At a recent party I attended, I found everyone checking their social media instead of having conversations. We now know for a fact that too much social media is harmful. The most vulnerable group being children, it has prompted the UK government to plan crack downs on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram on their harmful content after the suicide of 14-year-old Molly Russell. But what about the mainstream group of normal adults? Do we really need ‘big brother’ action? Is social media addictive?
Instagram users have been tested for dopamine hits, and FOMO is regularly reported – how we hanker after the blue light in those bright pictures of perfect people on perfect holidays! I myself feel that not checking my IG feed is like being starved of news: where is everyone? What are they doing? It’s my Tamagochi: if I don’t nurture it, it will die on me.
A new, as yet unnamed mental health virus has infected the digital generation. Reality stars milk it, the vulnerable are prey to it, and social media channels profile the whole bunch to sell as information to advertisers. But we can’t live without it: our mantra has been to stay connected. It’s not all bad news though. Like TV in the BSM (before social media) decades, somewhere along the line common sense kicks in. I limit myself to 20 minutes rapid feed-check in the morning, and a quick look in the evening Uber ride home. I’ve found all kinds of useful information, unearthed old friends, followed museums and important art foundations like Foundation Beyeler, as well as accounts such as Lauren Prakke’s CultureRow, The Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development and Art Talks Egypt.
Is my Instagram feed the equivalent of postcards from friends? Is it the new journalism? It may be all of those, but as long as we’re the boss of it and not it of us, then we’re in good shape.
From the March 2019 issue of Harper's BAZAAR Arabia.
Press play to watch CEO Dr Shawana Vali talk about the influence of social media...