Hey everyone! Welcome to Day 6 (Day 1 for me) of the Afrobloggers challenge. Today we dive into the world of social media and I tell you a little bit of my social media journey and a few lessons I have learnt along the way.
The first social media platform I joined was Facebook. My mom didn’t want me on social media until she felt I was old enough and honestly I didn’t understand why because all my friends had Facebook accounts. So what did I do? I joined anyway. I created an account and I guess I didn’t understand how social media connects people but my mother found the account and made me go through it with her.
Now, when your parents, African parents at least, ask you to go through something of yours with them, knowing very well they have already gone through it, then know things won’t end well. So she called me to “the couch” and we sat right next to each other. I had no idea what was going until she took out her phone and the first thing I saw was the Facebook logo. I knew right there and then I was done. She went through my friends list and clicked on one particular boy who I didn’t know personally. I was so trigger happy when I created the account that I was just accepting every friend request and sending everyone friend requests. So she clicked on this boy’s account and went to a particular post where he listed 10 of his favourite things. Something in those lines. I kid you not, that boy listed everything from sex, to girls to alcohol at the top of his list and then put God towards the end of the list. I know for sure God wasn’t last on the list because I remember thinking to myself, “Hey! At least he is not last.”
You can imagine how bad that looked for me as a young girl. I don’t remember exactly how old I was then but definitely 12 or less. It was a mess. I had no explanation as to why I was friends with someone who was a teenager and his top favourite things were sex, girls and alcohol. I couldn’t even explain the fact that I had no idea who he was and it was my first time seeing that list because no one was about to hear that. Long story short, that account got deleted and the next time I made a Facebook account, my mom found it again and sent me a request but this time I was old enough so it wasn’t a problem.
I have gotten in trouble a few times because of social media but as I grew up, I learnt how to use it wisely and correctly. Social media has so many downsides but if used correctly it can be a learning platform, a place to keep you updated with what’s going on in the world and of course a platform to keep you connected with friends you don’t really talk to anymore but still want to be involved in each other’s lives somehow by liking or commenting under their pictures. Today, I’m going to be sharing four things I have learnt on social media and I hope you can add yours too. What I’m going to share are things that are relatable to real life situations and mostly to do with personal growth.
- It’s not just social media– The first thing I have learnt is that social media is not just a playground or a place to just throw your random thoughts or rant. People have made life changing connections on social media. People have been scouted for huge career opportunities through social media. You never know who is watching your profile. These days, a lot of people are using social media as a place to make money through marketing posts like the Instagram paid promotion. People have gotten brand deals just because of the photos they post! So one thing I have learnt is not to take it lightly because my career breakthrough or whatever it may be could be on social media. So, don’t just post cute pictures and go but try to find ways to use it in such a way that it helps your life away from social media.
- Hashtags are not just hashtags– A few years ago you would have found me loudly condemning the use of hashtags for certain causes because I felt like they didn’t really do anything to help the cause. Forgive me. I was an uneducated young girl. Today, I am fully aware that hashtags aren’t just hashtags. They are usually the beginning of something. I’ll give an example of #BlackLivesMatter. Many people only know about police brutality and racial discrimination against black people today because of this hashtag. Of course, work still needs to be done outside the hashtag and outside social media which is why we have people protesting today all over the world. Certain hashtags raise awareness and I’ve learnt about so many things because I came across a hashtag that made me look for more information about a particular topic.
- Use words wisely– How you phrase your words, how you bring out your opinion and how you interact with people matters not only on social media but in the real world too. This is another huge lesson I have learnt on social media. The ability of a human being to twist what you said or meant because of misinterpretation is mind-blowing. I have seen things on social media go from 0 to 100 simply because someone either misinterpreted a tweet or didn’t explain themselves correctly. This usually ends in a bunch of insults and name calling. It can get really ugly sometimes. So an important thing to do is make sure you say things the right way to avoid being misinterpreted. Also, read the room before you make certain comments or give your opinion on sensitive topics. Your opinion matters but your opinion can be useless if it isn’t properly thought through. I think I can also squeeze in the fact that if you are not educated on a certain topic, please refrain from giving your 2 cents lest you expose your ignorance. Instead, go and read, educate yourself and then speak. Be careful with what you say. You are interacting with another human being who has emotions just as you do. This can be applied in real life to.
- Not everyone is on your team– With this one, you could be the victim or the instigator of hate comments. Personally, I have not experienced hate comments or anything like that because my social media presence isn’t the best but, I’ve seen this happen to other people. There are people who will give you constructive criticism like giving you pointers on things you could improve while still appreciating the work you do. Then there is another group of people that you will never please. There job is to constantly bash your work. They never have anything nice to say but they are on your case 24/7 and are on every single one of your posts. Those are what people call trolls. There are trolls in real life and trolls on social media. You need to learn and understand that if you’re going to put yourself out there, you are setting yourself up for unsolicited advice sometimes. Never let these things get to you. Just focus on the positive and constructive parts of everything. Just like in real life, some people won’t be happy for you when you achieve your goals, just ignore them and focus on those who actually support you and want the best for you. If you are reading this and you know the comments you leave are not helpful but are hurtful instead, look at your life and figure out what’s missing or just take that energy elsewhere.
- I am different and that’s okay– Bonus! Social media can be demanding sometimes. If you are not fully self confident or self aware, it can be depressing too. Instagram especially. However, I’m grateful that it presents an opportunity for me to see people from all over the world. Sometimes I have looked at people’s pictures and wondered, “Why don’t I have a body like hers” or “Why don’t I have this”. It really exposed insecurities I didn’t know I had and I’m glad that happened because then I was able to grow from them and learn from them. It’s a work in progress. The final thing I’ve learnt on social media is that I’m different and there is beauty in that. The world wouldn’t be fun if we all had the same bodies, the same hair, the same personalities and the same things.
Those are a few things I have learnt on social media. What have you learnt on social media?
Stay safe and practice social distancing. Black lives matter. Stop Sexual Abuse.
Thanks for reading!