By Vivian Atavom Anyebugum (Student, Ghana Institute of Journalism)

People have said that they would rather die than live without social media in our world today. Just like food, shelter, clothing and water, social media is now considered a necessity of life. This is because almost everything we do revolves around social media. Our chats, stories, works, ideas, images amongst others are on social media.  The number of social media users keeps increasing daily.  We get to laugh, cry, learn and interact on social media with people from far and near. Will it then be wrong to call social media a necessity of life?

According to a J.H.S teacher at the Ahafo region of Ghana, social media makes his work easier and faster and he cannot really do without it. “Instead of writing a letter and sending it to a fellow teacher through the post office, I will simply text her on WhatsApp”, he said.

People use social media for different reasons. Some of these reasons are tangible, others are intangible. There are people who have become addicts to social media because they use it more frequently and they find it difficult living a second of their lives without social media. A student had this to say: “social media helps me get access to more academic materials for studies but it is time consuming because I end up visiting more than one platform viewing other unrelated stuffs”, she said. Our interactions with friends and family have been made easier and better by social media.  Therefore, it is very interesting to say that human life revolves around social media now.

A few people expressed their views on the topic through an online interview session with a student journalist, Vivian Atavom Anyebugum:

“I use social media everyday right from morning to evening”, said a student of KNUST. “I have four social media accounts and use all of them throughout the day every day.”

A community nurse said she is a Christian and when she wakes up the very first activity for her day is prayer. But she wakes up sometimes and the first thing she does is to pick up her phone to check for new updates on social media. “Social media is now like a ‘god’ to me because I end up spending the first time on social media from the moment I wake up instead of spending time with God”, she said. “I always hear my pastor say that anything that takes the first place in one’s life is a god to the person and is worshipped more than God so it is really making me feel guilty right now or making me not stand right with God.”

Social media is used by millions of people every day. Social media refers to a collective term for websites and applications that focus on communication, interaction, content sharing and collaboration. Some people use social media applications to network and find career opportunities, connect with people around the globe with similar interests and share their own thoughts, feelings and ideas. There are several social media applications or platforms including, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, amongst others. All these platforms have a large number of people using them for various reasons.

Almost everything we do can be seen, heard or gotten from social media.  We learn, have fun, get updates and chat with friends and family on social media. All you need is a smartphone, a good data connection, a social media account and/ or someone’s contact.  We really keep wondering how life would have been without social media!

Despite the fact that social media is so helpful it can be very dangerous too. In our world today, it is very common to see children using social media. And there are some contents on these platforms that are not meant for their consumption, like pornographic and violent contents. As the future leaders of their various countries, these contents can badly affect them as they can easily practice them in their own space, even without the knowledge of their parents or guardians.

We also have scammers on social media who just wish to get everything they need or want by hook or crook, making social media usage a threat. Also, one needs to constantly buy data before he can access social media, which can be very expensive.

Most people post their pictures and other contents on social media. Sometimes, if one’s posts gets a few likes than others, they tend to degrade themselves with all the bad words or adjectives one can think of. Other people have fake social media profiles while others are really real. The situation makes life on social media weird because you cannot fully trust people unless you know them personally. Nevertheless, social media is a nice place to be because it makes global and distant interactions possible. In fact, social media and us are inseparable despite the shortcomings.

It is an indisputable fact that sometime we spend much time than we expect on social media. Social media gets us updated with news and current events. This is so necessary because we need to be informed so we will not be left behind. It is obvious that most news making agencies, including radio and TV stations and the print media have social media platforms where they share news updates with their audience. Business people advertise and promote their products and services on social media. This is the power social media carries and most people actually say that living their lives without social media would deprive them of vital information, make their lives miserable, stressful and boring.

Social media and Us can best be described as what the economists call “complementary goods”, one cannot survive without the other. Therefore, Social media and Us are forever inseparable and our relationship is going to grow stronger and deeper as the world keeps advancing.  With that notwithstanding, we ought to be mindful of what we do on social media so as to make sure it benefits everyone. One interesting thing we must know is that Social Media does not and can never control us. We control Social Media and everything that happens there. Before you actually post anything on social media, you must THINK. THINK refers to whether the message or whatever you do is Truthful, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and Kind. When we practice this, social media would be devoid of all ills and we would enjoy it more. It is “Us and Social Media” and “Social Media” and “Us” forever!