Editor's note: Tobi Owolabi, the NAIJ.com partner blogger, in this piece explains how social media have hijacked people's minds and what should be done to live beyond the illusion of technology.
Tobi Owolabi, is a Lagos-based blogger, a political observer, a consultant and Director of ThriveKonsult
He could be reached through his e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow his blog thrivingwords.blogspot.com
More details in NAIJ.com’s step-by-step guide for guest bloggers.
No gainsaying with the fact that we've moved from the stone, iron and bronze ages to the jet, digital or modern age. One of the central cores of the present age is the social media. It's a few people who will be reading this article directly from this news site while a large number would find it on social media most likely Facebook and Twitter and less likely Instagram through the link.
ICT has turned the world to a global village with the chief tool to achieve this being the social media. You can now access life transforming messages through social media platforms, there's no distance barrier again in relationships, with just a click you can access the current news and world trend amidst a few to mention.
Messages of hope have reached millions through this platform and I can't imagine having thousands of readers at this stage without this platform, so, a big heartfelt thank you to every engineer who has pioneered the creation of one or two of these platforms.
Social media is often referred to as the worst and best thing to have ever been created for mankind. Social media is a platform where billions think they're connecting with the world but are disconnecting with the reality and connecting with only illusions. As much as it has brought the world together it has done damages I only hope mankind can recover from.
Social media can also be viewed as a ‘panopticon’, a type of prison in which you never know who is watching. You may not know what a ‘panopticon’ is like so I'll explain. It's a type of goal that was proposed by philosopher Jeremy Bentham in which a single guard tower stood in the center of a prison in which guards in the tower can visually set every inmate in their cells causing the inmates to have a feeling of paranoia because they can't tell who's looking.
Isn't social media like this? I can update my status on Facebook and in seconds I get notifications of likes and comments but don't be deceived that's not the number of people that has viewed the updates. With one click, marriages have been shattered and visions destroyed. People posts personal things and with everyday no one seems to have a private life again.
Isn't social media a world of illusions? Isn't it a world where all that glitters isn't real?
The world is full of illusions. Magicians use myriads of things to trick people into believing the unbelievable and with this capture their attention. Today, a large percentage of people engaging in social media also perform this kind of magic. Well, life is also full of illusions but social media has really amplified this.
Many put in their profiles who they're not, there are tools we have to update our status, share pictures and perform magic that can make who we would like to be in the real sense. With everyday, social media is moving us from the real world into the magic world and I'm beginning to ask if we would get out of this new world.
It's easy to get the impression that friends are more famous, powerful and knowledge than they really are these days. It's also easy to form the impression of the nice guy or lady than we're in the real life. I bet you, you had fallen a victim of this and I'm not excluded. With all the tools, people can look more beautiful or handsome than they're, locations can be changed, and voices can be made more sonorous amidst others. Truly, with social media all that glitters is not real.
As I'm penning this down, I'm imagining how I was pleading with my friends on our way back from school this sunny afternoon few years back. I was still in secondary school then and Facebook was beginning to spread across the country.
I pleaded wholeheartedly with my friends to help me get a Facebook account has almost all of them already have one and not having one would mean I'm not current, not on the same page like they are. You could be laughing or smiling or you can look back at what also brought you to the social media you're on presently.
At a point, having a BBM pin sums up to a great self-esteem and popularity and large thousands of people did the unbelievable to get a Blackberry phone then. Isn't an illusion? When did number of likes and followers sum up to the level of self-esteem? Isn't an illusion? When did commenting on someone's picture replace love for them?
Millions go to the extreme ends with social media today. Why? Because with social media racking up likes, comments, and follows has become a way to measuring someone's worth. With an article writer like me, it turns out to be that the number of comments and likes equals the worth of the article and with this illusion many have abandoned writing because they didn't get the number of likes and comments they hoped for.
Isn't an illusion? People get to delete their pictures on Instagram if it doesn't rack up the number of likes they had hoped for and to cap it off, if their crush or best friend didn't leave a comment or like the picture it seems like their self-esteem has been shattered.
Isn't an illusion? People go for events and forget the purpose and start taking pictures they upload to social media at the end of the day to show the whole world they were out that day. And with everyday, we disconnect with people near us while fighting to connect with people far from us. And next time you are posting something - ask the critical question - do I just want a reaction or something else?
Don't snap me yet that background isn't good enough! You would have often heard people when taking pictures. If they couldn't get their prefect background they then switch to the magic of perfection social media offers.
The search for perfection embodies our social media and in that hunt we're deviating everyday from who we are to who we wish to be with a less appreciative manner in the society. Isn't an illusion? Social media grants us the freedom, we can look anyhow with people not knowing the truth but deep down we all know it's not true.
My question will be - when last did you enjoy real life without posting the evidence? Why not show up in real life than show off in the illusive world? Why not stay in the moment than fake one?
In the 1890s, physiologist Ivan Pavlov discovered that when he rang a bell to signal meal time to dogs, they would begin to salivate whether he brought food or not. Many researches have been done in recent years to confirm his findings.
Brain researchers have found that people have more brain activity anticipating a reward than receiving one. With this, whenever the ping of your phone rings it sets off a dopamine loop in your brain. Dopamine isn't simply a pleasure chemical but a wanting chemical. With this, people send all kinds of pictures and messages hoping for responses. Isn't an illusion?
That people think they're holding a person when holding a phone simply because they're messaging. It's very difficult to judge people's character online because they only reveal what they choose to show.
A guy may seem cool and kind but remember he has a whole lot of time to take cues from you and send his replies. Social media is another world of intimacy illusion. Many are they who have thousands of likes, follows and friends on the social media but still end up being lonely! Isn't this an illusion?
With its illusive nature, social media is good servant but a bad master. How do you get free? Probably you think I've a therapy or lists of steps for you, I don't have but I'll leave you with this:
“The battle against insecurity in the digital world is not found in the right rules; it is found in the security of Christ. Abiding with Christ is essential to thriving online. Our union with Christ, by faith and through the Holy Spirit, feeds us with the life and vibrancy we need to succeed even inside the digital worlds that can so easily feed our personal insecurities.”
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of NAIJ.com.
NAIJ.com welcomes writers, bloggers, photographers and all sorts of “noise makers” to become a part of our Bloggers network. If you are a seasoned writer or a complete newbie – apply and become Nigeria’s next star blogger.
Send us some info about your career, interests and expertise and why you’d like to contribute to the Blogger Network at email@example.com Also, please send us the link to your blog and three examples of your work.
More details in NAIJ.com’s step-by-step guide for guest bloggers.