Honey, Social Media Is Killing The Kids

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Good luck to the brave souls attempting to wear the cloak of “educator” to the next generation of millennials.

In this modern era, tuning into BBC Three to watch Kris Murrin (host) offer tidbits on effective child-rearing practices for your unruly adolescent seems rather hollow — TLC for my American readers.

Millennials are a different breed. Some have gone as far as to describe them as the new “Lost Generation” due to the economic cataclysm they’ve been born into.

Riddled with insatiable college debts, inability to accumulate wealth, crummy wages, and a steady-climbing cost-of-living, they can forget about attaining the financial security of prior generations.

Millennials will continue stumbling through life with poverty’s foot dangling perilously close to their heads.

Oh my fault, there is also a deadly, respiratory virus out to get them!

It’s funny, I came across a funny meme on Instagram of a wearied Ben Affleck, smoking a cigarette with the caption, “90s Kids living through their 10th historical event.”

Funny-sad. Mostly sad!

This streams courteously into the main topic surrounding this piece, Social Media.

90.4% of Milennials are active social media users (Emarketer, 2019).

You’ve long heard my rants about the adverse effects of social media on our whiny yet surprisingly resilient generation. To finally put my annoying jabbers and feeble attempt to promote “The Social Dilemma” to bed, I’ve decided to start the new year with a blog centered around this theme.

Social Media has surged to unparallel heights in recent years, connecting us to millions.

So much so that waves of information about a mob of disgruntled Trump “supporters” laying siege to the Capitol Building would have somehow found its way to you, even if you resided in a cave.

“Terrorists” seem like a more appropriate label to describe these individuals, in which their actions in many ways could be interpreted as a plot to carry out a coup.

Trump used social media to propagate false self-serving narratives, reinforce messages to provide justification for his actions, and mobilize his supporters. Incited to overturn the election results, Trump supporters then rallied in droves, marched on Capitol Hill, and seized a government institution.

Sounds pretty coup-like to me!

Mark Zuckerburg and the team at Facebook has since suspended Trump's social media accounts. Trump no longer has access to Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Shopify, and Google, to name a few.

Google? Who gets banned from Google? Imagine not being able to look sh*t up anymore.

How did a platform that started life as a tool to rate female university students acquire the authority to in effect wipe “The Most Powerful Man on Earth” off the digital sphere?

With such power to influence, has Social Media become inherently dangerous to the future generation?

Breeding Clout-Chasers

“My daddy is a Social Media Influencer.”

Not the conventional vocation you’d expect your child to brag about on “Bring Your Parents to School” day. To think there are individuals who receive millions of dollars to upload pictures and write witty captions?

Perhaps, this is a gross over-simplification.

Social Media has paved the way for some truly remarkable influencers, like Gary Vee who went from being a wine connoisseur to a multi-million dollar digital marketing tycoon. By virtue of his authenticity and brashness, Gary’s messages can be found circulating among millions of social users.

“In modern times, it’s [Clout] evolved to become digital cultural currency”

— Ryan Staake

Of course, there are folks whose sole purpose is to use the internet to get famous for doing dumb sh*t.

Flashback to November 2020 and the much-anticipated release of Sony’s Playstation 5. There was an uproar on social media surrounding the console with everyone looking to get their hands on one.

Soon after, humorous videos of men pretending to be on their best behaviors in the hopes that their partners would be gracious enough to buy them a PS5 became the popular trend.

It was comical to witness people’s creativity.

What was NOT funny, was a video that surfaced of an individual screaming, “No Cap!” as he smashes a newly bought PS5 outside of PC WorldBestBuy for my American readers.

His excuse? He was bored.

It worked. The video went viral and even sat atop the headlines of a reputable gaming magazine.

Wtf?!

Are people really willing to become the magnet of attention at any cost?!

I’d like to think this was merely the action of one deranged individual and does not speak for the true intentions of the general population.

