Smartphone technology has deep impact on mental health
Yesterday, I saw something that shocked me, unlike anything I have ever seen in my life. it was like a daydream or a nightmare appearing real. Even now when I close my eyes, I still see it and it freaks me out. It haunts me. How can I unsee this?
It was a video of some men killing a woman and some other men. The leader of the gang is supposedly ordering his minion to cut off a woman’s private part while he records it in a video.
I have never seen anything like that in my life. It is terrible and shows in many ways how human morality has been debased and human life degraded to the point we no longer question anything. Everything is recorded and fed to the ever-hungry monster – the internet, for people to consume.
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True, social media has its values; it’s an exciting place. This minute you are cracking your ribs with laughter, the next minute you are dabbing hot tears from different colourful contents pouring into your face from around the globe.
But, have you ever felt like you have lost control of your right to choose? That you no longer have control over what content you consume? Contents of all kinds come pouring into your face from around the world and from all kinds of people in a manner that is impossible to ignore and you have no choice but to consume it if you must be in that space?
Sometimes, I think, maybe, I should quit the social media space and use my phone only for answering calls because this is not what I bargained for when I signed up as a member of this giant cocoon.
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And I am not alone in this. Every day, as I course through the internet space, I see users typing flippantly, how do I unsee this or how do I unsee what I have just seen… they say this lightly but in essence, they have just witnessed an aberration of normalcy that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
However, what we should understand is that our mind is a canvas painting pictures with indelible ink. Whatever we see cannot be unseen. There is no mental eraser for us. Whatever the eyes see, the mind stores in our subconscious. It never fills up and it never erases. It’s there forever.
How can I unsee this? People who saw the Chrisland school girl sex video before it was pulled out from the internet will never unsee that. People who saw Tiwa Savage’s sex video will never unsee that. People who saw Oxlade’s sex video will never unsee that. People who saw the Boko Haram soldiers severing a man’s head will never unsee that. I will never unsee this image of a man severing a woman’s private part with a butcher’s sickle. For the rest of our lives, these images will stick in our subconscious, forever. It will haunt me forever.
And this will not be the first time nor the last. And each time it shows up, people consume it with so much avidity. The inquisitive man cannot keep your fingers away from such a call to action. It’s not surprising how much content dominates every other content online. And you know what, the world moves on. It never stops. It never ends. And every day we wake up to a different bigger monster than we witnessed the day before. It is mind-boggling.
What is happening to the world?
Also, the quest for numbers on social media is fueling this craze. We have accepted the norm that social media is a game of numbers. Your worth as a user is measured by numbers; how many likes, how many followers, how many comments, how many shares, and how many views does the content have? And these algorithms drive every online user crazy.
To this end, users will do just about anything to fit this premise, they will post just anything to get higher views, more likes, more shares, and more comments. It does not matter what that content is or how it affects another user. As long as it trends and can rake in views and engagement, it is good. But we know it is not. We suffer the consequence as a society, all of us.
I can hear you say, nobody is forcing you to view it and bla bla bla la la la…
We can blame the users to apply discretion to what content they consume, yes, but social media platforms have more than enough share of this blame, too. There have to be measures put in place to discourage people from spreading morally sensitive content as well as bold warnings to inform users that the content is sensitive or explicit and that if they choose to consume it, it’s their decision.
Currently, Facebook seems to have such a warning against sensitive or graphic content. However, apps like WhatsApp and Twitter do not, and so users take advantage of this lapse to spread false and sensitive information in a random, uncontrolled manner.
And whether we believe it or not, these things add up every day. They choke our sensitivities and dull our sense of self and dignity. And before we know it, we begin to rationalize everything as cruise and trends. Death, life, morality, virtue, these things mean nothing to us anymore.
But the ugly truth is that there are things we should not post online for everyone to see. As human beings, there are things we should not see as they are not good for our psyche.
Because, in the end, as cohabitants of this wild world, we may have to decide between sharing in this giant cocoon or staying out of it for the sake of our mental health.