By: Richard Fiebor/www.africanakua.com, Ghana.
MORAL DECLINE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
What could the vibe of the 21st Century have been in the absence of the internet or smart devices?
What else could we agree more on than to accept the fact that the internet and the devices with which it comes at a very fast space (on a daily basis) is what makes the 21st century very thrilling and outstanding?
Let’s assume you are a participant in a seminar or a training programme and the facilitator begins talking about the Modern Era. Quickly, you ought to have a clear understanding about when the modern era began and what characterizes it. One thing that jumps at you is ‘computers and social media’.
We are living in the 21st century, a smaller era of the MODERN ERA!!!
In the 21st century, technology has completely revolutionized the way we live our lives. It has reinvented the way we work, learn, shop and how we are entertained (Andain & Murphy, 2008). (https://learner21stcentury.wordpress.com/characteristics-of-a-21st-century-learner/)
That is why the people of this era use cellular phones, computers and iPads. We are all technology savvy and we want to be in touch with friends at all times online. So, we are all on Facebook, whatsApp, Tumblr, Snap Chat, Tik-Tok, Instagram, E-Mails, Linked-In, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, Yelp, TripAdvisor etc. Collectively, all these apps and websites are called social media.
However, a lot of things are going wrong on social media. We would learn a bit about some of the prominently wrong things that occur on SOCIAL MEDIA in this article.
Meanwhile, let us do some recap of the historical eras.
You have probably heard about various historical eras: The Ancient Period (3600 – 500 AD); The Middle Ages (500 – 1500) and The Modern Era (1500 – Present).
All these specific time frames uniquely have their characteristics. For example the Great Depression which occurred in the 1930s was characterized by Economic Depression, Unemployment, Poverty, and General Hopelessness among people.
The 1920s, unlike the 1930s, was a lively decade characterized by prosperity, modernity, technological advances, entertainment and a rebellion against traditional values.
The Modern Era has all kinds of smaller eras, like the Age of Discovery (spanning the 15th-17th century) and the Enlightenment (in the 18th century).
The Age of Discovery was characterized by global exploration, particularly in the New World. The Enlightenment was characterized by an emphasis on reason, individualism, humanism, tolerance, and a skepticism of religious tradition. Now let us jump to the 21st Century from the 18th Century.
The 21st (twenty-first) century is the current century of the Anno Domini era in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. It began on January 1, 2001, and will end on December 31, 2100. It is the first century of the 3rd millennium. One of the characteristics of the 21st century is Technology Literacy. [Definition from google]
WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA?
Social Media refers to websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. It allows users to quickly create and share content with the public.
Social Media is unique because it is both broad and relatively uncensored.
TYPES OF SOCIAL MEDIA:
Social networks specialize in connecting and exchanging thoughts, ideas, and content with other users—often with users who share tastes and interests. Facebook and Twitter are examples of social networks. Though more professional than others, Linked-In may be considered a social network, as well.
As opposed to social networks, which specialize in letting users share and exchange raw thoughts and ideas, media networks specialize in distributing content like photographs and videos. Instagram and YouTube are examples of this. A YouTube user, for example, will upload a video they’ve created, and other users can “like,” “dislike,” or comment on the video. If they enjoy the video enough, a user may choose to “subscribe” to the creator, so that new videos from that creator appear in their feed.
Discussion networks like Reddit are the ideal outlet for posts that can spark in-depth discussion among users. Users can leave detailed responses in the comment section, and other users can respond directly to those comments, allowing for conversations to grow and develop organically.
Review networks like Yelp and TripAdvisor add social media aspects to user reviews of products and services. Users can interact directly with those leaving reviews, as can the businesses being reviewed.
Hashtags are a very unique aspect of social media usage. The use of hashtags on social media allows users to connect with strangers who are sharing content related to a topic of interest.
Indeed, social media is one of the greatest miracles that has happened to humanity.
THE MORAL DECLINE ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
Again, there is a sharp deviation and corruption of our value systems on social media.
