By Jo Lynn Chong
The social network is so prevalent nowadays that we cannot really imagine a world without it. What would we be doing if there was no WhatsApp or YouTube or Facebook or Instagram?
Ipoh Echo sought the views of young social media users to find out how the world of social media has impacted them.
Most of the interviewees stated that they cannot live without social media with some of the reasons being for entertainment and connecting with friends or family members living afar.
Some of them explained that although social media platforms may have caused them to change the way they look at themselves and be envious of what other people were doing or having, it is not necessarily a bad thing.
Elaine, 17, who spends approximately 7 hours per day on social platforms stated, “I wouldn’t say it is totally negative, like loss of self-confidence but it is also some sort of motivation for me to be better when I see someone posting a nice picture or someone who is prettier.”
“I’d be envious and then, try to learn from other people’s selfie-taking skills. I can live without social media but I’d rather not because it’s this generation’s way of reading news,” a 17-year-old Ipohite expressed.
“I used to set unrealistic expectations for myself after looking at the Instagram feeds of people I admired,” said Foo Siew Jack, 18. He intimated that given a choice, he would rather communicate with someone face-to-face. “I have a lot to thank social media because it has made me a more global citizen and just more intelligent in general but I’ve also a lot to criticise about it as I’ve had bad experiences. But I consider them just a part of the modern human experience.”
Another 19-year-old Ipohite told Ipoh Echo that when he first started using social media, he suffered from loss of self-esteem and FOMO which stands for “Fear of Missing Out” and defined as “a feeling of worry that an interesting or exciting event is happening somewhere else” by the Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries. “Now I no longer suffer from those as I’ve come to know true people,” he enthused. “I also discovered that social media photos never represented real life.”
“Using social media can allow one to rethink the words they want to use aloud without fear of being overheard by the other person whilst face-to-face communication is more personal and easier to speak out ideas rather than typing all of it down,” another 16-year-old Ipoh boy elaborated.
Bonnie Wong, 16, stated, “Social media has made me less focused when I study as it makes me want to look at my phone and procrastinate. Nevertheless, I’d rather use social media over face-to-face communication because I am not very good at communicating and I can express myself better when I am given time to think.”
Social media, however, can also be a notorious place as we further uncovered.
A 20-year-old Ipohite shared, “I was cyberbullied through an app where people anonymously talked bad about me. It took me quite some time to gain back my confidence because I got an anxiety attack. I fear going out and facing others because of the things they said to me. I’m still suffering from the anxiety which disturbs my life like I cannot focus on small things or even big things, so like right now, even to tell you about the event is hard for me,” she told this scribe.
“My advice about it is that if you don’t like something or if you are just not satisfied with something, don’t judge someone straight away and talk bad about them, even if it’s anonymously or not. It’s just not a good thing to do and not the right way. Plus, talking behind the screen doesn’t make you any better than anybody else,” she asserted.
When asked about how she would react when she saw someone else posting nicer photos or selfies than her, the 20-year-old said, “I’d feel insecure because they’re better than me and because I’ve very low self-esteem.”
“I’d prefer face-to-face communication because I get to read their facial expressions, whether that person is sad or mad and I don’t misunderstand them easily,” she added.
Besides that, it is worth mentioning that one can receive nasty negative comments on online posts. In the event that they encountered negative comments, most of the interviewees said that they would ignore them. A few said they would feel angry and unhappy.
There is really not much to say but to emphasise that we need to be aware of the good, the bad and the ugly of social networking.
Meanwhile, an article “ChickTok: Indonesian kids given pets to wean them off smartphones” published by The Star on November 22, 2019, stated, “BANDUNG, Indonesia: Officials in one Indonesian city have hatched a plan to wean children off smartphones – by giving them their own fluffy chicks to raise.”
Well, perhaps what we all need is a little distraction once in a while.