About six months ago a photo of teen heartthrob Justin Bieber puffing a marijuana joint was released online on twitter and all hell was let loose.
There were the typical genuine AND hypocritical cries of “shock” and “dismay” over the young man’s behaviour because he was and still is a “role model” to the some kids (which in my opinion says a lot about the parents of those kids). Then there were other seriously sick reactions; A group of morbidly disturbed twitter users started a mock campaign titled “Cut for Bieber” where they encouraged “Bieliebers” (a moniker for fans of the pop star) to cut themselves in protest of Justin’s smoking in order to get him to stop. The trend started and unsurprisingly grew legs and wings and took a whole new turn.
#cut4bieber became the top US trend for a while on twitter. There were scores of pictures (both genuine and fake) of people mutilating themselves with the hashtag #cut4bieber posted on the social media network. The young man eventually apologised and begged people to stop the whole affair.
I cited the example above to highlight the new heights narcissism and obsession have reached since the boom of social networks. We’ve got the big guns: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Youtube, WordPress, Blogger, Chatrooms, amongst others ( we also pay our respects to Myspace and Hi5). There areso many right now, it’s difficult to keep up.
With Twitter, the gap between fans and celebrities has been narrowed to 140 characters; everyone who has an opinion on anything, regardless of how right or wrong; informed
or misinformed, now has a medium to air his views and attract some followership. The attention spans of youths of my generation has been shortened to the interval between the next tweet from any of their followers; kids don’t concentrate in class or on anything else for that matter anymore, heads bowed, fingers moving rapidly over keypads and touchscreens, eschewing reality for the fantasy of social network; people live for comments now on their pictures on Instagram, videos on Youtube or Dailymotion or Vimeo, articles in blogs and so on. Absolutely insane!
Social networks have good points though, after all you’re reading this article on a blog. They have also made the flow of information seamless and instantaneous and it has given everybody with access a forum to express their points of view. However,
the point of this article is to emphasise caution.
The Ugandan dictator Idi Amin once said “There is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech”. To put that statement in context I recall a story I read of a lady who got fired for comments she made about her boss on her facebook page. Was she entitled to her opinions? Yes! Was she free to express them? Yes! Did she suffer for her freedom? Heck Yes!
Meek Mill, a popular rapper was sentenced to 3-6 months in jail, for possibly, posting a picture of himself with a gun on Instagram, an apparent violation of parole or something or the other.
I asked myself, why a person would you bad mouth a boss on Facebook? Didn’t she have a friend whom she could vent her frustrations to in the workplace? Why do it in a platform for the whole world will see it? It’s not news that Companies monitor their employees’ online activity. Even the CIA is on Twitter. So what’s the driving force or need behind a decision like that? Except she was drunk.
OR why would you post a picture of yourself holding an automatic weapon on the biggest photo sharing site on the planet, when you KNOW you’re not supposed to be found in possession of a weapon. To show your fans just how gangster you are?
OR what drives people to ENCOURAGE immature emotionally fragile teenage girls to mutilate themselves and post such pictures for the world to see? For fun? I get some kids do it in private and such kids need help. But on the internet? And in order to get a celebrity who has absolutely no idea you even exist to drop a behaviour trait? Well he did…in the open…what’s to say he isn’t smoking it in the closet? Even if the pictures were fake, ( as it turned out some where ) that someone will go to such lengths to fake such a photograph and feed an internet frenzy that shouldn’t have even started in the first place says a lot about that person.
Ariel Ugorji identifies himself as a mild insomniac, geek, nerd, an audiophile, an avid music lover, Liverpool Fan and an unashamed Christian; with more often than not a completely different point of view on the world and a love for sensible arguments. He Resides in Warri, Nigeria; the land of the sharp and the brave.
To view more of his write ups, please visit his BLOG. You can also share your views with him on twitter @arielugorji.
Do you think that there is more of a bad influence from social media than good? Please share your thoughts.