May 12, 2020 at 9:35 am #2589Huong NguyenKeymaster
Kectil Social Media and Personal Branding Assignment, Elicana Nduhuura, Uganda
Personal Experience with Social Media.
In 2013, I acquired my first personal mobile-phone during my ordinary level vacation. I created my first Facebook account and this became my alpha and omega, the only social Media platform I knew of. Life of connecting with friends started there and then and I remember searching for my elder brother and Dr Benjamin Carson (my inspirational personalities at the time). Unlike neighbor schools, owning a phone here was no offense till I fell prey of this “free world” policy. I used to spend much time on my academics and only utilize a portion of the little minutes reserved for sleep into Facebook. Imagine, leaving reading room at past midnight and you are on phone for the next two hours. Similarly, there was this little boy in lower class, on a mastercard scholarship who had a smartphone by then and dude would spend over 4 hours on chat. Eventually, his grades went down and performance started deteriorating. This didn’t stop on my little phone alone. I remember logging into my account on the school’s desktop computer during evening lessons of ICT. What I vividly remember is that I wasn’t alone doing this. Almost ⅔ of the class did this even when the class guide attempted to block it by switching off Internet. This means our actions were disrupting our learning efforts and equally wasted opportunities for other students. I remember a point in time when I had to unfriend my brother after a series of confronting me to leave Facebook every time he got me online during school. The poor me was tracked later and he gave me a salient warning. One fateful saturday evening, I carried my phone to charge in our busy classroom as it was for majority of us to enjoy weekend vibes. I then tapped on an interesting video of ‘Anne Kansime’ a popular comedian that arose attention of the class. No sooner had every one jumped onto my desk to catch a glimpse than the Deputy Head teacher stepped in. He took a number of the mobile phones from my colleagues and handled me tightly since I was a “top grade” academician for this class. I was made to sign a number of agreements and my device was confiscated till I sat my last paper at this school.
Social Media and Addiction among the Youth
I agree that millions of Young people people out there are using social media for most of their time. Unlike the western world, social media use in Africa starts from the average age of 19. This is an active age group where adolescent takes toll characterized by tendency to demonstrate superiority. It’s also a stage of Paramount academic education mostly for Advanced level and higher institutions of learning. Personally, I remember how I developed a strong connection with my new phone when I had just opened my Facebook account. There was always a compelling need to check online in anticipation of replies for the posts and messages I would have lost. That was truly addiction! I have had to discuss this with friends from western world and their use of Social media is higher and starts at a young age due to developed technology and as most find themselves alone in many states where they move for different endeavours thus social media platforms remain vital in keeping them connected with family. In all the situations, Addiction slowly comes in but can easily be suppressed unlike use of drugs or excessive drinking which involves medication to gradually overcome.
Social Media use versus Job and Academic Performance
It’s true that excessive social media use corrupts an individual and reduces concentration level and their efficiency. From local experience, there are scenarios where I have had to leave shops because the attendants were busy chatting and didn’t give me time. Giving a client limited time reduces their interest can affect sales of the entreprise and if detected by the employer, the attendant risks losing this job. Looking at academics, the effect is much pronounced. You will often see statements like “keep calm, it’s exam time, Heads at work, Off for exams, e.tc” on many WhatsApp accounts of university students during seasons of papers. This gives a clue about taking extra attention to prepare for exams. Won’t that mean that social media has been utilising their valuable time ? Similarly, a colleague in high school lost position at Mastercard -BRAC sponsorship as his performance dropped so much which I honestly attribute to spending many of his reading hours on his new smartphone.
