May 14, 2020 at 12:42 pm #2623Huong NguyenKeymaster
Kectil Assignment Two: Social Media and Personal Branding
Author: Samridh Kudesia, India [email@example.com]
A. INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON YOUTH
• Please write a short paragraph of less than 300 words on the negative personal effects of social media on youth in your community or country. Have you or someone you know experienced depression, cyberbullying, or other negative result of using social media? How was it handled, if at all? What is the youth social media culture in your country? Can youth take a stand and change the culture?
In virtual communities like the ones offered by social media, everyone tries to display the rosy part of their lives, while hiding the not-so-happy side. This skewed portrayal of our lives sets unrealistic expectations as community standards, which people often get crushed under because they fail to live up to them. This negatively impacts the morale and well-being of individuals, and in turn the community as a whole.
The youth in India are very active on social media. From what I have perceived, many young people, since they are quite impressionable, try to mimic the western culture in their bid to look ‘cool’ or ‘high class’, and this non-genuine approach often forces them to live a fake life.
The youth can take a stand by creating an environment where they do not feel the need to live a fake life, and everyone feels comfortable sharing their real feelings and experiences. If there is little or no fear of judgement, the youth can make their lives on social media more genuine and meaningful.
• In your opinion, is excessive use of social media by youth an addiction? Are the damaging effects as bad as drinking or drugs?
The excessive use of social media is definitely an addiction. It is much more easily available, compared to drinking or drugs, since it is legal and costs little. Also, unlike drugs, it does not carry a social taboo, so it is often hard to stop at initial stage of addiction, and the addiction often goes undetected until it is too late. Lastly, the damaging effects include not just loss of time, but more permanent effects like lack of self-esteem, or reduction in attention spans.
• It is said that use of social media reduces job and academic performance either by wasting time or by consistent mental distractions. Do you think this is true or false and why?
This is definitely true. Social media notifications create an irresistible urge to check out what’s new in our virtual communities, and this context-switching from our work to social media and back multiple times a day results in poor efficiency and performance in our academics/work. The more obvious detrimental effect is the amount of time which people can waste by mindlessly scrolling social media feeds without realizing it. Cal Newport has written a book named “Deep Work” where he elaborates on this topic in much more detail.
• Please write a paragraph of 400 words or less on whether social media played a role in government elections or politics in your community or country? Have you experienced “Fake News” in your country? Have you observed the attempted manipulation of public opinion using social media as a platform? Has any social media networking been shut down or censored?
Social media played a huge role in the last two national elections in India in 2019 and 2014. Social media often works in “echo chambers” – this means that the people who are inclined towards a certain political ideology see more and more content which aligns with and thus reaffirms their thoughts, at the expense of the algorithm providing them with content which might challenge their views. This creates a confirmation bias, where people become convinced that they are indeed correct in their thoughts since everyone around them seems to be agreeing with them and thinking the same.
Fake News is a big problem in India, especially in the run up to major elections. Fake news circulated on platforms like Whatsapp has not just spread incorrect information, but it has also created an environment of communal hatred, which has sometimes resulted in tragic events like people being killed. The political parties in India often spread fake news to incite people along communal lines.
India witnesses the largest number of network shutdowns in the world, and for many reasons. These reasons are sometimes justified, but mostly are excuses for the Government to suppress circulation of information. The Indian state of Kashmir was deprived of Internet by the Government for more than six months, crippling the communication system in the state, and bringing the economy and populace to a standstill.
• Please write a paragraph of 300 words or less on whether current social media “Influencers” are having a positive or a negative effect on youth in your country? Are they “Influencing” the right subjects and actions? Please be specific and provide names.
I believe there are all types of influencers on social media today – some of them have a positive effect, while some have a negative effect on the youth. I think it is important for the influencer to clarify, and keep clarifying again and again that the youth should understand that they don’t necessarily have to copy what they do – they can have their own goals, aspirations, and lives.
There are a few influencers who post photoshopped images of themselves, and set unrealistic body shape standards amongst their followers. This leads to low self-esteem in many young adults.
