Being on the internet has a chain effect that we do not always realize. For most teens, including me, social media has always been an everyday part of life. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are major sources of anxiety. Texting, Facebook, and Twitter are used by teens to remain in constant contact with each other, no matter the distance.
The number of anything you can get on social media is a plus, something to be sought after. Social media is used to create a picture in which normal things such as eating breakfast are exaggerated and taken to an intense level to create a sort of popularity. That normal plastic plate of sukumawiki and ugali is filtered into a burger from Art Café.
In social media, where everyone streams their personal lives for everybody to see, anxieties and difficulties appear with no clear method in eliminating them. While the use of social media should be optional, it has become an alleviating pressure that dominates the majority of teens. The pressure is to be included, to be part of a social circle that is moving at a fast pace and people are left behind all the time.
We live in a world where normal people can commandeer huge audiences in a way that was only available to celebrities at a time. The problem with this is that people validate themselves through this; for many teens, this is what self-worth is. Many teens base their self-worth on how many followers, how many likes, or how many comments they are getting from so called “friends.”
Facebook, in particular, is a site in which people use as a source of validation from their peers. Self-image plays a bigger role in the habits of women then with men; studies show that more women are using this site assert images of self-worth. This study also goes on to suggest that the constant posting of photos act as a form of advertisement.
I went on to ask a few questions on social media and most responses looked like this…
How many friends do you have on Facebook and why?
“I have 4,992 friends and 1,884 followers. Reason is to keep up with trends in fashion and some people are just simply good looking.”
How many accounts do you own? How many likes do you get?
“I have 2 accounts I get around 40 likes on an ordinary day”
How many likes are many likes?
The point of likes?Does it feel good to get likes?
“I don’t know, all I know is that I feel good when many people like my posts when I was new to Facebook. I updated so many times, like after every hour, especially jokes…but now I toned it down because Facebook is now full of people who update hate speeches so as to look cool, and funny enough, many people end up liking those updates esp. if it is a Facebook famous person.”
“Yes, it feels good to get likes, I’d say for most teens it boosts our self-esteem.”
Do you delete posts when they are not “liked?”
“I used to delete posts that never got likes, but I stopped.”
Do you feel pressure to “like” things?
“Yes sometimes I feel pressured to like pictures that have many likes.”
Lastly, your opinion of Facebook Identity theft? Do you blame people who do that?
“I think the main reason why people steal other people’s photos is because they see they are not getting as many likes as their peers hence they have low self-esteem.”
“No, I don’t blame them because they want to fit in with the rest of the ‘cool’ people and want to know how it feels to also get many likes and also to be complimented by guys they feel they don’t have a chance to talk to if they used their own pictures.”
With others having the response of,“I don’t care about Likes. It’s not that I will benefit when anyone likes my photos.”
What is your opinion on people who post photos of as others as themselves?
“I don’t know. I guess it’s the publicity, but I don’t know why people like that either.”
If asked my opinion on the subject, I would say yes, to some extent I do have social media anxiety, due to the fact that my self-confidence has not always been at an all high, but I have recuperated. At a time in my life, likes did validate me, if I didn’t get likes on a photo, bet that it would be gone in an hour or so of zero likes.
My ultimate goal was to get ten likes which was abundant at the time and thought was unattainable, but as time passed twenty became the number, then a hundred and so on…I was getting left behind. Ultimately, I realized that I felt insecure, because I was carrying around the words and judgments I’d SEEN and heard at different points from the real word, but more so a virtual world. As I found more palpable things to validate me, I have found that likes are useless.
I allowed people who held no significance in my life to take from who I am and hinder the person I have come to be. We tend to sometimes give other people’s opinions so much power that we allow it to define us. “It is not always easy to instantly deflect how certain things, like how likes make us feel, but we can search within ourselves to recognize when they become detrimental to who we are.” And thus I have stopped caring about the likes, and comments, in the end “likes” really are not equivalent to being liked, and “friends” really are not friends. Trust me, I would know.
P.S. There is nothing wrong with posting your ugali, matoke, githeri, mukimo etc. For what it’s worth, you will get a like from me!