Is the social media culture eroding face-to-face Social Interactions? The subject that this article delves into is a million-dollar question that keeps popping up in social conversations, interactions, and symposiums. Many people eagerly seek to know the connection between social media culture and the steady decline in face-to-face social interactions. Many others are undecided on the existence of such link at all in the first place. Also, many more do not think there is a decline at all in face-to-face social interactions. This query has proven to be a very relevant question in our digitized generation, especially with the consistent increase in social media platforms and users (NB. By the way, the social media platforms out there are endless—I will not bore you with a list at this time).
Before delving into the business of attempting to give our own opinion of this crucial question, cast your mind back to the days before social media became a thing. Recall how important it was to meet with people and sit with them to discuss important issues over coffee, lunch, brunch, dinner, etc.? Remember how it used to be much more comfortable at some point to pick out introverts from extroverts when meeting people face-to-face? Now, put that side-by-side this current era of social media when people can type messages from miles away across the globe and sound bold without being bold. People are now able to put up fake facades, masking their true identities as they parade themselves virtually on various social media platforms.
“Social media is an amazing tool, but it’s really the face-to-face interaction that makes a long-term impact.” — Felicia Day
It is safe to that say social media has generally helped in improving so many things concerning social interaction and communication. For instance, sending messages is a lot easier—a fact which is now almost cliché—meeting new people and staying in touch is now a lot more possible. We are now a click away from people across borders. Gone are the days of snail-mail socializing and communication. The days that we wrote letters by hand and took a journey to the post office to get the message on its way have long gone. The days that we that we then spent a week or two twiddling our thumbs to receive a reply is now history for the most part. All that is history now, we are socializing at the speed of light. The new age of social media is one of the chief contrivances that has made the world a lot smaller—a global village so to say. Despite the many pros of social media, the fact remains that this new development has its cons and adverse effects when it comes to hampering face-to-face physical interaction.
The new age of social media is causing a socializing and relationship quantum-shift to our current reality. Nowadays, people would be comfortable to ask a girl they’ve only just seen her profile online out on a date without first trying to meet her in person. Before the advent and deluge of social media, social interactions were more prevalent and real. People wanted to get to know other people they anticipate being involved with on a romantic level more personally via face-to-face interactions. They did so via a series of dates and outings—a romantic candle-light dinner, a trip to the movies, a road trip, just to mention a few. Decisions were made on a face-to-face basis, not merely by a virtual snapshot of who they portray to be. Today, there is this feeling that a person’s social media profile is enough information to decide whether the individual would be a good fit for a romantic relationship or not. Now, more people are fluent in conversing on social media but fail woefully at face-to-face interactions.
With the increase in attention placed on the need to build virtual connections through online media platforms, there is a rising need to re-educate ourselves on the need to develop physical interaction skills, which are even more critical than social media interactions. Because of the informality of specific social media interaction platforms, many things have lost their relevance; such as the common courtesy which is expected from people who do not know you before now. Also, the language of social media has started to creep into regular in-person conversations and formal means of communication. For instance, we see people knowing or unknowingly adopting and using social media lingo in formal business communications (e.g., using LOL or Laugh-Out-Loud; OMG or Oh my gosh; l8r or Later, etc.)—this is highly unprofessional. It is just a further reminder that many people are becoming too ingrained in the social media virtual reality to the point that it is affecting every other aspect of their lives. Social media and real-world reactions are fast becoming more hybridized—a mixed blessing of pros and cons so to say.
“Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived, both positively and negatively. Every time you post a photo or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand.” — Amy Jo Martin
The statistics on how people are utilizing social media websites are staggering. The impact of social media on the younger generation growing up is severe. In a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report, the following facts were presented that “22% of teenagers log on to their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day, and more than half of adolescents log on to a social media site more than once a day. 75% of teenagers now own cell phones, and 25% use them for social media, 54% use them for texting, and 24% use them for instant messaging. Thus, a large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cell phones.”1 The metrics above are staggering as they are disturbing. If our younger generation is spending the bulk of their time virtually, that means the art of face-to-face social interactive development is left to the back burner and suffering. Suggesting that as the younger generations grow up, they will unquestionably lack the adequate social skills of communicating on a face-to-face basis.
We can herewith say that a large portion of youths, adolescents, and even adults use text messages in their daily lives more than they use any other form of communication, including face-to-face interaction. This is particularly troubling to say the very least. For the most part, this generation is receiving social and emotional training from social media and no longer from educational institutions, religious organizations, or their nuclear families. This is an alarming socio-tectonic-rift-and-shift of how our current day society is interacting with themselves. So, while social media is a quick way to learn and communicate, it has many downsides to it, the most prominent cons being the deception for which social media is known for. People can portray a false persona on social media. We have seen cases where people have represented themselves falsely, met up with the people they were supposedly socializing with and committed heinous crimes in the process ranging from theft, predatorial sexual crimes, kidnap, and even homicides, just to mention but a few.