At the same time, there are some positive influencers too. For example, Ankur Warikoo is an India entrepreneur who posts content about how to keep ourselves motivated and how to achieve our goals. His content is very uplifting and does not negatively influence people. Instead, it encourages them to act and believe in themselves and achieve their dreams.
• Is there a lack of positive role models in your community or country? Does social media make it better or worse? What kind of role models would you like to see leading the voice on social media? How can you and your peers make that happen?
I believe for a country the size of India, we could have more local positive role models. Social media has a negative effect here – it often presents us role models from the western world, which might or might not be relevant to the local youth. However, in their presence, it becomes hard for local role models to make a mark or create a space for themselves.
I would like to see more role models from India for Indian youth. They will be more relatable, and will be able to talk about issues which are more relevant to local politics.
We can make this happen by supporting local content, and forming a network of local role models so that they can support and benefit from each other. If it is a team effort, there is a good possibility of local positive influencers being able to make a mark for themselves in the crowd of social media which is often one globalized village.
• Do social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook lead to narcissism—an effort to get self-attention? Is it leading to the “look at me” syndrome? How is that damaging to the poster and to the reader?
Social media platforms thrive on people’s tendency to be narcissistic. The expectation of existing on such platforms has become to stand out from everyone else and going to any length possible to do it. The web is full of articles about how to build a large audience, how frequently to post to stay ‘relevant’, and so on and so forth. All of this is extremely damaging to us as a society. For one, this culture floods our virtual space with ingenuine posts and content. Second, it creates an expectation from everyone to compete against each other, or else fade into oblivion. Such a culture forces people to behave very differently in a virtual environment from how they would behave in their real life, or how they would behave by default.
• Is it possible for youth to show the self-discipline to limit themselves to 2 hours a day on social media?
It is possible for youth to show self-discipline to limit themselves, of course. What this requires is for them to first acknowledge that it is an unhealthy addiction. Then they can gradually reduce the time they spend on social media. There are quite a few apps and browser extensions which can help them do this. What also helps is thinking about they are looking to achieve from their time spent on social media. Lastly, people can form groups and help each other keep accountable and thus overcome this addiction.
• A positive aspect of social media is education and awareness. Please describe a few examples where youth in your community have learned about an issue or subject and reacted appropriately to address a situation because of a social media campaign.
The best part about social media is that it makes knowledge accessible to everyone in the world, irrespective of their geographical location.
In India, the youth learned about Facebook’s intention to launch “Free Basics” in India – an offering which went against the principle of Net Neutrality. The youth then used the reach of the internet to rally support, and the Government eventually agreed to not allow the offering to be launched. This is one successful example of the use of a social media campaign.
Similarly, a company named Unilever was releasing toxic chemicals in Kodaikanal, a town situated in South India. The youth campaigned on social media, and created a lot of pressure on the company as well as the Government to rectify the issue.
B. PERSONAL BRANDING
• Think critically about what image you project when people meet you in person. What is your message? How does who you speak, dress, your body language, your hair, all give a subtle message about who you are and what you think is important? Answer in a short paragraph what kind of image you want to present and whether you accomplish that.
I think my image amongst those who know me is that of a mature, reliable person. I speak in measured words, stay calm in tough situations, and this gives people the confidence that they can rely on me.
However, I do not pay a lot of attention to things like how I keep my hair, or how frequently I shave my beard, or what clothes I wear . I am aware that these aspects of my appearance are equally important, and I am trying to be more cognizant about my decisions and consciousness on this front.
I would like to convey an image of a person who is proactive about what he wants to achieve in his life, and is full of vitality. I would like to exude a positive, approachable vibe around me which would encourage people to discuss opportunities with me and confide in me as friends.
• Assume you are looking an employer looking to fill an entry level position. What would you look for when interviewing a youth candidate in person? Would the following matter?
i. Is the candidate timely? Did he/she show up at or before any agreed time and ready to do the task at hand? Timeliness is a major indicator of professionalism.
ii. Did the candidate study and get prepared for the meeting? Did he/she read materials ahead of time to get ready for a meeting or did he/she try to slip by and fake the way through with no preparation?
iii. Did the candidate appear reliable and trustworthy?
iv. Did the candidate speak with a combination of humility, authority and preparedness?
v. List other attributes you would look for when you interview the candidate for the job.
