After my article on Likes…Follows…Emotions, a dear friend of mine – Khamisa Sara Dike sent this to me. It’s an article she had written addressing the same matter from a slightly different perspective. I found it very instructive…Enjoy & learn
She seems distracted, her books strewn all over her desk. Her fingernails are short, their jagged edges tell the story of panic and anxiety. She sits staring at her computer screen, watching… waiting, her mind in a turmoil. “What are they thinking about me?” She wonders to herself, ”did I offend someone with my post, are they about to strike back”?
Her stomach is in a tight knot, she raises her hand slowly, mechanically to her mouth, and with swift and familiar precision, begins gnawing at her nails; a habit she has when she is nervous. “I knew it, I shouldn’t have posted that”, she reprimanded herself, “nobody likes me, I’m not popular, and they hate me”.
She drew her textbook closer and sat poring over the same page, nothing seemed to stick, her mind too preoccupied. She glances at her laptop again and suddenly, … there it was, a lone thumbs up sign beside her post, someone liked her post and even left a comment! She heaves a sigh of relief and smiles, “someone likes it, they like me.” Her fingers fly furiously as she types another post, a response to the comment. And then… it starts all over again, the waiting; “did they get the joke, did I go too far?”
Welcome to the newest wave of social shunning, social media clique-ism, and cyber bullying, … behold, social media ostracism!
In every forum, you’ll find three categories of people: the popular members, whose posts are met with lots of likes and approving comments; the silent members who creep you out by their silence, (you know they are there in the background, watching your every move, but they remain mute); and then there are the unpopular, often ignored members of the group, whose posts go unnoticed, whose comments are met with radio silence, who withdraw and disappear, or worse… they turn to other vices such as drugs, alcohol, sex, binge/purge, bulimia, and other dangerous behavior, in order to cope with the oppressive silence they experience in groups (common in teenage groups).
One definition of the word oppression is “to inflict stress upon”. The stress and anxiety caused by these social media interactions is what I have coined “The Neo-Social Anxiety Disorder (N-SAD): “using social media to bully the less popular, less privileged and less liked, by ignoring their input in a forum; thus, causing anxiety to rise up in them, as they question their likability within that forum”. Sound familiar?
This may seem a bit far-fetched to some, but it is a true and legitimate concern. You see; every human being has a need to be heard, accepted, appreciated, liked, respected, validated, understood and acknowledged. When a person posts in a group and the majority ignore their post, that need to be affirmed, is violated, and a signal is transmitted to the person: “we don’t like you, we don’t care, you’re not important, why are you still here?”
Sound unreal? Ask anyone who has been in that predicament, especially when shortly after their post goes unnoticed, the popular one posts within the same forum, and suddenly, the quiet group comes alive! It is little wonder then, why some people are members of a group for months and years, but remain eerily quiet…. the fear of rejection!
Unfortunately, cliques form very quickly in chat groups, and lives have been lost as a result of cyber bullying cliques. It is our collective duty therefore, to educate the younger generation on social media etiquette, showing them the responsible use of social media to foster support and respect for others. A forum to welcome all people and encourage all voices to be heard, … not just chime in when their favorite friends or “stars” make contributions. We need to teach children to extend grace to all, equally. As adults, we share culpability with regards to social media bullying (SMB). We have all unwittingly become social media bullies, playing the new game of cyber shunning and ostracism.
While I don’t think people consciously go out of their way to ignore posts, when one person’s posts are habitually ignored, it becomes a problem; especially in teenage forums, where most already struggle with self-image issues. Teach your children to respond to posts with the same courtesy they would extend to a person standing in front of them, by showing respect and kindness. You’ll never know, but your “like”, or affirmative response to somebody’s post in a chat group may be the catalyst that pulls them away from, or pushes them over the edge!
NSA-D is a real issue that takes it’s toll on the emotional health of people and our children who are further down the scale of emotional maturity are most vulnerable. Khamisa says “This is the new way of ostracizing folks and/or bullying them. It has caused many deaths by suicide and prompted many eating disorders. It needs to be addressed”.
So, I lend my voice to hers – Where Do You Stand? Let’s recognize the huge emotional pressure our children may be under and address it appropriately.
About Kamisa Sara Dike
Transplanted from her home country of Nigeria, Khamisa Sara Dike is an American actress, freelance writer and budding screenwriter with a passion for the arts, a knack for weaving great storylines, and delivering her characters’ message with veracity and conviction. A philanthropist at heart, Dike volunteers her time, working with young women in general, but is particularly drawn to those who have been victims of sexual abuse, and young women with personality or self-esteem issues. Her Non-profit, The VIP Institute, provides a safe harbor for such; a place where restoration takes place, self worth restored, and life’s purpose discovered. Equipped with the tools to pursue that purpose with vision, integrity and passion (VIP), these young women are ultimately transformed from victims to victors. Dike also started an outreach to the underserved and marginalized in the city of Buford, Georgia, where she resides, providing food, clothing and toys to the community. Currently, she is vigorously pursuing her passion in Screenplay writing and acting and has just penned her first Movie Script Dark Horse.