On social media people are preying on other users to get into their bank accounts, get nude pictures and disrespect persons that on a normal day, they cannot even stand in a face-to-face conversation.
The fact is that we are all being manipulated by systems that are observing us constantly and are subtly influencing us to behave in a certain way.
Jaron Lanier once said in an interview that “The founders of Silicon-Valley-expanding-empires like facebook have publicly declared that they intentionally included addictive schemes in their designs” so that we are all addicted and chemically hooked to social media. Social media is a reality and it has come to stay.
First of all social Media has created room for people to be disrespectful to other users. Netizens could freely use abusive language on persons in authority and at institutions. For example on live streaming radio/TV programs in Ghana, a contributor to a show could send in a text message like the one in the next sentence as their opinion on a matter:
“GHANA IMMIGRATION AND GHANA POLICE ARE THE MOST USELESS IN THE WORLD.”
Sometimes, such messages are directed at Ministers of state and even at the President. Other examples include some rebellious final year students in various Senior High Schools in Ghana who publicly rained insults on the President on social media because they were not allowed to indulge in examination mal-practice during their WASSCE. Mention could be made of Afia Schwarzenegar (Slay Queen/TV Host), Tracy Boakye (Slay Queen and Social Media Influencer) and Hon. Kennedy Agyapong (A Member of Parliament) incidents where they threw tantrums at themselves on social media. The case of A- Plus (A celebrated Musician) and Hon Kodjo-Oppong Nkrumah (A Member of Parliament) could also not be left out.
2. CYBER CRIME, FRAUD AND IMPERSONATION
Some criminal netizens impersonate prominent people on social media to take undue advantage of their followers. Social Media impersonation occurs when a page or user is created to look or appear as though it is the legitimate social media page of an original user.
For example, popular Nigerian Prophet, T.B Joshua has always warned viewers of his Emmanuel TV channel to be wary of hackers on social networks facebook and Twitter who try to leverage on his popularity to extort money from them.
Another story worth sharing is that of Nigerian Instagram Celebrity, Ramon Abbas, popularly known as Hushpuppi. Hushpuppi is alleged to be the leader of a group that facilitates computer intrusion, Business E-mail Compromise (BEC) fraud and money laundering online. He is standing trial in an American Court in California as his trial begins on October 13, 2020.
Again on 26th May, 2020 Ghanaian news portal www.myjoyonline.com published a news report captioned “2 Nigerians Allegedly Impersonate 20 Ghanaian Ministers”. The impersonator is Vivian Sadija Imran who allegedly impersonates about 20 ministers of state to defraud more than 500 Ghanaians of over GHC 100, 000. Her 24 year old husband Joel Prince who is at large, is her accomplice. They convinced their victims about getting jobs for them at state institutions.
3. PROSTITUTION AND PORNOGRAPHY
Slay Queens on Social Media
A slay Queen is a woman who wants to mesmerize everyone else with how beautiful she feels she is. She maintains that she can only ride in specific cool vehicles and she can only live in certain suburbs and as well have her specific menu.
Characteristics of Slay Queens:
Slay Queens cannot meet more than one person without make-up.
They have a unique language. For example Instead of saying “baby”, they say “bae”. They use “hun” for honey and “hubby or boo” for husband. Yes, they strive to be different from other women.
They are always online on social media. They cannot live far away from their phones. They always check on how many people liked or commented on their photos and updates. Their airtime is majorly not for making calls but buying data.
They love partying – This becomes their best time to update their IG and tagging their friends along.
Current Trends – They are always updated on anything that is trending and has monetary inclination. For example jackpot millionaire, and current shopping malls. In Ghana, some popular Slay Queens include Moesha Boduong (@moeshaboduong), Afia Schwarzenegger (@queenafiaschwarzenegger), Akuapem Poloo (@akuapem_poloo), Efia Odo (@efia_odo), Fella Makafui (@fellamakafui), Hajia Bintu (@bintu_haji), Sister Derby (@sisterdeborah). One interesting thing about these Slay Queens is that, they all indicate in their profiles that they are actresses.