These factors would definitely be the yardstick I would use to make my decision about the candidate’s professionalism. I would also add one more lens – how does the candidate treat people who hold less power than him – the sweeper, the guard, the receptionist, etc. This would give me a good sense of who s/he is as a person.
• After watching Nozipho’s Web Session, write a short paragraph about how to give a good oral presentation on an important topic with a powerpoint slide deck.
To give a good oral presentation on an important topic with a powerpoint presentation, it is important to keep the audience in mind, and ensure we communicate with them directly. While the powerpoint is there for support, it is there for exactly that – support. The communication has to be between the speaker and the audience, not the slides and the audience. We should rehearse the content well, know what we are speaking about, and have a fair amount of confidence in our skills. It is also important to not have too much content on our slides, as that would make people focus on the slide instead of focussing on the speaker. Lastly, it is important that we make the session engaging, instead of launching into a monologue – it is important to remember that the more important goal of a presentation if not for us to convey information, but for the audience to receive it.
• Assume again that you are an employer looking to hire a youth for an entry level position. Would you check their social media? What kinds of things on social media would keep you from hiring someone?
Yes, I would check their social media. I would want to know more about the candidate – more than they are trying to show me. Since social media is a ledger of their past activities, I would definitely check them out on social media to know them from before they were trying to get the job.
If the candidate has posted sexist/racist comments, or shared inappropriate content on social media, I would not hire them. Additionally, I would also see how respectfully they discuss topics online – if they post hurtful comments or disrespect opinions which contradict theirs, I would not hire them.
C. PANEL DISCUSSION
• Assemble 4-6 of your peers between ages 18-26 for a discussion session that you lead on the effect of social media on youth in your country. Discuss the following and submit a short report of the outcome. Describe 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.
i. Ask your panelists if they agree that excessive use of social media can cause depression and why or why not.
ii. Lead a discussion on cyberbullying and “herd behavior” (i.e., forcing everyone to think the same way).
iii. Do your panelists think there a relationship between the amount of use of social media and lack of productivity, mental distraction and inability to get a job done?
I conducted this panel on a Zoom call. It consisted of 4 friends of mine from college.
The panelists agreed that excessive use can cause depression – partly because of the time spent, and partly because of the toxic content which is posted on social media nowadays. They believed that while some of it could help people question their firmly held beliefs, too much of it could result in people getting adversely affected by them, and severe cases could result in clinical depression too.
Cyber bullying is a real issue amongst the youth. Since everyone takes social media as a popularity contest, the number of ‘likes’ on their post is seen as a measure of how popular they are. Since everyone wants to seem popular, they go to extreme measures to pick up a fight with someone who does not agree with them, and if there is a group of people targeting a single person for their views, it can turn into cyber-bullying. Echo chambers are easily formed on social media too, which results in herd-behavior.
Use of social media is not unequivocally detrimental for a person, the panel felt. While excessive use can cause harm, use in strict limits can in fact increase the productivity of a person, since they can use it as a platform to socialize with people they otherwise cannot meet in person. Additionally, social media can expose them to opportunities and completely new interests. However, it was agreed that excessive use of social media definitely results in a reduction in efficiency in getting useful work done.
• Review the Kectil 15 Rules of Social Media Use. Collect the comments of your panelists. Do they agree or disagree with the Kectil Social Media Rules? Do they think they can comply with these Rules? Would they be willing to distribute them to others?
The panelists largely agree with the general spirit of the Kectil 15 Rules of Social Media Use. However, most panelists did feel that 2 hours per day is a bit too much to spend on social media. Regarding the other points, while there was general consensus, the panelists also debated that while people should think about how they ‘look’ when posting something on social media, they should also sometimes use the platform for taking a stand against that which they don’t agree with, even if it goes against conventional wisdom. The idea is that social media is a place to express one’s self too, in addition to creating a reputation for one’s self. This makes it a powerful platform. However, even if one posts contradictory views, they should be posted in a respectful manner.
We all decided to be more cognizant of these rules as we use continue using social media.
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