Also worthy of mention is the negative impact of social media on people through cyberbullying, “Facebook depression,” sexting, and exposure to inappropriate content, and the lavish faux lifestyles.1 It is pertinent to mention these variations in other to ensure that parents of adolescents are aware of what their wards are going through. Furthermore, on social media, we see a lot of glitter, glamor, and the portrayal of fake lifestyles that are far from reality. People portray themselves as perfect and flawless. For instance, scrolling through Instagram pages, you will see a cartload of people who present themselves as impeccable, were in the actual sense of things, they are not that flawless physically and sometimes in character. Some individuals looking at these fake people may begin to feel intimidated and inferior with themselves. This inferiority complex eventually affects their perception of themselves, especially when these persons are within their age range. As we mentioned earlier, there are positive and negative impacts of social media. The question we must now answer is, “What’s your social media impact?”
“Shallow emotions. An incapacity to feel genuine love. A need for stimulation. Frequent verbal outbursts. Poor behavioral controls. These are just some of the things that social media are encouraging in all of us. They’re also a pretty comprehensive diagnostic checklist for sociopathy—in fact, that’s where I got the list.” — Milo Yiannopoulos
Is the social media culture eroding face-to-face social interactions? We are inclined to assert that social media is fast facilitating the erosion of face-to-face interactions. The impact of the advent and advancement of global information technology on society, as it pertains to social media, is unmistakably visible with is attendant pros and cons as we have considered in the preceding paragraphs. People are spending more time with their virtual-reality selves, and their real lives are fast being relegated to the back burner. What you feed will grow, what you neglect and starve will diminish. Social media is feeding the frenzy of the public to pursue virtual reality, which is leading to the neglect of the real substance of interpersonal connectivity and in-person social awareness. How sustainable will this trend be in molding the psyche of the future generation? Will people become utterly numb to social-reality?
The fact remains that social media is the new and future fad of socialization and it is here to stay, and its future will unquestionably become more and more sophisticated as digital technology advances. New advancements will be seen in the social media macrocosm. Who knows—we may even see and experience socialization via holographic projections in the advanced future of social media interactivity with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI). We are sure that the future of social media will be replete with a Herculean load of surprises to say the very least. However, we need to re-evaluate how much we use social media. As the future of social media speeds towards us faster than we can say, “Jack Robinson,” we need to begin re-educating our younger generation on the importance of the social skills of face-to-face interaction. Doing this will help improve their psycho-social skills when it comes to social interactions with the rest of the human element. More face-to-face interaction will help reduce the falsities that exist in the virtual reality continuum. People need more face-to-face reality interactions and not too much of virtual reality interactions. The earlier we begin this re-education, the better we would be able to remedy the psycho-social future of the human element. A stitch, they say, saves nine. Let us, therefore, start the stitching while we still could do so. A word is enough for the wise. Let us, hence, redeem our psycho-social future.
- O’Keeffe, G.S., Clarke-Pearson, K., & Council on Communications and Media. (2011). The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report, 127(4), 800-804. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-0054.
Cyberbullying – The New Face of Bullying
Cyberbullying is communications or postings online designed to inflict pain, hurt, threaten, embarrass, annoy, blackmail, or otherwise target another person. Don’t be a victim―protect yourself. Read all about it!
Cyberbullying is harassment through virtual or electronic means, usually done anonymously. In simpler terms, it is harassing people about specific things about their personality across the Internet. Most of these cases were reported on social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Twitter. Hence, it is imperative to discuss this malignant societal variation because of how the Internet, especially social media, has become part and parcel of our everyday lives.
“Cyberbullying is not a spectator sport. When and if you see it happening, resist, stay informed and aware of how you can help and take some steps to champion against it.” ― Germany Kent.
According to the Pew Research Center, 59% of United States teens have been victims of one of six types of abusive online behaviors. The offensive online actions and the percentages of those polled (743 teens and 1,058 parents living in the U.S. conducted March 7 to April 10, 2018) are as follows: Offensive name-calling (42%); spreading of false rumors (32%); receiving explicit images they didn’t ask for (25%); constant asking of where they are, what they are doing, who they’re with, by someone other than their parent (21%); physical threats (16%); and having an explicit image of them shared without their consent (7%).
There are various initiatives out there for fighting against cyberbullying. The Megan Meier Foundation is one such organization. It is an organization founded by Tina Meier in 2007 in commemoration of the life of her daughter, Megan after she fell victim to cyberbullying and took her own life. Their mission and vision are “To Support and Inspire Actions to End Bullying, Cyberbullying, and Suicide,” and “To live in a world where bullying and cyberbullying no longer exist,” respectively. The Megan Meier Foundation published a report in 2016, stating that 64% of students enrolled in weight loss programs due to weight-based bullying and online harassment because of their weight.
While most of the cyberbullying victims may be reportedly showing no physical or long-lasting adverse reaction per se, or even taking the insults well like a duck on the water; however, there could be a set of negatively affected people with scars to show for the abuse they faced. Some signs of cyberbullying are as follows: abnormal mood changes (e.g., heightened depression, fear, or anxiety); skipping school or generally avoiding friends or school activities; nervousness; sleeping and eating disorders, an aversion to technology, etc. Some people have been known to take their lives because of depression exacerbated by cyberbullying. For this reason, many are referring to cyberbullying as the new face of bullying.