Social Media, Fake News and Politics
For long, Social media and fake news have been part and parcel of Ugandan politics since 1962. Every Presidential Aspirant in Uganda operates a social media account that is meant to communicate their everyday activities, motives and amplify their voices in communities and fake news is used to create impressive stories and attributes about the candidate. This is the most valuable part of publicity since the more people you convince to your side translates to the more followers and eventual victory. For the time I have lived, the Uganda communications commission (UCC) disables all social media platforms during presidential elections and this deliberately shuts off exchange of sensitive information through social media, the most swift and influential platform in the political arena. This has continually given victory to the ruling National Resistance movement party. At a constituency level, Social media has been used to amplify ‘minor’ and true statements made by certain members of Parliament against them by opponents. Recently, a legislator from Ruhaama county was caught on a wrong side as he tried explaining why he doesn’t spare time to greet and interact with his subjects. “I don’t have time for every one. A Person leaves home for a certain purpose and I have things to attend to,” A message read on his time line. This ‘genuine’ statement has been negatively amplified by agents employed by his Opponents to blackmail citing the legislator as incapable and having no time to attend to their problems despite getting time to seek for their mandate. The infodemic stress of covid-19 has not spared Uganda either. Fake news and blackmail are experienced every day. Basically, I can cite two scenarios regarding covid-19 response where the office of the Prime minister was declared in a scandal of corruption and the stories of supplementary budget and subsequent 20 billion shillings allocation to members of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda where the lady Speaker is at the hot end. In the corruption case, suspected “Anti-movement” diehards crafted a viral story with falsely projected budget details for covid-19 response fund to vulnerable population and linked the contractor to be a ‘biological’ brother of the Prime minister of Uganda. This was meant to attract the public opinion on how the government is looting her own economy.
Social Media Influencers
I regard influencers as individuals who have done a tremendous job in improving welfare and visibility for initiatives of young people across the country. Personally, I have needed services of social media influencer twice to advertise an event and attract a crowd of on-line followers for a community project about climate change. One of my friends is a brand ambassador and influencer for two companies is paid weekly USD60 for his twitter and facebook promo services. This is an exemplary success demonstrated and a lesson to other young people to positively utilise their time on social media and grow their communication skills and public relations. Influencers have also proved to be ‘stress relievers’ for many on social media as they post funny and interesting messages that are not only about humor but also sensual for many of us. From the covid-19 experience, influencers have been key in showing solidarity and promoting good practices for those in institutional quarantines and state lock downs. One famous cartoonist Ssentongo Spire exposed the suffering encountered in Ugandan institutional quarantine, which was circulated by many other influencers and eventually saw the National taskforce offer better options for them. However, some influencers have promoted bad behaviour by sharing either obscene or abusive messages on social media platforms which perpetuate immorality among young people. Stella Nyanzi, a Ugandan pro-feminist and ardent supporter of Anti-NRM party has been arrested, prosecuted and jailed uncountable times for publicly abusing those he disagrees with including the president of Uganda and his former boss Mamdani Mohamuud. The recent case was her social media post that referred to the president Y.K Museveni as a “Pair of Buttocks”
Social media and Role models
There are a number of role models that Young people lookup to ranging from entrepreneurs, academicians, Activists and professionals. These attract public attention through their social media platforms and their communications are followed up to the dot. Honestly, musicians and footballers remain the most ranking role models in most communities in Uganda for example Hon Robert Kyangulanyi is a member of 10th Parliament of the Republic of Uganda. The legislator for Kyadondo East is one former ‘Ghetto’ youth known as Bobi Wine whose early music career brought him to the Wall of Fame and is currently among top contenders of the Presidential seat for state house-Uganda. My role models here include Mr Patrick Bitature (Entreprenuer), Prof. William Bazeyo (Academician) and Dr Ruth Jane Aceng (Politician and Activist). These have been instrumental in setting a trend for youth and have used Social media to communicate ideas, sensitise the public on high yield concepts for young people and that’s the kind of positive vibe that every person needs to build their careers. Social media therefore remains relevant and better in availing an opportunity for young people to learn from those who are leading change in different locales. What models should lead voices on social media depends on interests and what change is being sought. Experience about what you are communicating is what matters most and therefore young activists should come in and influence change. The foundation to make this happen is practicing the rules of social media by amplifying our positive stories about leading change in our communities.
