There is an adage in Igbo culture that says “ife na-ato uto na-egbu egbu”, literally meaning that sweet things can kill. But figuratively, the adage is implying that too much of everything is bad. The adage is used to call on people to apply caution while consuming things that give them pleasure. It calls for moderation, regulation, and restrictions. It also reminds us that everything that has an advantage also has a disadvantage. Though that saying is ancient, it can still be applied to today’s world.
If you check the perspective of this adage, you will agree that there is truly a bad side to everything. For instance, we are warned daily to consume less sugar because it can harm us. People are also advised to be moderate with their alcohol consumption because taking too much of the substance can damage some vital organs. We have been advised to balance our social and career lives because, if the scale tilts to one corner, we will not have a happy life. We should also show moderation and restraint with the food we consume, how we dress, the length of time we sit before television, and so many other things. We should be moderate with everything we do because, even if we enjoy they are the things we value, too much of them can affect us negatively. This is also the same thing with how we use social media.
One thing many people have not realized is that social media, like alcohol and tobacco, can be addictive. You can spend hours before your phone, jumping from one social media platform to another, doing all sorts of things. Some people spend these hours scouting for customers while others use it to collect data for their research works. There are those that search for employers through social media as well as those that use it to search for employees. Some people use social media to build relationships while many others destroy theirs through the same medium. Knowledge can also be acquired from social media because there are many people that use the medium to coach others. You can sharpen your skills, especially argumentative and story-telling skills, build your career, and develop a sense of belonging through social media. However, despite all the good sides of social media, the bad effects of social media cannot be ignored.
When social media was developed, it was meant for the good alone. It turned the world into one global village because, through it, people from different parts of the world come together to interact with one another. However, this technology has been turned into a monster that is capable of causing conflicts between individuals, groups, and nations. Somehow, social media has been turned from being the perfect hub for connections to that of disconnection. It has moved from building relationships to destroying them. It has turned into a place for spewing and propagating hatred, disunity, distrust, intolerance, lies, and half-truths. Like someone rightly said, if another war should start in countries such as Nigeria, it will be caused by whatever was cooked and served through social media. Today, social media has taken the status of the sweet thing that can kill its user.
Like the Igbo adage that calls for moderation in everything a person does, this essay is calling for moderation in the use of social media. You don’t need to let your blood pressure shoot up because you use social media. You don’t have to entertain people that want to destroy your happiness and peace of mind through social media, irrespective of who they are. You don’t need to allow rumour mongers and fake news peddlers to destabilize you because they utilize social media to market their wares and “recruit” the services of ignorant persons.
Learn to build a life outside social media. Maintain good offline relationships with your friends, neighbours, and relatives. Utilise social media as a tool and nothing more. Decide what that tool is and ensure that you don’t get distracted. Remember, before social media you were. Don’t let it destroy what you cherish.