There is a correlation between the growth of social media platforms and an increase in cyberbullying rate. It seems that this is a significant reason why cyberbullying has grown into the menace it is today. These days, having two thousand followers on Twitter has been translated into being a famous person. People who lack standard social interaction etiquette have begun to consider their opinions on social media as an essential contribution to everyday social interaction. As a result, they feel they can harass anyone without concern for the effects of their words.
Here’s a real-life example that took place, albeit the actual persons’ names are held back as anonymous. A young man made a post on Twitter, which he claimed was factual, and about three hundred persons had retweeted this story. Down the road, a lady with a not so attractive avatar came on the tweet to denounce the Tweet, posting verifiable evidence that the claim wasn’t exactly accurate as the young man claimed. She encouraged people to make an extra effort to verify the information before retweeting them, especially on social media, since information reaches millions of people quickly online.
Any sane person would have appreciated the young lady’s effort to rectify the original poster’s misinformation, but most social media persons are not exactly reasonable. So, the young man clicked on the lady’s avatar, saved the image, and started to cast aspersions on her person. He leveraged that he had a significant online following on Twitter to get back at the lady who called him out. He accused her of not minding her business on social media because she was ugly. People on social media, male and female alike, began to retweet the post, asking people to stay in their lane and mind their business.
While social media can be a fun way of interacting, it is necessary to sometimes think about its effect. In this instance, the girl in question was utterly unknown to the bully. None of the people who joined in bashing her was aware of her mental and emotional state. The only way anyone could confirm she was alive was because her Twitter account continued to function normally. There are reports where ‘slight’ things like this have driven people into a heightened state of depression and forced many to take their lives. The psychology of a cyberbully is something that needs examination. Cyberbullies can be from any race, gender, social class, or sexual orientation.
A victim of cyberbullying in one scenario can be a perpetrator in another situation, depending on the issue at hand. It is a phenomenon that arises as a result of the innate need to be respected. Unfortunately, this need is manifested by the tendency to put others down. Many who become bullies themselves do so because they suffer from an inferiority complex and are just lashing out to feel better about themselves. Cyberbullies master the art of telescoping the vices they are suffering from unto unsuspecting victims. If they are not having a good day, then no one will have a good day around them.
The COVID-19 Pandemic led to the global lockdown that lasted through most of the year in 2020. Due to this, many social interactions transitioned online. Because of this transition, there is likely an increase in cyberbullying, especially among the younger generation. Hence, for parents, there is a need to be cognizant of what your wards are doing online. It would be very careless of parents not to engage their children to ascertain their psychological state of mind. If there is any cyberbullying, you can help squelch any sign of hostile virtual engagements via your engagement.
Be the responsible parent and be aware of what your children are doing online? We are in the age of Fortnite, where kids are interacting with their friends, classmates, and sometimes strangers online—are you 100% sure that they are not victims of cyberbullying. Be the responsible parent and be aware of their state and what they are doing in the virtual. Do not be a careless parent that does not show any concern with what your kids are doing in the virtual world. Be smart, be wise, and be proactive in preserving the innocence of your wards. Let’s stop cyberbullying at its tracks.
Are you a victim of cyberbullying? Do not keep silent. Do not drown in depression. Speak up and share your experiences with your parents if you are a young victim. Keeping quiet means that you are letting the cyberbully win. Don’t be the victim! Don’t be the loser! Help is only an ask away—provided you are communicating with the right person that can counsel you in such a situation. Speaking up gives you the power to regain your confidence and become victorious against the cyberbully’s aspersions. It would be best if you took the bulls of bullying by the horn and fight. Ask for help in the right quarters, and you will receive it. Seek assistance, and you will find the right resources to help yourself. Knock on the right doors, and the excellent service you need will let you in.
You are not alone. Get Help Now! Are you a victim of cyberbullying, then make it a duty to get the help y that you need in your situation? Are you or someone you know at immediate risk of harm? You can report this to the authorities—Call 911. Are you feeling hopeless, helpless, or even thinking of suicide? That is not the best way out of your situation. Talk to someone by contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Are you acting differently than usual? Are you always sad or anxious, or even struggling to complete tasks? Talk to someone. Are you being cyberbullied in school online—then talk to your teacher, school counselor, principal, etc.? No matter what, don’t give up—Help is out there—Seek it out.
“Checking in on what our kids are doing online isn’t ‘helicoptering,’ it’s ‘parenting.” ― Galit Breen.
We have the power to change the rising trend of cyberbullying. First, there is a need for a fierce online campaign to educate users of social media sites about the possibility of harming the mental and psychological health of others with words and memes. Second, there must be stricter penalties for hate speech and other forms of degrading use of words. Taking this measure will eventually make social media a safe space for positive interaction. Third, don’t let it sink in—Don’t allow the rain of the cyberbully’s assaults to slip into your subconscious. No one deserves to be oppressed. Fourth, eschew any form of retaliation; it turns you into a bully too. Fifth, save the breadcrumbs or evidence. Should the case escalate, the evidence created by the cyber troll will be used to bring them down. Finally, sixth, speak out! You must reach out for help!
Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood, and All Other “-woods”
An American musician named Jim Morrison once said that whoever controls the media, controls the mind. Such is the tremendous influence that media can have on mass populations.
