May 12, 2020 at 9:48 am #2591Huong NguyenKeymaster
Abdou Rahim Lema Mohamed _ Benin
A. INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON YOUTH
Negative Personal Effects of Social Media on Youth
Despite its relevant role in connecting people who live far away from each other, it is not uncommon that social media become social and, especially, healthy issues for many people, including the youth. I’m personally not very active on social media platforms beyond WhatsApp and Wechat. And while the former helps me keep in touch with family and friends back in Benin and elsewhere outside China, the latter allows me to be in touch with friends and professors mostly in China. Though I do have accounts for other social media platforms, including Facebook, Tweeter, LinkedIn, as well as a personal blog, I generally spend weeks (especially in the case of Facebook) without really checking them just once. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I check my Tweeter account, nor can I remember my login details that account; in that regard, it is non-existent, though it is also existent! But I’m more frequent on LinkedIn and on my personal blog, because these are my professional platforms, and because I need to constantly maintain them, especially my blog with new entries (at least once a month)—which I also often share on LinkedIn. For me, this makes the two platforms somehow interconnected.
Unfortunately, not very youth is able to keep away from frequent or even unlimited use of social media platforms. As a results, many constantly have negative experiences online. But in Benin, the major negative impact of social media is not generally associated with depression. Rather, obsession with social media generally leads to waste of time, failure to meet assignments, and failures to meet one’s personal potentials in life. As a result, there is a growing campaign on how best use the Internet connection, especially as tool of learn, instead of wasting time going through people’s various profiles on various social media platforms.
But is as bad as drinking or using drugs?
Sometimes it can certainly be. And there are at least two ways in which this could be the case. The first parallel between excessive use of social media and drinking or drug addiction, is a significant amount of money go in their use—the Internet connection fees in the case of social media, and drinks and drugs bills for the other two. They also have a similarity in making people waste valuable time, lose discipline in their lives, and becoming unproductive and even anti-social in some extreme cases.
Social media reduces job and academic performance?
Absolutely! Excessive use of social media, as we have just seen, makes people lose valuable time doing worthless stuffs and spend their productive energy unproductively. Moreover, addiction to social media leads to constant distraction and lack of focus on the tasks at hand. Yet time management and the ability to focus are perhaps the most valuable assets for great performance both at work and at school.
Social media in Benin’s political life
It did not use to be a ‘thing’ some few years ago. But today it has increasingly begun to play a major role, both good and bad. Facebook and WhatsApp are on the driver’s seat in this regard. Here is how it works: a political message (a speech, a poster, etc.) is released. It is then shared instantly and constantly by thousands in a matter of minutes or hours. People have access to that ‘information’. They start talking about it. It becomes a national ‘issue’ that needs addressing. But it becomes a problem when or if the ‘information’ happen to be not true, to be fake. Filters and screeners are nearly non-existent in this context.
In terms of censorship, like in almost every country on earth today, it is a major issue in Benin when the government or other powerful actor often try to control the flow of information and the shape and as well as the contents of narratives. This is against its democratic constitution. But there is always the issue of drawing the line between what is permissible and what is not to prevent to free flow of false information.
Influencers, Social Media, and Youths Education
As I said earlier, the role of social media has evolved over time to become more complex, yet with far-reaching consequences. Though social media still plays its original purpose, a way for people to connect with family and friends from faraway places, its role has broadened. In fact, it has become a business on its own right. Companies and businesses use it promote and sale their products or services, often through influencers. These influencers usually have very large social media followings, which allows them to have greater outreach as they connect people in and from multiple places with the same message.
This is especially of particular important for the youths who generally tend to view those influencers as role models to be emulated. This makes is crucial to be able to draw a line between good influencing and bad influencing. Some people use their many social media followings to champion and advocate for important issues such as climate change, poverty alleviation, fighting inequality, and defending justice, etc. In the case of fighting climate change and safeguarding our planet through social media platforms, Greta Thunberg is perhaps the best example. It is a case is should be deemed good influencing, and that makes her a good influencer for environmental protection.
As Greta’s (among many others’) example shows, social media could be (and often is) a great force for good. But for that to happen, one needs to have a clear purpose and undaunted dedication for the greater goods. Where it is used for such a purpose, narcissism and “look at me” syndrome have a place, for the pursued purpose is just far greater than their combination! To prevent oneself from being hooked into social media obsession, it is advised to limit its usage to two hours a day. And this should be possible for everyone to follow, if only the benefits are priceless while a failure to do so could be ruinous at best, and fatal at worse.
B. PERSONAL BRANDING AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Since opening a social media account involves creating a profile, social media platforms are important places for Personal Branding. This is exactly why I have limited myself to LinkedIn and my personal blog. For me, these great places that allow me to grow personal and professional. They constitute a great investment of both my time and my attention. They are also a crucial inventories for my personal branding. As an aspiring writer, my blog gives me the space to practice and challenge myself. While my LinkedIn account allows me to share my thoughts and written pieces whereby I get feedback, comments, criticisms, and suggestions—all of which have been contributing to my personal and professional growth.
I always keep my profiles on social media as realistically as possible. After all, personal branding should not and must not entail creating a double persona. We first and foremost deceive ourselves in trying to be someone we are not and perhaps cannot be on social media platforms profiles. Indeed, that is not personal branding. It is personal deception and a confirmed personal failure.
Crucially, since “It takes a lifetime to create a good reputation and just a few minutes to destroy it,” we must ensure our personal branding efforts do haunt us throughout our life!
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