It is easy to be startled by how social media is affecting us today. Evidently, alarmist shows that Gen Z’s are handling it worse than the older generation. For Gen Z’s and every other generation that spends time online, social media is a double-edged sword that requires wisdom and moderation. The question always asked about social media pertains whether it is a blessing or a curse. Pope Francis in a message, entitled Communication and Mercy: A fruitful Encounter, for the 50th World Day of Social Communication asserts that, “Social media is a gift from God if used wisely”. This statement affirms that social media is not bad, but it should serve as a tool for the betterment of social friendship in the society. Others also identify social media as a time-waster. A habitual click into Facebook, Twitter or Instagram turns into mindless scrolling and before you know it, an hour or two has passed. This piece seeks to discourse the influence of social media on the Gen Z, is it a blessing or a curse? In addition, this piece creates consciousness on how the Gen Z’s can strike a balance between the positive and negative impact on producing and consuming social media content.
What is social media?
Social media are interactive technologies and digital channels that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, interests, and other forms of expression through virtual communication and networks. Users usually access social media services through web-based apps on desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets. Social media is an interactive form of media that allow users to interact with and publish each other, generally by means of the internet. Some of the most popular social media websites include Facebook, TikTok, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Telegram and many others. Social media is highly accessed now by everybody.
Who are the Gen Z’s?
Gen Z as defined by the Oxford Dictionary is a generation reaching adulthood in the second decade of the 21st century. They are group of people who were born between the late 1990s and the early 2010s. Gen Z’s are colloquially known as “Zoomers”. It is a demographic cohort succeeding millennials. The millennials are those who were born between the 1980s and 1990s. Gen Z is arguable the first generation to have always had access to the internet.
It is truism that Gen Z’s are the youth of today. As the old cliché adage goes, “You are never more alive than when you are a youth”. This is true because when you are a youth you still have more energy to venture into different activities in the society, to socialize and, as Nigerians will call it “to catch cruise”. The Gen Z’s are full with life now; they create relationships from their youthful enthusiasm through the social media. For many Gen Z’s, 1-2 hours spent on social media every day is a means of connecting with people, communicating values, contributing to art, sport, information and beauty to the world. The early 21st century saw a huge increase in social media due to the widespread availability of the internet. The impact of social media on youth with respect to their social lives, self-identity, civic engagement, and media consumption is not an entirely rosy picture.
Social media today has allowed the mass cultural exchange and intercultural communication, as different cultures, have different value system, cultural themes, grammar, and worldviews, so social media. The emergence of social media platforms fused together different cultures and their communication methods, amalgamating various cultural thinking patterns and expression of styles. As social media gain more prominence, Gen Z’s have never known a world without Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram, Snapchat and Tiktok. All this informs the comfort and engagement of Gen z’s, it also influences how brands and marketers engage with this generation as they mature and have increasing purchasing power and influence in the economy.
Nevertheless, the question one will ask is, why are Gen Z’s obsessed about social media? Gen Z’s love social media because it allows them connect and have a positive effect on their self-esteem and friendships. Some are lure into social media because of peer pressure and scared of been left out in the modern discussion in the society. The fear of been left out on discussions about the So-called celebrities, trending videos and music has made many Gen Z’s to follow daily trend on either Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat or Instagram. Also about 80% Gen Z’s wants recognition and cheap fame on social media, which has made them so obsessed with the social media, some go on to produce erotic content on their social media space such as Twerk videos, half-naked photos and other demeaning videos that portray sexual content for recognition and likes on social media. Some Gen Z’s are obsessed with social media because it help them to promote their content such as music, comedy, dance, business, online trading and many other beneficial contents that earns them money. The society today has become more digitalized, that social media has helped in promoting Cryptocurrency and foreign money exchange. Social media has created a vast awareness on the happenings in the world, some world powers use social media to communicate their intentions, politics campaign, and other important matters in the world. One observable thing is that, in as much as many Gen Z’s are obsessed with social media, others are quitting from it.