An American musician named Jim Morrison once said that whoever controls the media, controls the mind. Such is the tremendous influence that media can have on mass populations. Little wonder why the West has been so useful and successful in making other parts of the world adopt their way of life as the most ideal. The world listens to their music, watch their film, and wear their fashion because, on a subconscious level, the world has bought into the ideas that they have been selling to everyone for decades. Of all the areas where the West in general, and the United States of America has been most effective in selling their dream, one industry has shone the brightest—its film industry, Hollywood.
Hollywood is originally a place in Los Angeles, California in the United States of America. It is a neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles. Today though, at the mention of the name, everyone has a common idea of what it means—not just a place but the famous film producing hub of the United States of America, home of dreams for many thespians and even anyone. Hollywood has become the destination holly-land of everyone who aspires to make it big in the motion picture industry—all roads lead to Hollywood for all aspiring actors, actresses, and other celebrities in the entertainment world. The success of Hollywood has inspired other film industries in other countries to adopt the suffix, “-wood,” as an indicator of their ambition to match its greatness.
“Hollywood is a special place; a place filled with creative geniuses—actors, screenwriters, directors, sound engineers, computer graphics specialists, lighting experts and so on. Working together, great art happens. But in the end, all artists depend on diverse audiences who can enjoy, be inspired by and support their work.” — Ryan Kavanaugh
Bollywood, India’s movie production engine, is an example of this shift to match the greatness of Hollywood. There is also Nigeria’s fast-growing movie industry, Nollywood. Add to this some other lesser known industries like Ghollywood in Ghana, Lollywood in Pakistan, Hallyuwood in South Korea, Wakaliwood in Uganda and Hillywood in Rwanda, and you can see just how much Hollywood has influenced film industries the world over. These industries have their peculiarities regarding plots and themes, budget, language and the revenue they generate. Generally, the film industry is one to be taken seriously by its government as it returns much revenue and could add to the GDP of a country’s economy.
Hollywood is known to make films cutting across genres and even creating sub-genres with well-defined plots, strong characters that the audience come to idolize, which could move into other cinema works, predominantly in English, astute film technology with production spanning through an extended period and are allotted huge budgets. The distribution system is also well structured with support from the government that establishes laws that fight against copyright infringement that could ensue from movie piracy. This directly influences the financial returns made and the reason why Hollywood cannot accurately be said to be the most significant film producing industry in the world—but it still is because of the structure in the system that supports it and the immense amount of funding available to the industry. The industry compared to the other two, Bollywood and Nollywood, produces 500 films on the average yearly with an average film budget of $13 million. Worthy of note is the point that two-thirds of Hollywood’s profits come from outside the American frontiers.
“The true treasure lies within. It is the underlying theme of the songs we sing, the shows we watch and the books we read. It is woven into the Psalms of the Bible, the ballads of the Beatles and practically every Bollywood film ever made. What is that treasure? Love. Love is the nature of the Divine.” — Radhanath Swami
Bollywood is built around stories of estranged lovers, corrupt politicians, and so on, with a portrayal of the Indian culture. The films are always laced with an extended dance sequence, music, made in the local language, features beautiful places, actors, and actresses. Indian films have a long duration above the typical feature film standard length. The use of the local language with only a tiny percentage made in English is a limiting factor with just a one-fifth of the profit coming from the international market. However, this doesn’t demean the demand and quality of Indian films as an average of 1000 films are produced yearly on a $1.3million average budget, and there is the apparent advancement in film technology as seen in these films. Bollywood continues to advance in the quality of movies that the industry churns out.
With not as much technology and budget level as her two counterparts, the Nigerian film industry doesn’t make as much money yet is responsible for about 1.4% of the nation’s GDP making it a valuable resource. Shooting films within a space of days and releasing them into the market in months on a meager budget (average of $15,000), the industry can churn out over 2000 films in a year causing it to be the most extensive film producing industry in the world. The possibilities of Nollywood are immense and endless. If the enabling environment is provided that supports the movie industry in Nigeria, as it relates to the rule of law concerning the variation of movie piracy, which cuts into the profits of those in the Nollywood movie industry—there is hope for Nollywood. There is a possibility that Nollywood could overtake Hollywood in the future in the amount of revenue it generates—mark the word “could,” although it will be an uphill battle.
Within the past decades, it has evolved and keeps evolving even without a secure distribution channel. The rule of law is not as strong in Nigeria when compared to that of the United States or even India’s Bollywood. In the United States, movie piracy is a direct infringement on Intellectual Property Rights and attracts hefty penalties, fines that could run into the millions of dollars, or even imprisonment if found guilty of such crimes. The rule of law plays to the favor of Hollywood, making it the highest earning movie industry in the world. The same cannot be said about Nollywood. However, despite the lax rule of law which is not in favor of the movie industry in Nigeria, the successful evolution of Nollywood continues. This success can be attributed to the doggedly relentless talents ready to make films in Nigeria, and the demanding market.
However, with the developments in Digitization, Video-On-Demand platforms could serve as a ready avenue to side-step the perennial headaches of market access and piracy. Nollywood films are now going to festivals and getting respect for being unapologetically Nigerian. For instance, with the likes of Genevieve Nnaji producing “Lionheart,” an outstanding work that marked her directorial debut, featured at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on September 8, 2018. It is also interesting to note that Netflix has bought the movie “Lionheart,” and this is an immense stride for Nollywood—thanks to Genevieve Nnaji. The movie “Lionheart,” is a catalyst for many things to come from Nollywood in the near and distant future. It may be an uphill climb, however, with persistence, they will keep breaking into the international circle.
