The ‘perfect’ world of social media

2019-01-16 11:03
Young women take a selfie for social media

Young women take a selfie for social media

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LIVES on social media are just so perfect – from what people wear, what they eat, where they hang out, and who they are seen with. It is so easy to create a neatly profiled and dreamy life, to the envy of others who don’t know that it might not even be real. But how much of the opinions and the meanness on social media are actually a reflection of who people really are? Move! speaks to experts who share insight on the advent of social media and why it has managed to take over the lives of people like it has.

THE RISE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

“Social media is causing considerable changes in culture and society, hence it requires influencers personified by honesty, sincerity and integrity. Negative influencers, such as the fake-news spreaders, can damage societies almost irreparably,” says academic and social media security expert, Dr Zoran Mitrovic. He adds that an increased affordability of smartphones has contributed to the increased use of social media in South Africa. Mobile messengers such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have evidently gained popularity. “It seems that Twitter is still a social media platform that is most popular for public dialogues. Facebook is also gaining popularity after the introduction of Facebook Lite,” says Dr Zoran. Instagram is attaining popularity among younger users, many professionals are happily joining the LinkedIn platform, and YouTube is becoming more popular within the business  world.

DOUBLED-EDGED SWORD

Dr Zoran says social media is a double-edged sword that can either have a positive or negative effect in someone's life. “We have witnessed that social media is also used for cyberbullying or deceiving people in order to get financial gains. ‘Love scams’ on dating social media sites are also on the rise," says Dr Zoran. He advises users to familiarise themselves with privacy policies on social media and get into the habit of not sharing sensitive information with strangers on these platforms. There is also pressure that comes with trying to live up to the norm created on social media of living a fun, expensive and problem-free life. Life coach, Thembi Hama, says, “South Africa has a huge gap between the rich and the poor, and this stark contrast between the haves and the have-nots is portrayed on various social media platforms.” She says this can be a cause of depression, particularly when you are struggling financially and you see others flaunting their wealth, career achievements and success in life. There is also the danger of losing yourself in the hype of social media, where you end up not following your heart and pursuing your unique purpose.

LIVING AUTHENTICALLY

There is nothing wrong with sharing pictures of moments in your life or your opinion on social media. However, Thembi advises that social media should be used sparingly and selectively. “Most importantly, know yourself. When you have yourself as the centre of everything you do, you won’t lose yourself in the hype,” she says.   

 

 

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