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Social media as a double-edged sword

“Social media is like a bad marriage that never ends in divorce” — Charles Onyango-Obbo

At the beginning of his career, 20-year old Ivan Nkusi got a chance to work with big stars such as Ric Hassan and Korede Bello all through social media platforms. Even with such a strong kickastart in his career, he is still facing the ups and downs that come with being active on social media.

Ivan Nkusi also known as Yivani, started using social media in 2016 for the same reasons everyone else was; posting pictures, interacting with friends and simply scrolling through the explore page until he got turned off his screen. 

He did so until 2019 when he decided to get serious about his artistry and started posting and sharing his music on his socials. He started getting feedback from people all around the world.

Nkusi says he was “getting texts from people in Ghana, Nigeria and Tahiti who loved my music.”

He says that this made him see social media in a positive light particularly when it came to his music because it had given him exposure.

In our conversation, Nkusi continued to say that through social media, he would get booked to do gigs.

He went on saying, “Social media has ups and downs; one day your post gets a lot of likes and people are sharing it all over and other days you feel invisible.” 

“This rollercoaster ended in me deleting my accounts and now I’m starting from scratch,” Nkusi recounted.  

Like this young socialite, social media has become a tool for different people in different careers to reach a wide range of audience from all over the world, allowing them to develop and grow as people and professionals. 

Not only Nkusi but many other Rwandans have resorted to using social media as a business marketing strategy. They have seen that it can be an asset in this generation. 

Lidia Urujeni, a young entrepreneur uses social media to advertise her beauty products composed of makeup and other things; this has greatly contributed to the success of her small business. 

“I can advertise my products on social media and reach to a lot more clients than I normally could have. Some people reach out to me just because they have seen my products on different posts made by certain influencers.”  

Mudahemuka, another social media user says that by just posting her selfies and pictures, she was able to gain a lot of followers and therefore got contacted by advertisers. 

“You know, I can just post a picture wearing a certain thing and people will want to buy it and the brand just pays me to make the post,” she says.  

Posting on social media has now become a form of profession

People’s influence on others earns them success, money and fame, but once the likes and followers stop, their social media world slowly crumbles.

On different social media platforms, people, particularly young ones are building their profiles and careers and earning money.

Upcoming artists are releasing their work on different platforms and making it big, doctors are sharing their expertise and some other professionals are sharing tips and motivations to help their audience. 

The birth of dating apps connecting people from all over the world for romantic relationships, online dating and long distance relationships were made possible.

Young girls and boys are getting paid for creating content and advertising for different brands.

But like what happened to Ivan Nkusi, it is possible that as you watch your success hit its peak, you can also watch it drop and hit the ground hard.

“It is not easy to see what you built for so long get destroyed so easily, but this is the con of social media,” he says.

Today, you are the talk of the town but tomorrow you are only yesterday’s news. There is a pressure to create something new, to be the first at something not the best but the very first.

The anxiety that comes with not getting enough likes, stressing over the Verified tick on your social media, allowing yourself to only be validated by people who most likely don’t know you or even care for you is suffocating…

You feel the pressure to stay in character once the camera starts rolling or live a life that you cannot afford. 

Like Mudahemuka, many get trapped into endless loops of pretending to be who they are not or having to maintain a certain lifestyle. 

“People will expect you to be picture perfect all the time, they will expect you not to gain any weight or lose any like the person they see on social media,” she said 

“They want to see the personality on social media, a personality that entertains them long enough to keep their attention; sometimes it just drains you.”  

Social media has tangled people in endless hypnotism, they feel like their lives revolve around it. They have to take pictures everywhere; they have to snap everything and they have to post–it is a must!

Children are now being raised on social platforms and being exposed to different situations before they are mature.

A lot of people have forgotten how to make emotional connections; emojis have been made a new language and people are openly hostile to each other. 

“The bullying never stops. Whatever you do, it will never stop. You only have to be positive and be yourself, also be cautious of what you put out there because you never know if it might not ruin your life,” Mudahemuka said.  

Yes, social media is a good weapon, but the knife is also dangerous depending on where it is facing.

A person on the other end of a screen going through their comments and gaining body issues and another who is getting body positivity messages will see social media differently.

Having a space to freely advocate for changes we wish to see in our environment, starting with our planet on climate change and teaching or learning about different things in the world from the comfort of your couch at home is what social media should be about.

In this generation social media has become a tool and a weapon

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