“Lionheart provided an atmosphere where I could showcase the things that made me proud of my culture, talents, and values.” — Genevieve Nnaji
Lingering on “Lionheart,” on Richard Quest’s show, “Quest Means Business,” Genevieve Nnaji answered Richard’s question on why Netflix decided to buy the rights of the movie, making it the breakout movie for the Nollywood industry. In her words, she established that the movie, “Lionheart,” was authentic, as it was also qualitative. In her very own words as we can see in the CNN YouTube clip above, the movie “provided an atmosphere where she could showcase the things that made her proud of her culture, talents, and values.” Her emphasis was not quantity, but quality. However, she hit the nail on the head by positing that the variation that Nollywood faces is the issue of funding. Nollywood does not have the adequate funding for movies that they intend to see go global, and that is ball and chain on the ankle of the Nollywood industry.
“Nollywood must celebrate the things that make us Africans—our culture. In trying to emulate Hollywood, Nollywood must not forget its roots, its Africanism. Nollywood must celebrate its Nigerian-hood. It must celebrate its many ethnicities, languages, music, fashion, food, and the daily nuances that make Nollywood African, and Nigerians as a whole.” — Ogbonnaya Agom-Eze
What next for Nollywood? Nollywood and the other “-woods” should borrow a leaf from Bollywood first, and then from Hollywood next. How? Bollywood is known for churning out movies that are opulent with culture-infused themes that are unique to them. Watch Bollywood movies, they celebrate their culture and are unapologetic for it. Nollywood must celebrate the things that make us Africans—our culture. In trying to emulate Hollywood, Nollywood must not forget its roots, its Africanism. Nollywood must celebrate its Nigerian-hood. It must celebrate its many ethnicities, languages, music, fashion, food, and the daily nuances that make Nollywood African, and Nigerians as a whole. In borrowing a leaf from Hollywood, more stringent laws must be put in place by the government to protect the industry. Also, there needs to be more goodwill relating to funding for the industry to help boost the quality of movies produced. There will be more to come from its coffers in the future, all things being equal.
Generally, the film industry is one that continues to influence people widely, pushes for change socially, politically, and culturally. We have seen how Hollywood is motivating other cultures to explore the robust opportunities of expanding their own movie industries. The movie industry as we have also seen is of high relevance to the economy of a nation. Provided these movie industries continue to provide employment and livelihood for creatives and inspire with storylines—we can say that the more “-woods” there are, the better!
Spectators vs. Actors
Life is also the same. You can either be an actor or a spectator. Actors are those who have taken the bold steps of achieving great feats as they pursue their sundry dreams and aspirations. Some people are just satisfied being spectators, gliding through life cheering or jeering on the influential actors of life.
Going to the movie theater is always a fun experience. It’s fun to sit there, over a bowl of yummy popcorn and a drink of your choice. We watch the actors that we love, and we rave about their movies in their various genres. These actors have spent the bulk of their time honing their craft. For this reason, as spectators, we support their craft and enjoy the product of their talents at work. There are also times that we watch some actors or actresses, but we do not enjoy the product of their craft due to a bad performance.
Life is also the same. You can either be an actor or a spectator. Actors are those who have taken the bold steps of achieving great feats as they pursue their sundry dreams and aspirations. My take on life is that we all become actors and accomplish great things. However, this is a matter of choice and drive. Not everyone becomes a principal actor on the stage of life. Some people are just satisfied being spectators, gliding through life cheering or jeering on the influential actors of life. In life, not all spectators are applauding you or chanting your praise to achieve all that you can become. Some spectators are jeering at you with disdain. Some are secretly wishing that you fail so that they can laugh at your failure with pleasure and disdain. According to Kelechi’s video, “some spectators are there to catch the very details of your failure.”
“Don’t be a spectator in the arena of life. Become an actor and live out the best dreams of your potential possibilities.”
The cheers that we get from spectators are very encouraging. However, as we see, not all spectators are there to cheer you on for good. Some are there to jeer at you out of jealousy and envy. Should you encounter the later, you cannot live your life waiting for these kinds of spectators to change their perceptions and perspectives and start cheering you on as you accomplish your life feats. In such circumstances, you need to be a cheerleader for yourself. As an actor on the stage of life, you must develop a thick skin to weather the storms and challenges that you face. Be resolute as you put your ideas to work. Let the scorn of jeering spectators be the fuel that supplies the energy to surge on forward.
If the former is your lot, keep those positive spectators around you to keep nudging you forward. Let their cheers be the fuel that spurs you forward towards achieving greater things. Do not be discouraged when spectators have an unenthusiastic opinion of you. What matters always is your will to keep moving forward as you attain the lofty goals and ambitions of life. Finally, do not let people’s idea of who you should be, frame whom you become. If you already an actor, never give up—keep acting and rising in your craft. If you are a spectator, I encourage you to aspire to become an actor and beginning honing your distinguishing potentials. If you chose to remain a spectator in life, then be positive rather than a negative one.
