Social media has become a way of life for many. From Instagram’s one billion active users to Twitter’s 400 million daily tweets, these platforms have a massive impact on people around the world.
As Social Media Week Lagos 2018 kicked off yesterday, we asked our Editors what social media really means to them.
Social media. Bane or blessing? Since Facebook changed the world there have been distinct trends shaping the way we view each ourselves and each other. How often have we seen that meme ‘ Don’t compare your behind the scenes to someone’s highlight reel’ ? Countless times I’m sure.
I remember a conversation I had with two different friends, both in media when Instagram first began to capture the minds of the populace. I’d emphasized how this was ‘a chance to shape your own narrative, with media you create yourself’ as budding media girls with potential yet untapped – I assumed this was a self-evident argument. One of them listened, put her own spin on it, and currently has one of the biggest media personality brands on the continent today – the other, kept getting in her own way, insisting that her brand is ‘serious’ and selfies and #OOTDs have no place in her brand. Needless to say, this approach hasn’t gotten her very far. And the irony is I don’t necessarily disagree with her theory, the difference is deciding what your angle is and running with it.
For me, the most important thing about social media is understanding it is a tool – whether for finding influencers for your business who can grow it effectively, or directly interacting with your clients; building influence yourself or simply sharing day to day moments with friends and family.
Are there negative aspects to social media? For sure. From scams to the insecurity it can foster there is certainly a ‘dark underbelly’ if you will, and whilst it can sometimes feel like we are all living in an episode of Black Mirror, I think this is true of all mediums, so I choose to focus on the positives. Social media has not only been a crucial tool in amplifying important conversations from political uprisings to social movements like #TimesUp exponentially grown the influencer economy and given us unprecedented access to people we may never have had cause to, it has also engaged young people and allowed them to earn (if they have sense sha) and create value in non-traditional careers. And with the current economic turmoil, Nigeria especially is facing, I count this more as something to celebrate than as something to curse.
– Isoken Ogiemwonyi
First, it was Yahoo Messenger, MSN, MySpace, then came Facebook and I found Tumblr. That was really what blew things up for me personally – the photos, quotes, videos and gifs, fashion, vacation destinations I’d kill to visit, foods I’d love to try…. That was where I got my first “virtual world” experience and I was sucked in, I couldn’t stop. And so blogging began for me and that was the beginning of my real relationship with social media. Facebook was just a fling, Tumblr was the real deal.
Social media is self-expression, letting your thoughts out and being creative with just 140 characters (before it was increased), finding the wittiest captions for that one Instagram picture that took going through 500 similar poses to pick just the right one and your pout is perfect. It’s make-believe, positive vibes and all round life inspiration that gives me the worst FOMO feels but also makes me want to work harder just to achieve more and experience what more there is to my life in Las Gidi when I’d rather be in Las Vegas or Los Angeles, California lovin’!
Social media has taught me a lot, it’s made me appreciate the creativity of others, their thought processes and value systems. The same platforms that raise intelligent arguments that could change the way I see things or change the world with just a single tweet are the same platforms that make me burst out laughing with fail-videos and gifs. The same platforms that have been a stepping stone to greatness for some amazing talents and professionals, a source of livelihood for many, are the same platforms that NEVER EVER forget when you’ve messed up really badly, spreading the news like wildfire with every repost because “the internet never forgets”.
Social media is like a convention centre, able to accommodate everyone in it and what happens there is a depiction of what happens in reality, as well as how people feel about you in reality.
“She unfollowed me” rolls eyes and in real life, “I’m never speaking to her again.”
Unfollow is the new way to end friendships or relationships, blocking works too, especially if you don’t want to see what the person posts, which, in reality, means you don’t want to be involved or even be aware of the other person’s life.
Social media has changed me and it has changed the world with so many opportunities available at the next “click & scroll”, my only question is… What’s next?
P.S: My absolute favourite platform surely has to be Instagram, it’s like a better version of Tumblr for me…. Well my absolute favourite aside from bellanaijastyle.com of course ?
– Eki Ogunbor
What does Social Media mean to me? Well, it depends on what day of the week you ask me and whether I am completely in #friyay #mood or am over all the #mondaymotivation and #blessed posts. I think it is nothing short of extraordinary that one can connect with millions, nay billions and not have to leave your recumbent position on the sofa, just ensure you have a phone, enough data loaded or that you are in posting distance of free wi-fi and you are good to go.
