In Summary

Loosing our identity A number of people have now resorted to seeking approval and advise from social media and Carol B. Atangaza writes how this, among other habits, is eroding our identity

It’s no question that in moderation, social media with its ability to bring millions of people together is one of the greatest inventions of our times.

Platforms like Facebook are not only a source of entertainment and information but they also give us a chance to indulge in the ingrained human desire to talk about ourselves.
As we engage with our virtual friends under our assumed identities, we are able to disconnect from our harsh lives and escape our problems for a little while.

With each like, follower, comment, share or retweet we feel gratified by the fact that someone out there notices us, admires us and thinks enough of our posts which works wonders for our esteem.
It is also a lucrative source of income for online businesses and a skilled social media user has more sway in the employment field.
The problem however, comes when we become so dependent and lose our true identities in the assumed virtual ones.

It has been proved to create short attention spans, impersonal barbaric behavior (aka trolling) because social media panders to those that craving for instant gratification and have no time for serious thinking or boning up on substance.

Take this post for instance “AM HALF DEAD HALF ALIIVE SEEKING HELP. I have a serious endless flow of blood and pus from my uterus. It all started as periods but a month passed and they were not stopping it’s now two weeks and pus and small maggots are coming out. I’m slowly rotting with my eyes open.” The post goes on and on about her horrible situation and finally asks for assistance. My mind fails to grasp how an adult human being can ever think that this is okay.

You have larvae and chunks of your flesh coming out of you and instead of going to the next medical centre, you think about Facebook? Honestly, if this is not lunacy then I don’t know what is.
With prolonged use we have suspended individual introspection and cognitive abilities in favour of group thinking. We are unable to form or trust our own decision even on matters of deep intimacy or of life and death without other people’s approval or validation and the more information, approval and validation we have, the more we feel the need to get more ideas from someone else, we don’t need to use our own heads we will just see what someone else says.

How can we truly know who we are when the idea we have of ourselves is from people who would barely recognise us if we met physically? Many of us are in so deep we don’t realise social media’s delusional powers and the impact it has on our lives.

We like to praise social media for cultivating relationships and friendships but how much of those relationships are actually real? We are under the illusion that we know our so called friends but just how much of them do we know?

Would the so called friendship survive without the veneer with which we cover ourselves on social media? We no longer know how to relate with our own children, parents, spouses without the help of our “friends”.

For a long time, I thought the statement “I don’t’ know how I should feel about this” was just posted in jest but I have come to truly believe that these people are actually desperately in need of a “friend” to prompt them to how they should feel. But once you have been prompted how to feel, do those feelings become yours? Do they perform the same psychological functions as genuine individual feelings?

We are misled by the number of followers and friends to think that we are part of a large vibrant community but if you have ever been locked out of your house at 3am, or stranded without means of communication, then you would wake up to the reality that the only way to be part of any community is to live life with real people in real time.