A national holiday is usually a non-working day, often recognized by law or determined by custom, and annually observed in remembrance of an event of social importance, or religious significance.
In the same way, as there is no country without its national emblems or anthems, there is also no country without a national holiday. A national holiday is usually a non-working day, often recognized by law or determined by custom, and annually observed in remembrance of an event of social importance, or religious significance. In many countries, national holidays are referred to as civic holidays, legal holidays, public holidays, and bank holidays.
The number of national holidays that countries have may vary regarding their frequency and significance. Independence Day, for instance, is often celebrated on the anniversary of colonial independence. For example, the United States of America’s Independence Day is the 4th of July. Independence Day celebrations carry a massive meaning for countries that were under colonizers or imperial supervision for decades. On this day, events are held commemorating the historical, political, and socio-cultural significance of the day, and most times, they engender a sense of patriotism and nationalism rarely demonstrated on other days.
“Holidays—any holiday—are such a great opportunity to focus on bringing the family together.” — Lidia Bastianich
National holidays are also used to mark and remember other significant days such as critical religious dates, workers day, or days set aside to honor fallen heroes in a nation’s military and those who are still actively serving in various arms of the military (e.g., Veteran’s Day). Some of these holidays were days set aside by institutions and nations to honor past patrons of various religions, political leaders, and notable patriots (e.g., Martin Luther King Jr. Day). Most countries have a designated date for holidays of this nature, while some other countries (e.g., Jamaica) have fluctuating dates and times depending on mitigating factors. For instance, August 6, Jamaica’s Independence Day, fell on a Sunday in 2017; thus, it was observed on August 7, a Monday.
The concept and observance of public holidays across the globe is not a new aspect of human existence. Though sewn into the fabric of modern cultural practices, national holidays are not a recent phenomenon, as the observance of special dates and occasions has been an integral part of the human civilization. The word “holiday” stems from the Old English word hāligdæg, with the hālig meaning “holy” and dæg meaning “day.” This word was incipiently only associated with special religious occasions but soon evolved to cover political, historical, and cultural days as well.
“Our many different cultures notwithstanding, there’s something about the holidays that makes the planet communal. Even nations that do not celebrate Christmas can’t help but be caught up in the collective spirit of their neighbors, as twinkling lights dot the landscape and carols fill the air. It’s an inspiring time of the year.” — Marlo Thomas
The oldest national holidays are those involving seasons and celestial bodies and were celebrated with many festivities taking place, sometimes lasting for weeks. The Indo-Persian festival Nowruz, which dates back to 3,000 years ago, is regarded by many historians as the oldest national holiday event in the world. Observed on March 21 every year, it’s a holy day in the Zoroastrian religion and is celebrated worldwide by various ethnolinguistic communities across as the beginning of the New Year. Nowruz is officially recognized as New Year Day in Iran.
Nepal, with a total of 36 national holidays, is the country with the most national holidays in the world, although some of these holidays are mostly regional and religious. Cambodia is a distant second with 28, Sri Lanka, at third place, has 25, and is closely followed by India in fourth place with 21 national holidays. Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, and the Philippines all have 18, while China has 17 national holidays. Sweden, with 15 days, is the European country that has the most national holidays. Nigeria has 12, while the United States of America has 10. Mexico is the country that has the least number of national holidays with 7, although the government allows for its citizens to celebrate arbitrary holidays at their discretion.
“I always believe holidays strengthen the family bond, away from our hectic daily schedules.” — Chiranjeevi
In 2011 the addition of two provisional holidays cost the British economy £30 billion and sparked the introduction of a bill by members of parliament intended to scrap certain national holidays and merge others to reduce the adverse effects on the British economy. However, this was only a one-off incident because national holidays in the United Kingdom remain a major attraction for tourists, with Britain being ranked the world’s 8th most significant global tourist destination—rating boosted mainly by the visits of 36.115 million tourists in 2015.
In many developing countries, tourism is the most significant contributor to their economy, and national holidays provide a convenient time for tourists and foreigners to experience and explore the local culture. Even for the locals, national holidays offer an avenue for shopping, mass sales, feasting, and relaxation. Whether secular or religious, national holidays improve social engagement, promote a sense of cultural heritage. It fosters economic activity and reminds the citizenry of the values and historical significance of dates. More than anything, what national holidays do is ensure the preservation of identity in the face of globalization.
What are your national holidays? Share through the comments below.
The Culture of Inclusivity is Fast Fading Away
Inclusivity is the fact or policy of not excluding members or participants on the grounds of gender, race, class, sexuality, disability, etc. The inability of some communities or groups of people to accept changes in the dynamics of human relationships and co-existence makes it difficult for inclusion to be the mainstay in many cultures today.
To each his own—people are free to like or prefer different things in life. One wonders if this is the watchword of many societies these days, considering that inclusivity seems to be dying a slow and gradual death. Inclusivity is the fact or policy of not excluding members or participants on the grounds of gender, race, class, sexuality, disability, etc. The inability of some communities or groups of people to accept changes in the dynamics of human relationships and co-existence makes it difficult for inclusion to be the mainstay in many cultures today. We have seen the evidence of this in workplaces, sports, education, immigration, and so on. However, this begs the question of why it is difficult for individuals, organizations, and governments to accept diversity. In this essay, we will look, though briefly, at some of the reasons why inclusivity—as an acceptable culture that makes common sense—is dying.
