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Social Media: Shining Light On The Depraved, Opportunity Seekers

By Olumide Ayodele
11 December 2022   |   5:00 am
With the introduction of information technology facilitated by the Internet, the world has gradually evolved from the face-to-face means of communication to interact, educate, create awareness, socialise, and form relationship with one another. With the advent of the social media, a person could be deemed omniscient — having total knowledge of every subject, irrespective of…

With the introduction of information technology facilitated by the Internet, the world has gradually evolved from the face-to-face means of communication to interact, educate, create awareness, socialise, and form relationship with one another. With the advent of the social media, a person could be deemed omniscient — having total knowledge of every subject, irrespective of the field. No wonder developed countries, like the United States, witnessed a significant increase in number of people using the Internet; climbing from eight per cent to 72 per cent since 2005. And the number keeps increasing, with the introduction of new social media platform to engage people either in their need for entertainment, education, socialisation, relationship, publicity and professionalism.

It is safer to say that the key objective of social media is to achieve connectivity with people, irrespective of their geographical region, culture, gender, social class, or profession. Indeed, social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, and WhatsApp have provided people — either adults or non-adults — with the avenue for them to interact and relate with friends, families, colleagues, and other interested people. However, the connectivity introduced by these social media platforms create an avenue where nefarious people extort people out of their hard-earned money. For instance, a fraudster only need to gain knowledge of a person’s phone number to send fraudulent information as a means of gaining the person’s private data. Unfortunately, there are many people out there who have since become victims of fraudsters as a result of their believing in the fake messages sent by them. 

Nevertheless, some people believe that the advantages of social media far outweigh its disadvantages. For instance, students in the 20th century will weep in envy if they had the possibility of glancing at the abundance of learning that social media could afford 21st century students. Nowadays, student have opportunity of studying by themselves and broadening their knowledge on various fields from as low as other knowledgeable students to as high as professors from various countries across the world. With just a click of the button, you could download, watch, and read relevant data from social media platforms such as YouTube, Wikipedia, ResearchGate, Academia.edu, and PubMed. Hence, a student does not need to relegate himself or herself to the old fashioned system of taking and reading notes on different subjects. Now, with the introduction of video social media platforms like YouTube, the boring subjects are now becoming less and less boring. 

However, with the flexibility introduced to the educational system by social media, students have now become lazy in engaging in classwork, with some rather engaging in plagiarism tactics as a means of meeting assignment deadlines. Now, the mindset of the typical student feel that they could play games all day and if assignment is called for, all they need is to copy from the enormous information provided through the social media. Another notable disadvantage of learning through the educational data provided by the social media is that some are plagiarised. For example, websites such as Wikipedia are filled with engaging information on various fields of study. However, the subjects placed on Wikipedia oftentimes are not referenced by trusted parties. As a result, a student using Wikipedia as a point of reference might eventually fail the subject since the foundation of the data provided may be based on contestable data. 

In terms of strengthening one’s relationship, social media has presented itself as an avenue for both the old and the young to find people that they could relate with, regardless of their geographical border, language, profession, social class, or religion. Gone were the days when a person had to go out to meet and make new friends and woo a potential significant other. Nowadays, people only have to search the Internet in a myriad of provided pages to meet their soulmates and potential friends. 

Imagining that you are in Nigeria and you could relate and interact with someone from Brazil and in China, which was but a dream during the 1990s. Now, people have various friends from across the world that they could interact and relate with both professionally and personally, with the limitation of border or even the limited mobility necessitated by COVID-19 pandemic. You only had to click the Internet and search and your loneliness disappears. 

Nonetheless, the opportunity of relating with people provided by social media has since taken a back seat with the introduction of cyberbullying and catfishing. Cyberbullying involves the act of using the social media to render the life of an individual unpleasant. As a result of the introduction of cyberbullying on social media platforms, the rates of suicide has significantly increased, with some parents ostracising their children from engaging the Internet to avoid being cyberbullied. The cyber bulling is not relegated to the average people alone; many celebrities have in one time or the other fallen into the judgmental clutches of cyberbullies, shaming their weight, height, gender, sexual preferences or background. For instance, the renowned Nigerian Afrobeat musician, Seun Kuti, the youngest son of Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Kuti, recently dubbed the First Lady of Nigeria, Aisha Buhari, fat. Although the musician uses the social media as a means of realising his activism, it is still obvious that he deployed the platform to fat-shame the first lady. This case is apparently less compared with the growing rates of cyberbullying among students in Nigerian universities, leading to the rapid growth of depression, anxiety and suicide from them. 

Apart from cyberbullying, catfishing stands as a nefarious tool, which social media has introduced into the lives of people across the world. Catfishing refers to the act of creating fake social media profile with the intent to deceive people. Imagine you just got a text from Amazon from your WhatsApp platform that you have been selected to get the sum of ₦300,000 in in their raffle draw. The text would have entered just when you were desperate and in need of money. All Amazon needs from you is to provide your bank details. Such messages have resulted in people going bankrupt overnight, with them having no knowledge of the people who stole their money. Unfortunately, the instance above is usually an obvious act of fraud when compared with other instances of catfishing. People who engage in catfishing now have to hack into another person’s social media account for them to begin extorting money from their friends and families. The situation is that bad!

Nevertheless, there have been a growing number of people who have attested that but for the presence of social media; they would have remained penniless and jobless. For instance, a social media influencer cannot but say good thing about the possibilities presented by the social media. From building one’s fanbase from one to an astronomical figure to owning an avenue where he or she gets to interact and relate with fans and celebrities; social media, to some people have become nothing short of a breath of sunshine. Also, social media has now broadened the scope of how people engaging in businesses with the introduction of social media marketing, content writing, content management, blogging, gaming, and video sharing done by YouTubers. These numerous possibilities, and more, have made the current state of professionalism to be on a constant state of evolving to meet the needs of people in terms of entertainment, education, connectivity and creation of social awareness. 

However, the opportunities presented by social media also gives room to distractions presented through the availability of sensitive webpages such as, porn sites and gamble sites. It is not surprising that a person now needs to sidestep through numerous eye-catching porn sites pop-ups to gain entrance into their webpages. Imagine that you were only sourcing through Twitter but you now unknowing saw a seemingly innocent site only to click it and find that you are watching porn. It is that easy! There are now a growing number of people who have found themselves hooked on pornography as a result of the sudden pop-ups they had received from the porn sites in the past years. 

Apart from the demerits of pop-ups while using the social media platforms, social media has gradually transformed into an avenue where people have now alienated themselves from physical relationship. There are now a growing number of people who feel that the faceless friends they have gained from social media platforms seems more understanding and easy to relate with than their friends and families. As a result, families now eat their meal in the dinning table with heavily silence since they have gradually grown apart from each other as a result of their increasing use of social media platforms. 

Finally, the opportunities presented from the social media could be both good and bad at the same time. The opportunities create a means for the curious minds to assuage their curiosity in various subjects that cuts across numerous fields. However, discipline and wisdom are needed to for a person not to fall into the nefarious hands of fraudsters and detractors.