See What Social Media Has Done to Us

Or Maybe Just the Millennials and Gen Zs?

I agree that the society is increasingly saturated by the media but I have watched with amazement and sometimes disdain the types of attitudes, values and culture we have imbibed as a result of our continuous and unavoidable exposure to social media especially.

For instance, I have had countless stories of individuals who have complained of their inability to hold consequential conversations with people as a result of memes, emojis and unnecessary abbreviations of words. Why say kk when you can say Okay?

Now, this is not to say emojis for instance are not appropriate or formal. On the contrary, emojis help personalize conversations, represent emotions appropriately, saves space and the time spent trying to express our feelings in words.

In this article, I’d love to highlight some character traits or funny attitudes ‘caused’ by social media that I have observed and even experienced as a young adult.

First, have you ever been in a meeting room, and everyone’s head is just buried over their phones maybe during a coffee break or recess? And if you poke your nose into the majority of their mini social rooms, it’s either they are chatting, checking the latest celebrity news or any other trivial thing.

Now this is also not to encourage invasion of privacy or condemn spending your leisure time perusing your phone, my point here is that social media can deprive us of authentic and organic communication. In fact, it has evidently decreased our ability to hold quality conversations face to face and acquire basic interpersonal and communication skills.

Secondly, it is almost impossible to sit quietly, maybe to reflect for an hour without grabbing our gadgets to check the latest notification. Research discovered that the average person’s attention span has dropped to 8 seconds from 15 seconds 20 years ago as a result of how much we are bombarded with information daily.

It takes disciple not to let social media steal your time- Alexis Ohanian

MIT Media Lab, speaking about the benefit of reflection, noted that the “process of reflection helps us to develop our understanding more deeply and to make our intuitive knowledge shareable with others”. Social media has practically denied us of this advantage or I will say we have allowed social media to deprive us of this.

Thirdly, many are not even sure about who they are or what they want. People are pressured from all sides to display false digital identities and pretend that all is well. As a matter of fact, Instagram is just the wrong place to actually know a person or see how they look for a significant part of their day. Everyday seems like a good day on screen!

Sara Kurfeß (Unsplash)

An author was correct when he said that “social media has created jealous behavior over illusion. Sadly, some are envious things, relationships and lifestyles that don’t even exist”.

Further, the attitude of being insensitive and disrespectful is a new normal. The twittersphere has become a safe space for miscreants and insensitive young people to blast individuals as they wish. Imagine sending an innocuous tweet and all you receive are backlashes from individuals you never even know.

Nigeria’s twitter space is a vivid example. An author described this public sphere as “a land whose inhabitants are not subject to anyone’s control, having the freedom to denigrate anyone in what is called dissing”.

Thoughtfulness and understanding are no longer fancy words. “Since, I will never have to meet the person for real and we are in the era of freedom of speech, I can ‘speak my mind as I wish’.” These words sound familiar? We have become “way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it.” (Mike Tyson). Too bad!

Like I noted earlier and without mincing words, social media has affected our communication and social skills. Academics are continuously worried about the negative effect of abbreviations on literacy skills, especially student’s spelling ability. So imagine sending an email to a professor with ‘ur’, ‘thx’ instead of ‘Your’ or ‘Thank you’. It can be very offensive!

Lastly, but not certainly the least, you can barely hold meaningful conversations with people. Memes, Emojis and Graphics Interchange Formats (GIFs) have definitely made communication pretty better, engaging and fun. But haven’t you realized that many are overdoing it and using it carelessly?

I have been in conversations especially on group chats and you see the reckless use of memes that only renders people lost in the conversation. Nothing gets a person irritated or your message “discredited” than the use of GIFs or memes that are irrelevant to the subject of discussion! Its simply about been courteous and temperate.

Conclusively, social media has proven to be a worthy tool for building relationships, sharing knowledge and educating oneself, but reaping these benefits is dependent on individuals ability to utilize their gadgets wisely and appropriately.

And as we all scramble for social validation, I only hope that someday, our lives will be as beautiful as our virtual identities.

NB: You can also share some funny social media cultures you have observed in the comment section.

A budding researcher with a keen interest in the media and developmental policies that has the propensity to spur growth