A Little Thanks to Racism
Racism must be one of the most protracted battles humanity is continually fighting. Can we say that we are overly optimistic that there is a yearning for cultural diversity and acceptance in our societies? Maybe not. However, racism is one of the primary reasons to blame for why the culture of inclusion is leaving many societies. In the soccer world, for instance, some players of specific races (e.g., Black) in distinct regions are subject to racist chants and gestures. For example, Mario Balotelli, an Italian footballer, has been cited to have left the Italian Series A because of the many racist gestures he suffered from opposition fans and players during his time there. Moreover, this is just a snapshot of the many who were forced to leave countries that have populace exhibiting these qualities because the society failed to accept them for their race, cultural, ethnic heritage, or some difference or the other. The same occurs in schools too, where children from different races or cultural heritage experience bullying for their ethnic background. To be honest, this is a sad state of ignorance, to say the very least.
“We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.” — Barack Obama
Immigration & Ethnicity
The movement of people across the borders of various nations is as old as man. For some reason or the other, man has always migrated across nation-lines in the pursuit of greener pastures. For instance, over time, there has been a need for citizens of underdeveloped countries to move from their places of birth to economies that are more conducive. However, these people, because of certain limitations that have to do with cultural orientations have found it difficult to assimilate into new societies. This difficulty is rarely due to a challenge in learning new languages or adopting new cultures. The reason may be due to certain factors such as immigration policies of the host nation. Some of these policies may be harsh, making it difficult for migrants to assimilate fully into those societies. Sometimes, it could also be that the populace of the host nation is not welcoming the notion of having migrants in their country, and as a result, treat them harshly. In other words, assimilation and inclusion becomes a nightmare to these migrants. Harsh treatment of the other, the migrants, may stem from a place of hate. Sometimes, it may also originate from past experiences with previous migrants, who in the stead of behaving logically, revert to a life of crime, making the host populace averse to the assimilation of new migrants.
When people move to a new country for the first time, they often need a period for which they would have to settle into the new environment. The palatability of assimilating into such societies mostly hinges on the acceptance or rejection they face from the original inhabitants of such communities or nations. People naturally gravitate towards places where they are welcome. People are generally drawn to an ambiance of tolerance. For instance, what has made the United States of America and many parts of the Western world what they are today, on a large note, can be attributed to the rule of diversity. For example, the name United States of America signifies a melting pot of many cultures, a cauldron of the hybridization of humanity. I am sure that all races and all kinds of people make up the United States and in many nations of the developed world at a macro level. From a macro perspective, we see heterogeneity. However, it is when you dive into the oceans of such heterogeneity that you start seeing some schisms in how we treat each other in the micro sense of society. We need to rise above this to a higher plane of logical reasoning for living. We need to stop rationalizing at an altitude of two thousand feet and start thinking from ten thousand feet and above level that is beyond petty and riddled with cultural acceptance of the human element for what it is.
The issue of inclusivity or non-inclusivity is not just prevalent where two or more races of people are involved. Sometimes, we see the cancer of non-inclusivity among people of the same race, but varying ethnicities. For instance, we have had cases of Xenophobia (i.e., the fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers in different countries or fear or dislike of the customs, dress, etc., of people who are culturally different from oneself), both in Western and African societies. For example, in the most recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa, where individual members of South African communities were responsible for the deadly assault of citizens of other African countries is a typical example. Isn’t that sad? Same racial makeup, but different ethnicities at play—yet, the inhabitants of the nation still spewing hatred and violence against their kind because of varying ethnicities. As gut-wrenching as this may sound, it is happened and may be happening in other places that have not been cited as an instance.
Sadly, one sits back and marvels at such display of hate that landed many in hospitals and even claiming the lives of some. Now, that is a perspective to ruminate on. In the case of these xenophobic attacks, one wonders why people who share the same racial origin would home in on the difference of ethnicities and inflict such harm on others. One would first think that being from the same racial pedigree or makeup would be a point that unites all as one rather than becoming a source of discord. These things make it difficult for inclusivity and diversity to have a home in most societies. The need to blame others for our weaknesses, or the failure to accept others as part of the human element, has also been the reason why many people who have migrated to these hostile nations have had to go back to their former communities. For those that suffered these attacks, would it not have been much better to endure hardship in their home countries, where there is acceptance than suffer harm or death in an ecosystem where you’re not wanted? Well, the answer to this question is entirely subjective. If all things were equal, people would not migrate away from their societies. So, what are the catalysts that motivate people to move from their nations to other countries?
A lot of things can cause someone or a group of individuals to dislocate from their current geographic settlements in search of better habituations—it could be push or pull factors . Pull factors are the things that draw people to consider wanting to emigrate from their own nation to another nation. For instance, first, some pull factors are development and industrialization and hope for better jobs with better remunerations. Second, the ease of travel is another pull factor—people are now able to travel from one place to the other very fast and efficiently by air, land, and sea. Third, the advance means of communication by phone and through the Internet has made the world a global village. This ease of communication is a pull factor in drawing people to developed nations. We can communicate with people in other lands because of the channels that the World Wide Web provides. Fourth, there is a sharp birth rate decline in many industrialized nations leading to labor shortages and the need for skilled workers (e.g., consider Australia and Canada). Because of this, people tend to migrate towards these nations that are seeking more labor. Fifth, stable democracies and the religious freedom is another pull factor.
