broached before; I simply brought it up for the sake of discussion and to garner attention to the paradox that is the good and bad of social media.

What’s wrong with social media? A lot of things.

Social media was probably the greatest creation a couple years back and sort of still is, to this day. We managed to catch up to old friends and classmates, find new locations to visit, share our thoughts and opinions, advertise for products or companies etc. Every day, new applications are introduced or modified, giving us new ways of sharing bits and pieces of our lives to everyone. Snapchat enables me to keep up with friends and acquaintances. Instagram and Tumblr feed my love for aesthetics, and often times the love for humorous images. Twitter lets me follow conversations of things I don’t easily understand, and shares news of events that popular news channel wouldn’t talk about. Facebook lets me keep up with old friends and so on.

I’m happy to witness people create businesses and keep growing with the world virtually watching and supporting, inspiring the rest of us. I learn more about social issues, politics, and my own country by following intellectual conversations online that I’ll bring back home in reality for further discussions.

Without social media I wouldn’t know what trend was what. I wouldn’t know what happened in a specific country. I wouldn’t be informed of the growth of my country and appreciate its aesthetic or find new ways to expand my writing and conversational skills.

But in all honesty, we’re prisoners to social media.

Deep down everyone knows this, and very few will do something about it. By prisoners, I mean in the sense that it consumes our time. First thing most people do when they wake up is look at their phone for notifications. We’d rather talk to friends behind phones, than actually try to meet them face to face even when we have the time. People make statements that can either be honestly seen as lewd, demeaning, or stereotypically racist or sexist, often with the intention to be humorous and gain retweets, likes, shares and follows. While there’s been a burst in appreciation and support for one another virtually, it’s hard to go a day without gaining self-esteem issues because someone does something or looks better than you online. We may claim to not care about something like this but some of us would be lying.

Racial tension rose with the recent US Presidential election, sparking online bullying, and videos of minorities facing racial mistreatment. Women become victims of shaming and other sexist comments. Relationships have been damaged when the public eye is privy to something as personal, created trust issues and led to a term to solidify the problem: fuckboy (or a common one for females: slut/ hoe). Whatever we share online stays there forever. Security lessens for all of us with the growing power of technology and the growth of hackers and the potential stalkers. It’s easy to damage your reputation, educational and work career with whatever you post. We all try or succeed to make statements or share images following a cliché online behavior that can spark stupid arguments or cause other problems. Some of us can never spend more than 5 minutes without checking for notifications, or what others are up to. I’m saying all this knowing in an hour I’ll be mindlessly scrolling through my timeline trying to find something to share with others, something to gossip or discuss instead of helping myself to a book I’ve not touched for 2 months, a helpful article, trying out one of my hobbies or going for a walk.

The irony, am I right?

That’s the way society has made us.

I’d like to remind anyone who’s reading this to never forget to take a break from it all. Be it a week, or a month, you’ll come back rejuvenated more than before. Delete that app you can’t stop opening. Take a moment to appreciate a sight without sharing a photo of it; you could practice your writing skill by talking about it online another time. Or, if you’re feeling brave, delete all your accounts and start again.

I hope this sparked a thought or understanding in you.

Ines Makuza
Ines is majoring in mass communication. She's a great singer, loves dancing, reading, writing and spending time with her friends.