The popular Yoruba adage that, ‘What an elder sees while sitting, a young person won’t see if he climbs a tree,’ hasn’t been truer than Charles Dickens’ description of the 21st century as ‘the best of times’(don’t quote me anywhere). Technology and social media are evolving, and the world has become a global village where communication with anyone anywhere is seamless. In this piece, we will look at social media and relationships of Nigerian youths.
However, this changes the way Nigerian youths, who constitute a large population of internet users in the country, now relate with one another, be it in romantic, platonic, or everyday relationships. From what used to be to what we have now, this article examines the impact of this technological addition in our lives. At the end, you will decide if you’re seated on ‘this table,’ and what next step to take.
There’s a way we, Nigerian youths handled our relationships before now. So, to understand how social media has changed us, we must first understand how it was.
Remember how older people tell us stories of how they met their soulmates through social clubs, and mutual friends, and randomly stumbling on each other where they lived, worked, or schooled? Those stories explain how it used to be. Unless you had ‘black superpowers,’ there is no way you can meet anyone without coming in physical contact with them.
Although this meant meeting fewer people, there was room for better connections and understanding between those that met back then.
Relationships within families back then had closer ties as you had more time to spend with these people you were bound to come in contact with constantly. We all looked forward to our concert type of gatherings and there’s hype around family functions. Why not? They were our rare opportunities to establish that deep relationship with relatives in a fun and relaxed setting. You couldn’t afford to miss those Eid festivals and Christmas celebrations!
On the flip side, there was a limit to our knowledge of places outside our locality. Most of the experiences were from hearsay from our IJGB friends and relatives, books, or traditional mass media, depending on what’s available to you. We had many ‘Seniorman Jugas’ who, at any given chance, would feast on our ignorance with their tales by the moonlight about places and events they never witnessed.
This reality formed our opinions about other people outside our locality and informed the relationships we had with them.
As social media grew in adoption, usage, and access, our social life and relationships haven’t remained the same. The influence of these platforms on our relationships became more significant than it used to be. Some of those influences come in the following ways:
The popularity of social media gives us more opportunities to interact and form relationships with people outside our locality. We also learn about other people’s experiences firsthand without having to be with them.
Notwithstanding, many of those meetings don’t go beyond social media as we find it hard to meet offline. That is not to undermine the value of online friendships in some people’s lives. But, do the connections and understanding get as firm as they used to? Or do we have to mention how boys make friends without knowing their real names or their names at all?
Social media is the new JAMB that sets the rule on how we live our lives as we get exposed to opinions online that define how we relate with one another. Though these opinions sometimes help us in making good decisions, they have also created some unrealistic standards in our lives. More than often, we forget our reality and live off social media trends.
These standards impact people’s commitment to relationships. A recent example is the buzz around the ‘red flags’ trend on Twitter, which dictates what people should consider in their romantic relationships. It also extends to everyday interaction among strangers, workers, and neighbors. While some of these flags are genuinely red, most remain a mirage in any real-case scenario and they are mostly relative.
As social media continues to set standards for us, it gets easier to cancel whoever disagrees with those rules. There’s little to no room for difference in opinions, and it feels like we’re back to the days of Galileo when having a different perspective means death.
Though no one will kill you on social media, your relationships might just face execution. Don’t be surprised when your spouse breaks up with you because you like a social media post that says Eba is a better swallow than Amala.
‘Online lo wà, sọ̀rọ̀ bó se wùn ẹ́ (You’re online, say whatever you like)’ is a phrase that sums up how social media has often been used to make unfounded allegations and utterances without repercussions.
No one is above ‘dragging’ by a disregarding and frustrated younger generation, even on inconsequential issues and rumors. This excess in the freedom to express unfounded statements affects people in all levels of their future dealings. Your recruiter is currently lurking around social media to look for your contribution to the trend of ‘bad bosses.’
Just as the 21st century can be described as the best of times, experience has also shown it can be the worst. Our interaction with others largely depends on social media, and our cultural values are dying. There is a need for more physical interaction as youth are becoming socially awkward, and being introverted is more convenient. Let’s save our community today and go outside!