Sixth, the rapid growth of global economies pulls people to those nations that are experiencing such a growth. Seventh, English is predominantly spoken in many lands, and the language factor pulls people to different places. Eight, the prospect for greener pastures cause people to want to emigrate. If the above factors are drawing people from various countries to developed nations or more desirable locales, then it clearly forms a basis of why inclusion is important and the need for it not to fade away. With the mass movement of people to new geographic locations, the discussion of assimilation, inclusion, and diversity becomes of paramount note. On the flip side, what are the push factors pushing people away from their locales to search for greener pastures? First, is the bleak outlook when it comes to career advancement. Second, is poverty and low incomes in parent nations. Third, is high unemployment rates. Fourth, is the variation of poor human rights. Fifth, is internal conflict and war. Sixth, are natural disasters, climate, change, and famine. Pull and push factors are responsible for the global movement of people. Because of these factors, it is therefore imperative for diversity, inclusion, tolerance to be at the forefront of creating harmonious societies across the globe.
“We are a nation of communities… a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.” —George H. W. Bush
Myopic Understanding of Humanity
Another factor that contributes to the fading away of the culture of inclusivity is a myopic understanding of humanity. A lot of people lack the basic knowledge of what it means to be human. This lack of informed perception forms the foundations of our attitudes and how we treat each other. Yes, we are uniquely different in our human makeup. Certain protected statuses distinguish humanity. Such protected statues include Race, National Origin, Ethnic Background, Religious Beliefs, Age, Pregnancy, Gender, and Sexual Orientation; Family status, Disability status, Veteran status, and Genetic information. Our difference should be a point of unity, not a point of separation—our differences should be what brings us together, it should not be what divides us. People who are shortsighted about their view of humanity focus on the differences that distinguish us as unique as a point that should divide us. We are human—more things should unite us together than separate us.
For instance, whether you are Caucasian, Black, or of Asiatic origin, we all breathe the same oxygen, right? Does oxygen discriminate of whose lungs it should go into to sustain life? No. We all breathe the same air to stay alive. So, if we breathe the same oxygen and share the various essentials that keep the biology, physiology, and biochemistry of a human alive; why then do we not see ourselves as just human and just get along? The Dictionary defines a human being as “any individual of the genus Homo, especially a member of the species Homo sapiens.” We might have different dermal tones; however, we are still human. Take away the –dermis, we are all tissue and bones—we will all look the same. So, why are some people so bleary-eyed at the concept of humanity that we treat others as sub-humans with so much disdain and sometimes inflict harm on others? It is just plain ignorance to do so, a lack of understanding of the concept of humanity.
“We have created a society where individual rights and freedoms; compassion and diversity are core to our citizenship. But underlying that idea of Canada is the promise that we all have a chance to build a better life for ourselves and our children.” — Justin Trudeau
Another instance that shows the concept of being myopic in understanding the concept of humanity is the soldier analogy. If you belong to a company of soldiers and you are in the thick of a firefight against an enemy, hunkered down in a foxhole, as hell-razing bullets zip ahead in desperate fury looking for flesh to penetrate and extinguish life. In such a scenario, soldiers become brothers and sisters in arms. Whether you are white, black, Latino, Asian, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Man, Woman, etc., none of that matters. The point of focus in such a heated scenario is watching each other’s backs to subdue the foe. In such a scenario, all differences are forgotten, and people who are uniquely different unite to fight a common cause. Why don’t we as humans see ourselves in this light? Why do we focus on what makes us uniquely human and dwell on it to divide ourselves more? We need to embrace humanity as humanity and not be myopic about the concept of unified mankind that void is desolate of understanding.
The truth remains that cultural inclusivity is a crucial contributor to economic development of nations. If the populace of a host nation is hostile to the immigration of people to their country, it could lead the nation towards a downward spiral economically. For instance, what would happen if all the skilled immigrant workers in the United States right now immigrated to China? The economy will take a severe uppercut to the jugular. There are a lot of talented immigrant workers from all over the globe here in the United States, helping make America great in every sense of it. Many developed nations of the world are benefiting from the pull factor that draws talent from all over the world to their nations. If they should all up and leave, the country will go into a downward spiral economically. This is a fact and that is why we see a lot of Fortune 500 companies fight policies coming out of Washington, D.C., that is non-immigrant friendly. Why is that? Because a lot of talents in the rank and file of their payroll are immigrants from other nations of the world.
We see inclusion fading away in many places and it is a trend that we must make concerted efforts to combat. The world need to come to the realization that we are becoming more integral in nature. It will continue to be so because of globalization. The earlier we start accepting ourselves as humans the better. In summary, first, we have seen that racism is partially to blame. Racism is ignorance at its peak. Secondly, we have seen that immigration and ethnic variances also contribute to the fading away of diversity and inclusion. Finally, thirdly, we have seen that a lot of people are just culturally astigmatic and fail to understand humanity. The acceptance of inclusion from social focus provides everyone with lasting benefits. It is only right that we embrace it completely.