Besai Harawa – Malawi

  • May 18, 2020 at 3:10 pm #2629
    Huong Nguyen

    Besai Harawa, Malawi
    Social media has a lot of negative effects on youth in my country. The biggest issue is peer cyberbullying, which leads to depression or self harm, and in other cases it turns the bullied youth into bullies themselves. It is only recently where more young people have started raising awareness on mental health. And this has helped more young people come forward and address their mental health. The social media culture in my country so far has been repetitive cycles of bullying. But that has been changing. The youth stand a very high chance of changing the culture because they are the ones who normally use social media. They are the ones most active on social media. In my opinion, excessive use of social media reduces job and academic performance by both wasting time and consistent mental distractions. Most of the youth spend an average of 5 hours per day on social media which not only distracts them from doing more important things, it also wastes the time they could have used for other more productive tasks. Use of social media is addictive as proven by how much time the youth spend online and can’t seem to help themselves from doing so. Some have been known to spend entire days on social media and then end up not doing anything productive. In my opinion, the damaging effects are just as bad as drinking or drugs in that it hinders productivity. It reduces job and academic performance through both mental distractions and wasting time.

    Social media played a very minimal role in government elections in my country, largely because about 70% of the population lives in the rural area and so is not very active on social media. “Fake News” is everywhere in my country. Mostly because of the Corona virus pandemic. Social media has managed to spread panic and because most people are not educated because of poverty, we have had quite a lot of people believing in everything they hear. There have been a lot of cases where people have tried to manipulate public opinion using social media, mostly whatsapp and facebook. And unfortunately people are uninformed and so believe almost everything they hear. No social media networking has been shut down or censored.

    Current social media “Influencers” are having a positive effect on youth in my country. The biggest issue, that in my opinion, needed attention, is mental health. The influencers are doing a good job of “Influencing” on mental health, a topic which before now had little to no focus in this country where most people believe mental health is a “white people problem”. Some of the biggest influencers are artists. For example Nthanda Manduwi, who is a blogger and able to influence the general public with her opinions.

    There are plenty of positive role models in my country who focus on different areas of influence. Most people focus on those areas that have a personal significance to them. In this digital age, social media makes it better and easier to spread different messages. Although it also makes it worse because it is easier to misinform people by twisting different messages. i would like to see even more young people speaking up about their experiences. With more varied topics. Personally, I would like to see more people talking about mental health. Both young and old. My peers and I are working on that through different mental health literacy projects.

    In some cases, social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook lead to narcissism. Most people try to present themselves differently than they really are. And the reader may in some cases get depressed because they cannot position themselves in the same way. It is not possible for youth to show self-discipline by limiting themselves to 2 hours a day on social media. Too many of them are addicted to it.

    An example of an instance where people have used a social media campaign to address an issue would be mental health awareness, where people have come together to acknowledge it is a problem and raise awareness on how to end it. A really powerful example was the media campaign called #TakeItToTheStreets where Malawian women marched against gender based harassment that we have been facing for years. The women in my country are publicly stripped naked, harassed and humiliated when they are deemed to be inappropriately dressed. In most cases, men gang up on the helpless women and verbally and physically insult them in the streets.

    When people meet me in person, I present different messages depending on where we meet. With most official business meet-ups, I present as someone who is serious about her work, interested in making whatever needs to be done, to happen. How I speak, dress, my body language, my hair, all give a subtle message about who I am and what I think is important. I am always cautious about what message I am passing and so I actively try to make sure I position myself in a way that passes the message I want to express. They all pass a message that I am serious about my work. I am approachable, passionate about what I believe in and eager to work to achieve it all. I also want to pass the message that I am an expert and knowledgeable in my field of work, which I do not always manage to pass off.

    If I were looking for an employee, I would be looking for someone Inventive, proactive, detail-oriented, able to pivot quickly to reflect changing priorities and needs, someone with outstanding written and verbal communication skills. It would matter if the candidate is timely. I believe being on time is exceptionally important. Whether the candidate studied and prepared fully for the meeting also speaks to how serious they will be about the work, and this is important. Being reliable and trustworthy is a great trait to have for any work assignment.

    After watching Nozipho’s Web Session, I feel that to give a good oral presentation on an important topic with a powerpoint slide deck, one needs to be very knowledgeable of the topic, to not put all the information on the slides, but instead just put the main points on it that will remind you of what you are supposed to speak on. Use the slides as cue points.
    As an employer looking to hire a youth for an entry level position, I believe it is important to check their social media because in this digital age, most peoples social media reflects them. It reflects who they are and what they think about various topics. So it is important to be sure one is hiring someone whose views are the right representation of ones company. Thre are several things on social media that would keep me from hiring someone, some of which are a display of misogyny, homophobia, racism and tribalism, just to name a few.

    After describing the study by Dr. Primack and colleagues in 2014-2016 at the University of Pittsburgh which found there is a significant, linear relationship between social media use and depression, measured either as total time or frequency of visits.
    My panelists agreed that excessive use of social media can cause depression, because it draws one towards unrealistic viewpoints of reality. Most young people compare themselves too much to others and this can make them lose joy from what they already have and instead start coveting what others have.
    After leading a discussion on cyberbullying and “herd behavior” (i.e., forcing everyone to think the same way). My panelists agreed there is a relationship between the amount of use of social media and lack of productivity, mental distraction and inability to get a job done. The more time one spends on social media, the less they have time for other things. Some of the panelists disagreed with this viewpoint. They believe that one can manage to balance both social media and being productive.
    After reviewing the Kectil 15 Rules of Social Media Use, we determined that my panelists agree with the Kectil Social Media Rules. And they can comply with these Rules.

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