I celebrated my birthday on the first weekend of May, 2nd May (the reason I did not anything here that weekend). I was excited and looking forward to that day. I had planned a photo shoot (the new norm) the weekend prior to my special day and I was waiting patiently for the photographer to send me the pictures. I wanted to send them to friends and to post on various social media platforms. Already, my friends were worrying me to send them photos from the photoshoot.
Finally, the photographer started releasing them on 1st May (rather slowly) and I sent them to my friends. Some of them even started posting the photos that day, wishing all the good things in life for me.
Saturday finally came and I was a year older (and wiser as my friends say), I felt so important, everyone was celebrating me. Erm, feel free to call me some kind of a celebrity at this point. My pictures flooded WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and telegram. Friends of my friends wished me through our mutual friends and I received several screenshots of these wishes. I made new friends, and my contacts list increased. In my excitement, I forgot that the birthday was going to be over and I would have to reply all these wishes. It is a habit of mine, but I must admit that I was not able to view all the WhatsApp statuses and facebook stories that were dedicated to me though I replied every message that was sent to me. I remember how in an interview on the Patrick podcast show, the host acknowledged me for replying to every comment on my blog, and I was tempted to ask, “Is that not what we are supposed to do?”
After all the celebration and the wishes, I had to show gratitude to everyone for taking the time to wish me through a message or through a friend, post my pictures on their social media or sent me a gift. This is because Gratitude is said to be the most powerful on the emotional spectrum. It was at this point that I asked myself if I was ready for what I was asking for… I also asked myself how all those celebrities are able to cope with all the messages their fans leave under their posts, in their inboxes, and even those fan letters are delivered to them. Most of us on social media try very hard to get followers and become popular but we are not ready for all the things that come with being popular and having all those followers.
A lot of people only come to social media to post their content; they do not see the comments people post under their own content. The moment you recognize someone and leave a comment under their post, I think it is courteous that he or she replies, in fact, you owe us a reply and you should reply accordingly. The comment doesn’t have to be in your favour before you can reply, sometimes, it is a way of stimulating discussion and getting to learn something new. Remember the saying that be careful what you ask for because it might happen. When you are asking for something, just make sure you are ready for the consequences or let me say, be ready for all the things that will come from your request, including the trickle-down effects and the ripple effects as well.
When you don’t acknowledge others’ interaction with your content on social media, and send a message or leave a comment, the sender only assumes the worst. They might assume you’re not a real person, business, or brand. To them, you’re just another profile, pushing out content with no actual person behind it. That is why I suggest we prepare ourselves for this kind of life for it would be unwise to choose living it, if you’re ill – prepared. Or, you think that you are too busy for them? But, if you can’t even respond to a short Instagram comment like a happy birthday or answer a simple question on a Facebook post, how could you ever have time to engage in interactive discussions with your friends and audience while giving them the personal attention they deserve? In such situations, we just assume that you may be a jerk and that you’re not approachable, friendly, and relatable and that your only goal and intent on social media is to talk to us all, with no intention of letting us talk to you. You are only interested in pushing out your content on us, this only shows that you don’t care about other people.
Let’s say you offer someone who was stranded in a storm a lift, and when you arrived at his or her destination, he or she just got out of your car without saying thank you! Or you go to an interview, and while waiting, you are joined by another candidate with whom you try initiating a conversation say, “Hello, are you ready for the interview” and you are met with silence. So then why do you think it is okay to ignore people on social media? Most of us are guilty of leaving our Whatsapp chats unopened for reasons known to us which I find out of place. It’s a bit disrespectful for someone to send you a text expecting a reply only for you to “air” the person and maybe respond days after or not respond at all and it gets more annoying when that same person sees you update your status and still does not respond to their texts. One way or the other, we selfishly abuse our social media platforms without considering the feelings of the person at the other end, maybe we are really not ready
And this brings me to cyberbullying, just because you have access to a mobile phone or an internet supporting device and internet does not mean that you should fly into people’s inboxes and ask unnecessary questions, or drop nasty comments under people’s contact, you will get a nasty reaction or no reaction at all. The person might choose not to respond to you but that doesn’t mean they are not hurt. Some comments we post under people’s posts especially pictures are so hurtful that it takes days for some of these people to recover or even regain the self-confidence they once had. Trolling on social media has become the norm and even though most of this is done for fun, and we find some risible, we should also be mindful of the feelings of these victims.
Let’s all try to be polite in our activities on social media, you can’t be sure about the person you are ignoring or trolling. And please be polite when you enter someone’s inbox, go straight to the point with what you have to say. Try to take a look at the person’s profile at least before you go into their inbox, it will save you from asking some questions that are likely to be a put off. Don’t take advantage of people’s politeness, it can make them react to you impolitely. We are at a point where everything is getting virtual, let us know how to behave in this online era.
This piece is dedicated to Samuel Clottey, my school mate at the university. He is a graphic designer and a photographer at PhoenixInc. He is the photographer who took my birthday photos, he also designed my thank you flyer. He is on Instagram as Phoenixincs. Shooting with him was fun and exciting, maybe because we are friends but I would still have enjoyed the shoot with him if it was our first meeting. I am looking forward to having another shoot with them in the future. CHEERS!!!