Connected But Alone: The Paradox of Social Media

By Wonderful Adegoke

The fact that social media can give an illusion of connection without the actual benefits of face-to-face interaction dates back to its origin traceable to the early days of the internet, when people began using online message boards and chat rooms to connect with others.

Social media has on several occasions been lauded for facilitating self-expression, self-identity and self-discovery, as well as providing a platform for youths to discover themselves and build a community of like-minded individuals due to its trusted capability of connecting to the virtual world thus bringing a powerful sense of community acceptance and validation.

Despite adherence to analysts common saying 'information wants to be free', people from several races have learnt about their rights and responsibilities around privacy and data security, while the reverberated groans from users who can vividly attest to its weak security and privacy controls has never ceased.

Having held companies and governmental organizations accountable for their actions regarding data security and privacy, its priceless impact in building communities that share information and best practices around privacy and data security is becoming deliquescent as large amounts of personal data stored on media platforms has been looted on breeding grounds for cybercrimes such as identity theft and phishing, while media companies have had their users data sold or shared with third parties without users' knowledge or consent.

Its potential ability to increase self-esteem, improve sense of belonging and enhance connection has been validated by numerous research conducted at various times, while the access granted to mental health resources such as support groups, educational materials and availed opportunities for self care by following positive accounts and engaging in creative activities can be widely attested to.

Having provided space for creative expression and catharsis, the fulgent patterns of loneliness, disconnection, stress, anxiety, cyber bullying and online harassment has affirmed the reclusive lifestyle Sherry Turkle depicted.

Though, it is widely believed to have perpetuated unhealthy body image ideas, this double-edged sword known for connecting people has in recent times isolated many, initiated a false comparison and set unrealistic expectations in the curated lives presented.

Amidst fostering academic collaborations, it has helped increase scholarship opportunities, research visibility, transparency and accountability in academia, while the eroded boundaries between personal and professional lives has suck life out of interactions, catalyzed plagiarism, diminished self-esteem, amplified bias and created echo chambers that has detained critical thinkers.

In recent years, social media has revolutionized the way journalists report news. By connecting with sources and audiences directly, it has helped to democratize the media landscape and diversify the voices represented in the news. It has also opened up new avenues for investigative reporting, crowd-sourcing, and collaborative reporting.

Trust and credibility has been built, feedback and interactions with readers has ignited confidentiality. These positive impacts of social media on journalism helped to make the media more representative of the diversity of society, and has led to greater transparency and accountability in the news.

In Nigeria, the impact of social media on journalism has been mixed. On the positive side, social media has been a valuable tool for journalists to connect with sources and report on stories that might otherwise go unreported. However, social media has also been criticized for facilitating the spread of fake news and misinformation, and for contributing to political polarization.

The 2017 study by the University of Ibadan found that while social media has helped journalists to source and verify information, it has also contributed to a culture of sensationalism and reduced attention span. The study titled "Social Media and Journalism in Nigeria 'Impact, challenges and way forward" was based on interviews with Journalists and media practitioners in Nigeria.

The study indicated the decrease in the credibility of Nigerian journalists, as well as an increase in threats and online harassments. The study also found that while social media has been a powerful tool for breaking news, it has also led to a reduction in the quality of journalism due to a lack of fact checking and a preference for 'clickbait' headlines.

The fast-paced nature of social media has led to a rise in 'clickbait' headlines that focus on sensationalism rather than accuracy. The use of social media as a news source has led to the spread of 'fake news' and misinformation, which has eroded trust in journalism and created a hostile online environment for journalists. Additionally, the rise of "trolls" and online harassment has made it more difficult for journalists to do their jobs and has even led to physical threats.

The 2019 report by the International Press Institute revealed the severity of the negative impacts of social media on Journalism in Nigeria. The report based on interviews with Journalists, media organizations, and civil society groups in the country reflected the difficulties and dangers faced by journalists in Nigeria, and the need for greater protections and support for those working in the media.

Many journalists in the country have faced abuse, intimidation, and violence, both online and offline, as a result of their reporting. This has led to self-censorship and a chilling effect on the free press in Nigeria. In some cases, journalists have even been killed or abducted in connection with their work.

Adekunle Famuyiwa

An avid writer, campus Journalist, researcher and budding Lawyer. Currently a 500-level student of Law at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun state, and the Editor-In-Chief of Observers Mag

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post

Contact Form