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Social media, through our acting out of the ‘fantasized self’, helps us suspend our immediate reality in order to escape our urgent existential crises.
Since the rise of popular social networks such as Instagram and Twitter people have been able to portray themselves as more glamorous and free spirited. Many people find these social networks pretentious as they do not display what is truly happening in people’s lives.
When going on Instagram, you come to the realisation that everyone is beautiful, wealthy, gym freaks, and well-dressed. People usually post pictures which enhance their popularity in their social circles. Every Monday people post pictures of their #MCM (Man Crush Monday) and on Wednesday of their #WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday) and these people are usually ‘bae af!’ (very beautifully and attractive). Then there’s the #Foodporn where people post pictures of good food which usually seems classy and healthy. Let’s not forget the “outfit of the day” popularly known as #OOTD. This is when people post pictures of an outfit that they have carefully sought out for that particular day.
There’s little modesty where this is concerned. Designer labels are mentioned to let others know just how expensive their clothing is. All of this in the quest for more ‘followers’ and ‘likes’.
Meanwhile on Twitter everyone is an expert on matters, witty and brave. This can especially be said about ‘twelebs’ (Twitter celebrities). These are ‘tweeps’ (Twitter users) that have a large following because of some or other reason. Usually it is someone who is not afraid to voice their opinions at all costs. This has lead to what is known as “Black Twitter”, the kind of tweets that are a bit too honest. People who engage in such tweeting are usually highly critical.
The tweets have to be short, concise with a funny and sometimes offensive punch line that will keep everyone glued to their phones. People also watch television via twitter through the tweets of others. Everyone can use their expertise to commentate on what is happening in a soapie, movie or sports match.
Why search for information on Google when there is ‘twoogle’. Find information about everything and anything at anytime just by asking their followers.
Junior Makena, a final year student at the University of Johannesburg has been labelled a ‘tweleb’ with an impressive eighteen thousand four hundred followers. Makena believes that social media culture is about people being more open and creating a space for people to network. However he does add that people should have limits to what they say and show some sense of morality. Ironically he has not always followed the ‘morality code’ that he deems important. “There was a point where I posted half naked pictures of myself”, this is how he got more females to follow him. It says that there is not much pretending when it comes to his online persona, Makena says that he is the same person online as he is offline. He does however admit that social media is a platform to be pretentious for many. ” I have met people who say they live at a certain place on Twitter, but they were not able to show me” he says.
Social media has been a new age tool that has brought about a different kind of generation. A generation that is focused on a sense of belonging that has endorsed a certain kind of lifestyle. Some might just say that they are ‘faking it till they make it’.
Will we all look back one day and laugh at all this social media madness?
Social media in journalism is increasingly becoming a useful tool for investigative journalism said Raymond Joseph, social media expert and freelance journalist, at this year’s Power
Reporting journalism conference. Twitter, if used properly, can be used as a tool to probe sources for investigative stories. According to Joseph, Twitter can be creepy because you can monitor what
people say and do without their being aware of it.
“There are conversations that are going on there [Twitter] about things that you want to know. You can actually monitor someone without them actually knowing that you are watching them. There
are useful tools which allow you to get to the heart of a subject or source.”
Garaki Fadzi, a delegate from Zimbabwe, said he was not active on Twitter until he attended a talk on its use for investigative journalism. He says he now realises how helpful Twitter is when it comes to crowd-sourcing stories.
“I’ll be able to get leads from people without following them directly and I will be able to get more depth than I was doing now.
It also keeps me secure when I’m confronting people … So I think I will benefit a lot,” he said.
A journalist from China says there is a Chinese twitter called Weibo. It works the same as
Twitter and people interact in the same way as they would here in South Africa.
You can actually monitor someone without them actually knowing that you are watching them.
Liam Lee, a delegate from Hong Kong, said he noticed South Africa and China have similar ways of using social media as an investigative tool to write stories. He used Weibo to find out what happened to people after an earthquake struck a small town in China.
“I try use my Chinese version of Twitter to find people who were living in a small town where there was an earthquake.” He thinks social media is fast and efficient because ordinary people are always posting breaking news and are at the scene when a story breaks. When the story broke about the earthquake, people using Weibo who were at the scene were very descriptive in how it all happened.
“A young, kind father replied to my request and gave me leads to phone numbers and an email so
I could contact people to tell me what happened and they described every detail for me so I appreciate it,” Lee said.
Adeonke Ogunleye, from Nigeria, thinks Twitter can have positive and negative effects on journalism. She said she has been bullied on Twitter for exposing corruption in Nigeria. Ogunleye complained about the bullying to Twitter and the harasser was suspended, only to return to social media two weeks later.
“I’m a victim of Twitter bullying because of all of my stories from the past, stories I’ve done or investigative stories I have been able to carry out and so many people have come after me on Twitter, they bully me, even fellow reporters and journalists.”
However, according to Joseph, Twitter, if used correctly, can help journalists uncover stories in a way they have never been covered before. He said in all his experience as a journalist he has never seen such a powerful tool.
“If you use Twitter properly you should never have to look for stories … If you’re doing it properly. The tools do the heavy lifting.”
He admits that Twitter on its own is not enough and conversations on Twitter need to be written and read in context so that the story is not skewed or clouded by rumours. He said using lists is also a way for users to sift through tweets.
“Twitter on its own is not enough. There is a variety of tools that you are using that you use around it. The secret source is lists where you can distil right down to subjects so what you really want is an controlled stream,” Joseph said.
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