Last weekend, a local female journalist was caught in a lie on social media. Apparently, she had a bunch of pictures on her timeline of things she claimed to own and people she claimed to have met when she hadn’t.
As expected, hell rained down on her with the usual trolls and keyboard warriors.
While the issue of plagiarism is one that is worrying especially when it’s being perpetrated by a media professional who should know better, I am still very surprised by how committed we are to watching other people’s lives; concerned by how someone will take time off their lives to scroll through a stranger’s timeline, extract pictures and then run them through reverse searches to establish whether this person, who has no idea that you exist, really owns that pair of shoes or not.
The sad part is how easy it is to get caught up in all of it. All you need to do is key in someone’s name and see how well they are living. How they have bought a new house, have just had the dream wedding or are globe-trotting while you are still stuck in that job you hate and living in that tiny, crammed apartment.
If you ask a keyboard warrior why they are doing it, they will tell you that it is accountability. That a person has a responsibility to put out to the world the truth.
While the latter statement is true, the need for accountability is not why we are obsessed with other people’s lives online.
Truth is a lot of these people scrolling through other’s timelines and doing reverse searches are in fact looking for evidence, even a shred of it, that they are not doing very badly or that they are in some way superior to that celebrity on Instagram.
A lot of times, this time spent on social media comparing or searching for clues that the other person isn’t as happy as they say they are will hardly make you feel better about your life. Sometimes you are comparing your chapter three with someone else’s chapter 13. What good can come from that?
Unless you are an influencer and being on social media is earning you money, log off some of the time.
Instead of stalking, engage in those social media activities which actually benefit you, like advertising your business. And if you come across a picture-perfect profile and you can feel the jealousy that will likely lead you to investigate their lives stirring within you, remember that social media is not real life. We post the good and crop out the bad in our lives.
Curiosity is good but do not get sucked in. So what if that person you’ve been following doesn’t really own that shoe that they posted on Instagram or the vacation they claim they went on was a work trip?
What if their picture perfect life isn’t actually perfect? How about you shift that energy to more important and worrying issues which actually affect you? As Kenyans, we are surely not in short supply of these.