The Battle for Fame on Social Media
The popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr among the post-Generation X constituents is pretty much an open secret. Every day, hundreds of thousands of young people around the world continue to flock into this virtual world that has practically become a basic need in the contemporary society.
While there are numerous uses for social media, it is primarily applied – especially by the younger generation – as a means to keeping tabs on one another and interact. But with its dilated audience, social media’s peripheral uses are becoming increasingly noticeable.
The most recent reference has to do with a certain Facebook page through which alleged campus ‘divas’ auction their flesh to men with deep pockets (and shallow morals). It should be noted that the word ‘diva’ here has been used in its loosest (literally and morally) and most misleading form judging from the photos and accompanying captions on the page.
From a liberal standpoint, there’s really nothing worth fretting about with regard to the said page. After all, aren’t they just entrepreneurial minded citizens promoting their wares in the open market that is social media like so many corporates do?
However, the floods of rage and disdain that flowed after a local radio show shed a spotlight on the page seemed to suggest otherwise.
Eventually, it emerged that some of the pictures posted by the anonymous account were picked up from across the Internet including accounts of persons on Facebook who had not submitted their photos for purposes of getting hooked up with “tycoons and MPs”. The 50,000 and counting fans on the page most probably couldn’t care any less.
For all the uproar it stirred however, the “Campus Divas For Rich Men” Facebook page is certainly not the first of its kind on the social network.
In fact with dozens other similar Kenyan pages and thousands across the globe, the only real surprise is why this particular one caused such a storm more so considering that the clandestine relations between campus girls and rich men have been questioned repeatedly in the past.
Across the cyber streets on Twitterville, its more or less a free-for-all as users post sexually inappropriate photos and updates at will. Being comparatively more permissive than Facebook, it’s almost as if tolerance for nudity is a prerequisite for anyone venturing into the land of 140 characters.
In some cases, Twitter users, including Kenyans, have been known to periodically post nude or semi-nude photos of themselves in order to gain popularity and followers on the network. Often with guaranteed success.
As any marketer worth their title would affirm, in today’s society, sex sells. From lingerie to cars to bread and even anti-sex campaigns, the use of sex and sexuality to promote products, organisations and even causes has been known to record remarkable results.
As it turns out, social media users seem to have found a direct way to tap into the opportunity this presents.
Narcissistic as it may sound, many Facebook and Twitter users are increasingly pawning sex for popularity on the respective social media platforms.
While it may not necessarily be in the style of “Campus Divas For Rich Men”, it is not uncommon to come across photos of young ladies and lads showing off their goodies in an attempt to grab the attention of other social media users.
It is such photos unwittingly posted with the conceited yet genuine intention of looking good to friends and/or followers that often end up on sleazy websites and pages across the web.
Much of the allure of Internet conversations is in the notion that one can be anyone they want to be. It’s like being the star of your own reality television show.
The result is a popularity contest of sorts where everyone is looking to live their 15 minutes of fame in front of an unlimited audience. This is probably what drives people to post things that are Twitter/Facebook “worthy” believing that the only way to gain acceptance is by people knowing about them. In other words, it’s all about the “Likes” and “Retweets”.
There are those who attribute this craze for attention to the existing celebrity culture around the world, which has young people obsessed with the glitz and glamour of life in the limelight.
Others blame traditional media (newspapers, radio and TV) for glorifying materialism and vanity but quickly taking a moral high ground when the same is perpetuated on social media.
Of course there’s the school of thought that argues that some people are just downright foolish for failing to consider the ramifications of such blind sighted actions based on other people’s experiences.
Interestingly though, when things fall apart, it is always those whose approval you go to so much lengths to gain who end up chewing you out for such folly and probably not wanting to be associated with you lest they lose the approval of their “friends”.
When it comes down to it though, one thing to always keep in mind is that it’s just social media. It’s just never that serious.
By Boniface Mwalii.
This article was originally published on The Daily Nation.
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