At its best, when it is living up to its name. Social Media creates communities, that can congregate around information and content that is of shared interest and value. Think of it as one big living room where everyone is just hanging out, viewing, commenting and lest we forget liking words and ideas (Twitter), images (Instagram) and a mash-up of the two (SnapChat). The immediacy of intimacy is particularly intoxicating – lusting after those new Malone Souliers shoes or coveting autumn/winter everything at Gucci and want to chat at length about why you are currently thinking that now is the time to make a cast of your head and carry it in lieu of a handbag? Chances are you will find others who are having those exact same thoughts and you will connect, and it will be a million times better than in the ‘olden days’ when at best a glossy magazine was leafed through with another friend who may or may not share your same aesthetic sensibility as you.
In the case of acting as a catalyst for political change, Social Media is the turbo-charged younger sibling to the proverbial ‘bush telegraph’, one click and things not only spread like wildfire but also become huge unstoppable global conversations with real consequences. From the USA 2008 election where people discussed openly and then gradually began to consider the possibility of a Black President to the Arab Spring of 2010 and closer to home, the global outrage surrounding the Chibok abductions in Nigeria in 2014 which resulted in millions posting, sharing and retweeting messages and images that demanded #bringbackourgirls, Social Media’s reach and impact is undeniable. However, one could also correctly argue that the very same Social Media that brought us Barack and Michelle to the White House is the same one that brought us a certain Mr Trump too, I guess that’s when I leave it there or simply state #sad!”
But what of the dark side, and let’s not deny it’s existence, of Social Media? From the anonymous trolls who torment and threaten individuals to the point their lives are not their own to the Social Media ‘beefs’ where a particular celebrity’s fan-base (I am looking at all of you in the Beyhive) will go-in, full attack mode on suspected ‘Beckys’ and render their personal and business lives unmanageable? Are we meant to shrug our shoulders and just say it is all part of the course? What too of the Online Bullying, where the playground, just got magnified and studies show spikes in teenage suicide, self-harming and anxiety disorders closely correlate with the pressures to present and be perceived as acceptable and liked on Social Media? Do we just slide left and mutter how these casualties didn’t realise it was just ‘banter’ and a case of ‘doing it for the ‘gram’ rather than meaning any serious harm? And what of those who are older and should know better but live and die by the number of likes they get per post and positive comments below the line. Shouldn’t other things matter more, like one’s actual real-life rather than the filtered to perfection one they are putting out there? So much to consider, too much for here, but we all have an individual and collective responsibility whether we admit it or not.
As for me I definitely engage a lot less than my colleagues, but that just might be more to do with my woeful ambivalence towards selfie-taking and caution of appearing agbaya-esque rather than anything else!
– Mazzi Odu
It was Facebook, then Twitter and Tumblr, and then finally Instagram and Snapchat. My Social Media addiction has grown from platform to platform – and no I’m not denying it (blame it on being a millennial). For me, the world didn’t change to a digitally driven age, it is what I grew to know and love. What does Social Media mean to me – almost everything. I love how it is one big connection; from cities, states, countries to creation of personal and business relationships. Everything is a hashtag away and waking up to notifications from perfect strangers’ *lovestruck emojis* under your selfie isn’t half bad too.
I go on different platforms for different reasons: Twitter is a window of knowledge for me. There are so many engaging conversations on different topics that will suck you in and I love to read every tweet with a different voice lol. It’s more talk and could get a little too serious for me. That’s when I run back to my favourite, Instagram. For me, IG is a cafe where everyone comes together to showcase their personality
or the personality they wish they had. That alone is motivating, in a way – maybe it’s because people only show their best lives and that motivates everyone else to live their best lives too.
I’m there for anything that is visually appealing, for us that love posting, we’ve become amateur photographers mastering the art of taking a great shot of our lunches or shoes of the day. And I always go for a quick peep on my timeline and find myself 200 posts later in a stranger’s #VacationMode. You can always predict what new trends are coming from the comfort of your bed as you scroll through and for me, as a blogger, it’s always going to be a hub to meet others and get inspired daily.
I’ll always have the shocked look when someone says they aren’t on social media, whattt?. They is a lot of diverse content to fit every personality.
There may be so many vices too but if we are being honest, Social Media isn’t to blame, bad people, are. Frauds, bullies, trolls are all spearheaded by bad people, don’t let that dissuade you.
So if someone follows you and has a decent feed, be nice enough to follow back – that is, in fact, the online language of being interested in being friends.
– Mary Edoro
What Does Social Media Mean to You?