You’d think, but there are countless cases of people’s actions demonstrating their greed for the limelight.

Clout is a zero-sum game. One where you’ll always find yourself on the losing side. If it’s attention, likes, and followers you crave, you will never have enough. In a reversal effect, it signals your insecurities and drives people away.

Sure you’ll gain traction in the beginning, but understand that humans are creatures who quickly grow weary of the same tactics. You will exhaust yourself trying to constantly adapt yourself to the masses.

Don’t believe me?

Google, Boonk Gang!

“Don’t be a public success; but behind closed doors, you’re a private failure.”

— Bryan Loritts

Draining Our Life Battery

Do yourself a favor and navigate to “Settings” on your iPhone X — or Android, if you’re still living in 2005. Now access your average weekly screen-time and make note of the number.

Now, how much of that time is spent on Social Media?

Is it more or less than six hours a day?

Why is this the magic number, Shola? Well, I’m glad you asked.

US adults found spending six hours or more a day in front of a screen exhibited higher risk of depression (Time Magazine, 2017).

Look, I love swiping through cute cat videos on TikTok just as much as the next person.

However, excessive use of social media has adverse effects on our mental health. FOMO, along with feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction, and isolation are common issues. Subsequently, these feelings negatively affect our mood and worsen symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress

Now factor in lockdown restrictions that enforce this self-isolation, leaving us even more entrenched and desperately clamoring for social interaction.

Scary, right?

The funny thing is, we’re ALL in a pandemic. We’re not exactly missing out on much!

The dilemma has even escalated to such a level that when our favorite influencer announces to the world that they’re taking a break away from social media, it’s cause for concern.

Are they okay?!

I often ask myself, what value am I gaining from the time spent in front of the screen. More importantly;

What value am I losing?

Does browsing through a fitness IG page make you hate the way you look? Or does it motivate you to put down that Sainbury’s strawberry jam donut? Always remember that perspective drives performance every day of the week.

“The goal isn’t to eliminate screens from your life; it’s to imbue the time you spend on screens with intentionality.”

— Newport

Warping Our Reality

Everything is judged on appearances; what remains unseen counts for nothing. As a result, we feel compelled to document every facet of our lives through posts on social media.

“I just ate a Bagel”

That’s wonderful, Haleigh. If you didn’t post that, how could we verify that the bagel was real?

I once had a friend send his account into overdraft in order to purchase an outfit for a weekend motive.

“By any means, I must get this fit off for the gram.”

Credit to him, the outfit was a clean drop!

Folks are literally plunging themselves into arrears to maintain a facade. It is as though we are locked in a competition to appear larger, more colorful, and more mysterious than everyone else.

“Don’t go broke trying to look rich.”

You could respond,

“But rich is my favorite look.”

With a world growing increasingly banal, you can be forgiven for wanting to break the mold. Society craves larger than life figures and it certainly pays to assimilate with the famous and flamboyant.

Never be afraid to flaunt the qualities that set you apart, but not at the expense of your integrity.

“Fifteen years ago, the internet was an escape from the real world. Now, the real world is an escape from the internet.”

— Noahtogolpe

In the debate on whether Social Media does more harm than good, the benefits of having platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram just pushes its benefits over the drawbacks.

It would be ludicrous to claim that Social Media is killing the kids.

In social media, there lies a newfound way of expression and communication. One where we have yet to truly explore its full potential. This poses something that is both exhilarating and yet terrifying for the future generation.

Life is short!

Having experienced some tragic passing of some close companions in recent weeks, this was made painfully clear to me. In the end, people won’t remember how many likes you had on a post, or how big your following was.

What remains is the lasting impact you had on the lives of the people around you. How did you make them feel? Like, truly feel!

“You can not cram your character into 250 characters”

— David “Sideman” Whitely

So, be verified in real life.

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Olushola Olojo

Olushola Olojo

Combatting Poverty & Bridging Inequality