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TONI THORNE: The downside of social media


TONI THORNE: The downside of social media

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SOCIAL MEDIA is a wonderful tool for communication and promotion. It has enhanced our lives and in many ways made the world a more connected, advanced habitat. 

However, there is always the downside to every innovation – the side of social media which goes against every positive element for which it was created.

This is exemplified when bloggers seek to “expose” the inner workings of people’s private lives under the guise of freedom of speech and championing justice or when fake Instagram profiles are created to embarrass people and their fashion sense, to name a few.

The abusive nature of the creation of memes with unauthorised pictures of persons is also a sore point among many. No wonder a sixteen-year-old African American was publically enraged after a meme was created (which we still use today) known as “The Confused Black Girl” using her image for the meme.

She claimed that the meme makes her look very unattractive and, in fact, she is “sexy” in real life and Instagram’s facilitation of the viral use of her image in millions of memes was abusive. She further stated, “My face looked ugly like I was about to throw up . . . . I look nothing like that in real life . . .”

At a lime recently, a group of men lamented that women were deceiving them in their courting stages and engaging in “modern-day sorcery” by posting pictures with many feature-changing Instagram filters!

These men were genuinely upset at the fact that face-to-face interactions with women differed completely from following them on social media.

There is usually a justification made by media houses when they publish stories on public officials and celebrities, which basically states that the public has a right to know. They have been given that licence.

In my opinion, besides Rihanna Barbados has no celebrities. I always cringe at the term “local celebrity” when people use it. Quite an oxymoron, if we truly assess the meaning of the word celebrity.

As a result, what benefit does it bring to the people of Barbados when we screenshot, munch and publish stories about other people’s misfortunes on social media? Have we become that senseless a society that we forget that each and every one of us has skeletons in our closets?

Where are we finding the time to engage in such lawless, malicious activity on an island this small, where victims have little privacy? How can this activity advance the productivity of our personal lives or make Barbados a more productive society?  

In this day, people believe that they know you simply because they “like” your pictures on Instagram or comment under your Facebook status. They mistake social media interaction for a social relationship in real life. 

There is a two-pronged issue which exists here.

Firstly, perhaps we share too much of our personal lives on social media. I am personally guilty of this. My parents absolutely hate it and have forbidden me from posting pictures of them via this medium.

We are in the Insta/Snapschat era and baby boomers want no part of this upload-lifestyle.

Secondly, image is important to us millennials but we are often too consumed with it. We assume that because people have awe-inspiring pictures on social media that they also live picture-perfect lives. We are then surprised, shocked and become overly involved in the personal challenges and misfortunes that people face from time to time. 

What solutions exist for these issues? We do not know all of them.

I suggest we all start with minding our own business and becoming less consumed with fickle elements of this life. Life is too short! Social media can be a meaningful tool. Let us use it for positivity.

Toni Thorne is a young entrepreneur and World Economic Forum Global Shaper who loves global youth culture, a great debate and living in paradise. Email [email protected]