Apps like WhatsApp, Snap Chat, Tik Tok and Facebook are fueling prostitution and sexual exploitation on social media.
Prostitution has moved “from the street to the internet” where young women flash nude and sexy pictures of themselves with their contacts and trading sex live.
In Ghana, some of these groups and hashtags include: #HookUpGH #LatestSexTapeGH Friends With Benefit, Link Up and Bestie.
According to an article online by Globe Post, “In Zambia, students in cyber cafes join whatsapp and facebook groups to connect with pimps in a few clicks”. [The Globe Post 04/06/2019.]
CAUSES OF THE MORAL DECLINE:
The youth have the perception, that has been created on social media and TV and the sensationalization of these lifestyles on social media, that getting into these kinds of lifestyle will make them accepted. For example, the constant feedback (the number of likes and views) that they see friends or other users get when they upload certain contents entices or encourages them to replicate the same or similar contents so that they could also become popular or accepted.
Poverty of Opportunity:
The devil finds work for the idle hand, so says an old adage. Materialism and the desire to move up so quickly in society cause people to indulge in misbehavior on social media due to poverty of opportunity and influencing social factors.
Ignorance and Copying Blindly:
A lot of Social Media users are copying blindly and absorbing the culture of the West. For example most of the slay queens on social media pick up ideas and misbehaviours from African-American Hip Hop/RnB greats like Cardi B and Nicki Minaj.
EFFECTS ON SOCIETY:
The moral decline being perpetrated on Social Media increases the rate of indecency all over the place in terms of lifestyle: Language, fashion (dressing), way of speaking (LAFA =Locally Acquired Foreign Accent) faking Personal Identities, rejection of oneself/culture and extremely low self-esteem.
Increased Crime Rate:
A lot of people have been victimized as a result of subscribing to or using social media. Criminals are produced on social media from time to time. There are a lot of hackers and social deviants on social media who just “live the criminal life” as a normal life. Some of them do not even know engaging in Cyber Fraud is criminal. They feel it is normal to extort money from someone who is known to have lots of it.
Waste of Time:
Social media causes a lot of its users to spend long hours chatting, making and uploading contents. Majority of netizens wake up from sleep and the first thing they do is to reach for their phones to check what they missed when they were asleep. When you behave like this, then social media is slowly taking your freewill and your view of the world is being manipulated and tricked away.
The people we all follow on social media are not perfect, they are actors. Social media users often become engaged when they are negatively aroused emotionally. When the negativity (getting scared or startled, irritated etc) is amplified, there is a quick response to it and very soon, we are all driven by it to move in a certain direction. Positive behavioural emotions (building trust, feeling good etc) are however, rarely aroused.
Governments Should Formulate Policies to Ban Criminal Apps and Websites:
I suggest that policy makers should enact laws to punish perpetrators of crimes on social media. For example criminal websites and apps could be shut down or banned from operating in jurisdictions. Again, in China, netizens use RENREN (their version of facebook which was formerly known called Xiaonei or “School Yard”) so that the Chinese netizens do not get to blindly copy lifestyles from Europe and America.
Take a Break:
Addicted users of Social Media should delete their social media accounts and stay off social media completely for at least six months. This will help them to know themselves and truly define what you want or do not want. During this “break” time, they could take to challenging themselves in acquiring skills or taking courses, travelling or devoting to some profitable venture.
To a large extent, when we adopt the interventions I have suggested above, our view of the world would become more realistic. Again in Jaron Lanier’s voice “Society has been gradually darkened by the scheme (of social media business moguls) and each and everyone of us is under surveillance all the time and we are all under this mild version of behaviour modification all the time…so if we get off that, we cn have a chance to experience a clear view of ourselves and our lives…and society could have voices to get perspective/real conversations”.