Social media and Narcissism
Most social media users especially young people are promoting the idea of sharing their intimacy, travel, family and many private stories that have ceased to make meaning. Despite putting trouble to the poster by revealing confidential information and compromising security, some readers are challenged by a fancy life style that their colleagues are living(based on what is posted) and thus can drive depressive thoughts.
Social media Vs Self discipline
It’s practically possible to limit your activities on social media to two hours on normal circumstances and actually you may not even get those two hours for social media if you are actively occupied by a number of tasks to accomplish. The only exception are situations where you are running a certain campaign and perhaps you wanna flood social media with this information all day. For example, recently April 22, 2020 was Earth Day. This is a day to steer advocacy efforts on Environmental protection and as such all the activists where supposed to use social media to share all their stories throughout the day.
Education and Awareness on Social Media (Lived experiences)
Social media remains a basic platform for much of education and awareness on crucial aspects of advocacy. I have been involved in many of these awareness campaigns including the Campaign Against Racism (CAR) and Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The CAR is an initiative of Youth inspired by Social Medicine Consortium intended to create awareness on Health inequities, Human Rights and social justice necessary in dismantling unfair treatment of mankind basing on color, race or origin. Recently, we ran a ‘Cancel the Debt’ session on twitter and Social media to challenge the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to cancel the billions of dollars, a debt imposed on developing countries and perpetuated by colonialism. We conducted a ‘UHC’ advocacy campaign when I was a secretary general of Ugandan Chapter for Student Network Organisation. This was a two week’s Facebook and WhatsApp sessions that informed students undertaking health related courses to understand the needs of a well functioning health care delivery program while integrating the multidisciplinary aspect of partnerships. Other awareness programs seen commonly on Social media include Earth Day and Climate Advocacy that re-branded into chapters such as Fridays for Future and Schools Strike which have seen a number of initiatives on Climate action including our own facebook chapter ‘Change Climate Change project’
Kectil 15 rules of Social media
Creating a personal brand through how you present where ever you appear is one of the key attributes to a successful, influential youth leader. Who we are determines what society perceives of us and thus how willing they are to work with us in bringing about the change we seek. Personally, I would want to portray my self as a responsible citizen with capability to lead change. I accomplish this through practicing good communication skills (respectful speech and active listening), practising patriotism(putting community first) and attracting public credit through proper dress code, personal hygiene and a friendly impression. I also do read a number of books and articles on different topics that I also share with different colleagues.
Feedback from Youth discussion.
I was not able to organise a panel discussion. These are responses that I got from 5 youth leaders that I asked about their views regarding the excellent study of Dr Primack on Social media and ill health. From their feedback, Four believed that too much exposure on social media is related to depression with reasons ranging from inability to rest, compulsion and discouraging comments from timeline friends. One disagreed on account that social media is one way to get off stress while keeping occupied with no room for wrong thoughts.
Our take on ‘cyberbulling’ and ‘herd behaviour ’ remains inconclusive since many parties are often involved. Driven by anger, mischief and political influence, different people engage in cyber bulling where as ‘herd behavior ’ is generally influenced by a supreme feeling. Power and influence are reflected this way.
Social media and productivity should be greatly researched and solutions brought to attention of youth leaders. All responses showed positive correlation between use of social media and lack of productivity. “I resort to social media whenever I am challenged at work. I need more time to re-think,” One of them wrote.
Attributes of a Youth Candidate
A potential leader must be informed, trustworthy and honest. I would rely on these since leaders are influencers and therefore can not lead change when misguided. Along the way, there are critiques that will try to block you with either wrong information or facts from a wrong direction and you will therefore be distracted. Trust and honesty are inborn attributes and therefore high yield for potential leaders. Remember change makers and advocates always lead sensitive campaigns often against government or big companies and as such you need to adequately read and stay up-to-date to challenge the nihilists but also be honest enough to attract public support.
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