SLICE OF LIFE: Social media has taken over my life

Social media continues its pursuit to take over my daily life. I am probably a better photojournalist on Instagram than most professionals and I have developed better investigative skills than the FBI.

I have come to a realisation that my activity on social media is far greater than the average joe. Or is it?

I constantly ask myself what life would be like without the various social media accounts that I have, and if the time and effort I put into each of them is actually worth it.

Posting pictures on Instagram used to be a daily activity until it became more like a full-time job. It takes me a good couple of hours to decide which photo I should put up on Instagram. I question every single thing about the photo.  Should it be in black and white? Would it look better if it had a filter that makes me look tanned? Does this photo match the scheme of my profile feed? I also struggle to find the perfect caption. Should it be funny, philosophical or even relate to my picture at all? I have spent countless hours scrolling through Pinterest trying to find a decent caption that fits my picture and then I just end up using an emoticon anyway. The amount of effort I put into posting one picture makes me wonder about the precious time I have just wasted.

It’s a bit of a catch-22 really. A world without social media would not allow me to do the small things in life that I enjoy. Facebook lets me check up on friends who I haven’t seen since high school. I can watch my cousins grow up in America without missing out on their milestones.

But social media sucks me in. One minute I’m watching a video of a man who ran the Two Oceans Marathon on crutches and two hours later, I’m watching a video of a dog barking to its favourite song.

My mornings usually begin with checking my cellphone and spending endless time checking my social media accounts. The process starts with WhatsApp, then I switch over to Facebook to check whose birthday it is (I would never remember otherwise). Then I have to catch up on what’s happening on Snapchat stories and liking pictures on Instagram. I watch people skydive in Dubai and think of all the activities I could be doing if I left my bed.

I finish off this ritual with a good scroll through Twitter, trying to find out the latest news in hopes that I will pass the week’s current news pop quiz. When I’ve completed all these chores, I finally feel ready to get out of bed.

As a student journalist, social media has become essential in my life. Twitter helps me stay tapped into up-to-the-minute news. I also share stories I have produced on there. Not everyone reads newspapers anymore and without social media, I’m not too sure how people find my stories.

Social media has truly become so rooted in my life that even my decisions are dictated by the things I see on Apps on my phone. Zomato decides where I want to go out for dinner. If I need to contact someone for a story, I tweet them.

At the end of the day, I’ve come to terms with my social media dependency. My relationship with my phone is not an abnormality, I actually think it’s become the norm in my generation.

If I had one rand for every time I looked at my social media accounts, I would be a millionaire.

Hold that thought while I go decide what photo I’m going to post on Instagram next.

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Wits Bucks continue winning streak

THE FRIDAY Night Lights (FNL) division of the Inner City Super League (ICSL) kicked off early this month. The Wits Bucks won their second game in a row against the Braamfontein Blues on Tuesday night with a close 61-59 win at the Hall 29 courts.

FREE THROW: The Wits Bucks go head to head with the Braamfontein Blues on the courts on Tuesday night.                                                                     Photo: Chante Schatz

The home team was able to dominate the first quarter of the game shooting a couple of three pointers which put the Bucks ahead of the game. It was not until the second quarter of the fi rst half that the away side started running in on the Bucks to get close to their points. Wits Bucks coach Tshiamo Ngakane said, “It was a very close game that went down to the wire.”

Last week, the team beat the Corinthians with an impressive 63–38 win. The team hoped to do that again with the Braamfontein Blues, yet the opposition team proved to be challenging.
The second half of the game saw the Blues dominating the game as they managed to make an impressive comeback against the Bucks.

Pressure mounted in the last five minutes of the last quarter when the Bucks were just one point ahead of the opposition, but the home team managed to get a quick two-pointer shot in to conclude their win. “Wits was missing several players but were still able to pull a good result,” said Ngakane. The ICSL allows both men’s and women’s teams to participate, even interchangeably. “The great thing about FNL is that ladies are able to play with the men and our top national team ladies players, Fortunate Bosega and Ipeleng Nyalto, both played really well in the game,” he said.

The team was very happy with their win over the Blues as they knew they would take the game home. “It was a good game, the guys showed up and were strong throughout,” said team player Yuval Genga.

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Wits Vuvuzela, A successful sweep at USSA Basketball tournament, July 30, 2017

Debt woes burden students in spite of fee waiver

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FEE HEADACHES: Parents and students queue outside Fees Office for fee waiver agreements.                                                                                                                                                               Photo: Lwandile Fikeni

The Wits University’s new fee waiver policy has been set up to help students with debt to register, however, some students are finding even this concession does not go far enough.

According to the policy, “all students who owe R10 000 or less will have their debt automatically rolled into their 2017 fees and will be allowed to register. Students who have debt higher than R10 000 will be requested to pay half the outstanding balance and enter into a payment plan for the remainder of the funds, before being allowed to register”.

Lauren Theys, a third year architectural studies student, says the provision is not so helpful to her. She owed the university R 30 000 and had difficulty raising the R15 000 she needed to pay in order to be allowed to register.

Her circumstances are typical for the so-called “missing middle”. Her mother, Hazel Theys, 61, is a retired teacher who supports Lauren and her brother who’s studying at university in the Northern Cape.

“Her [Lauren] father passed away two years ago, I am the one responsible for her fees now and I’m retired. I have her at varsity and my other son in varsity in Kimberly at Sol Plaatje, plus I’m paying off my bond, which takes half of my pension. So it’s very difficult to keep both children at university at this stage.

“I had to get a loan and luckily it was approved,” said Hazel.

The other issue the Theys family raises is what they say is the lack of assistance from the university after Lauren fell ill last July. She was advised by her doctor to stay at home for the rest of the second semester. Despite this, the university still held her liable for the entire second semester fees.

“When I was still sick I contacted and emailed the relevant people, telling them this is my situation in terms of fees,” she said.

“Instead of being told, ‘come to this office, speak to this person, do this or do that,’ I was told that ‘well, you didn’t fill out this form’ and that was the end of the email instead of being given proper guidance.”

Lauren has three courses outstanding on her degree and she will apply for a fee waiver after paying the 50% required although she doesn’t know how she will pay back the remainder of last year’s fees and this year’s tuition.

Wits Vuvuzela contacted the university to ask whether there are other options available to students who, like Lauren, owe more that R 10 000 but cannot afford to pay the 50% to qualify for a ‘fee waiver’, but there was no response to our emails.

We also asked what steps the university will take in the case of a student who fails to pay off the debt after signing the fee waiver agreement, but the fees office had not responded to this question either by the time of going to press.