“Once I did bad and that I heard ever; twice I did good, but that I heard never.” Do you remember this famous quote by Dale Carnegie which highlights the tendency of people to only recognize the weaknesses of others and not acknowledge their strengths? Well, social media too has fallen a victim, since most people have chosen to view it in a negative light. Parents scold their children and warn them to keep off social media because it corrupts their minds. Teachers tell their students how it can make them have bad grades in school. And pastors tell their congregation that it is a tool used by the Devil to distract children of God. However, I’d like you to follow me- and let me take you to the bright side.
It’s no news that a lot of people battle with depression and need someone they can talk to, but most of the time it seems no one is readily available- and such situations could result in suicide. Suicide is a major cause of death globally and according to the World Health Organization, in the year 2019, approximately 1.53 million people will die from suicide. However, social media enables people to share their experiences with those who will listen to what they have to say, and hopefully, help solve any problems they might be having. And I must say this has met with success to a fairly large extent. Suicidal intervention on social media has saved many lives on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Facebook, for example, assisted by Dr. Dan Reidenburg of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, uses an algorithm to track down buzzwords and phrases that are commonly associated with suicide, and has reportedly intervened in over 3,500 cases. The algorithm supposedly tracks buzzwords and phrases associated with suicide and an alert is sent to Facebook’s Safety Center.
Also, social media has given underrepresented people the power to get their voices heard by sharing photos, videos and other means, which will keep people from all over the world well-informed of the latest happenings in a particular place. A good example is hashtag activism, which has helped to spread the news of social issues like racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination to all parts of the world. #BlackLivesMatter, #BringBackOurGirls, #HeForShe, #IStandWithAhmed, #SayNoToXenophobia, #ChildNotBride and #YesAllWomen are all examples of hashtags used to create awareness and rally for change. Furthermore, through social media, many NGOs have arisen, with the aim of helping the less privileged such as disabled people and orphans. Chi-family, founded by a Nigerian woman Chioma Ngaikedi, is an example of an NGO which has its base on Facebook and helps cater for the needy.
Social media helps put you in touch with people, who you have lots in common with, and that common ground is often the starting point to great accomplishments. Facebook, for instance, asks you to list who and what you are interested in right from the beginning when you sign up. If you are an aspiring musician, you can get to meet with established people in that field, who will listen to your songs, offer some advice, and help you get to where you are going. A friend of mine Kamsi, a writer, used to write stories and poems and beg his friends to read them; it was not really a success. But with the existence of Facebook groups such as Words, Rhymes and Rhythm, Writers Helping Writers, Writers and Readers Unite, he was able to connect with thousands of people, who shared similar interests, and they helped provide a vast audience for his write-ups. Presently, he has won several awards for his writing.
You know how expensive it is to pay TV and radio houses, so that they can help you advertise your business. But social networking allows you to reach out to potential customers without spending excessively. With just a hundred naira, you can subscribe your phone and log in to your LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter account. You have probably heard someone say, “I’m going to Uber it home tonight.” This phrase wasn’t coined by the company; it came about because of social media. JetBlue Airways is another success story when it comes to social media promotion. Well, even if you are not an established businessperson yet, you can still market yourself for sure. I have several friends who bake, cook, deal on clothes and the rest who advertise their products and services on their Facebook timeline. You too can follow their footsteps and who knows, you could become the next Colonel Sanders.
Anything whatsoever can be used to the benefit or detriment of people; it’s left to us to decide which way to use it. With the aforementioned points, there’s no asking if social media has put a smile on people’s faces. You can share in the benefits too if you wish to- the choice is yours. You may want to ask how I came to know about NUHA blogging prize. Well, the answer is simple- someone shared the link on Facebook and I took advantage of the opportunity. If I end up winning, won’t I have social media to thank for providing me with such opportunity? What more evidence do you need to convince you that social media is one of the best things to emerge in your lifetime?