One will ask; Why are some Gen Z’s quitting from social media? Some reasons why Gen Z’s are quitting social media include, the inclination to waste time on the platforms, too much negative contents, such as nude videos and pictures, hate speeches by so-called celebrities, and too much pressure to gain attention, likes and followers. Some Gen Z’s are been bullied by friends, and the need to protect their mental health makes them quit social media. Hate comments and other demeaning comments has led many Gen Z’s quit social media, the need for approval from the social media space by many Gen Z’s and not getting the proper attention has caused so many Gen Z’s to be depressed, having anxiety attacks, loneliness, self-harm and even suicidal thoughts. Emotionally, multiple studies have shown that unlimited use of social media causes stress, bad moods and negative mental health. It is a thing to note that many Gen Z’s only quit social media temporarily, because one way or the other, the society is connected with the social media space that it becomes almost impossible for a Gen Z to quit social media permanently.
To reckon with all this information, is social media a blessing to the Gen Z’s or something to worry about?
Social media is both a blessing and sometimes can be a curse depending on the person or persons involved. It is like a double edge sword that needs moderation and wisdom as stated earlier. Social media has a huge impact on the lives of the Gen Z’s. Some impact can be positive and others are negative. Positively, it helps you catch up with friends when you cannot meet them, some Gen Z’s share funny memes and videos to catch fun with their friends. It is interesting to note that many relationships by Gen Z’s are because of social media, or it has gained a strong bond by social media. Sometimes, social media can be addictive, it is like a drug, but what makes it particularly addictive is that it is adaptive, when you adapt to it, it becomes almost impossible to live a day without going to it. Health wise, Using electronics before bedtime can lead to a variety of sleep problems, addiction to it affects sleeping pattern of some Gen Z’s. The result could be that students may fall asleep in class or be unable to focus because they are simply too tired. With access on social media at any time of the day, it is easy to fall into bad habit of checking it everywhere, during a meal, in class when a professor is talking, in church, or even in bed when it is time to sleep. In addition, social media stir up the Gen Z’s to compare themselves with others based on false perceptions perpetuated by their content. Many Gen Z’s live what Nigerians will call “Fake Life” on social media. The hours spent on social media, has left so many Gen Z’s to be lazy in studying their books and other genuine academic exercises. The high rate of very low standard of English Writing because of shorthand writing on social media has made many Gen Z’s not to know how to spell words correctly or even make a well constructive sentence without blunders and numerous mistakes. However, amidst all this setbacks caused by the use of social media, I fully reckon that social media is a blessing to humanity. It has created many positive avenues of socializing and it has created jobs, awareness to world happenings and many more.
According to Pope Francis, “Communication, wherever and however it takes place, has opened a broader horizon for many people. It is a gift from God, which involves responsibility. He says, social media can facilitate relationships and promote good society, but they can also lead to polarization and division between individuals and groups. However, Pope Francis also warned of “unfair attacks” that can take place on social media. Buttressing on what the Pontiff is asserts, it shows that social media should not be a place where people feel marginalized or bullied, but rather it should be an avenue of creating and renewing social friendships among people. This piece is creating an awareness to Gen Z’s about the need to consume social media wisely in a way that improve their moral values, and to introspect on how they can use the social media for the betterment of the society and the world at large. Conclusively, Social media has become fundamental to the way that billions of Gen Z’s get information about the world and connect with each other. The biggest experiment around the impact of social media may be the way it is changing society. To us, social media is a blessing, it should be use to keep in touch with friends and loved ones, and it should be an avenue for inspiring and educative contents.
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Prakapiene, Dalia. “The impact of Social media on Intercultural Communication”. Reseach Gate, accessed February 16, 2021.
Catholic Herald 2022. Pope Francis, ‘Text messages and social media are a gift from God”. https://catholicherald.co.uk Accessed February 18, 2022.