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Doing it for likes: The downside of social media

Updated: Mar 6

Let's talk about something many of us can relate to: social media. As PR folks, we've seen firsthand how it can be a powerful tool, but also a bit of a tricky beast. It's like a double-edged sword – one side can launch you into stardom, while the other can really mess with your head. We've all heard of influencers who seem to have it all together, but there's often more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye. Take the recent "Dr Matthew" saga, for example. It's a classic case of the highs and lows of social media.

So, what happened with "Dr Matthew," aka Sanele Zingelwa? Well, this guy managed to build quite a following by pretending to be a doctor on platforms like TikTok. He was dishing out medical advice, promoting products, and living that influencer life. But when the truth came out that he wasn't actually a licensed doc, things went downhill, fast. He got nabbed trying to enter a hospital in Johannesburg, where he'd been filming his videos. Turns out, the Gauteng Health department and the Health Professions Council of South Africa both confirmed he wasn't the real deal. This whole mess is a reminder that chasing social media fame can come with some serious consequences.

Now, let's get real about the not-so-glamorous side of social media. It's no secret that it can mess with our heads, big time. We're constantly bombarded with picture-perfect lives and #blessed moments, which can leave us feeling like we're falling short. That endless scroll of curated content? It can lead to major feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and even depression. And don't even get me started on the "like" button – it's become the ultimate validation tool. More likes, more self-esteem. Fewer likes? Hello, self-doubt.

This constant thirst for likes and comments can push people to do some pretty extreme stuff, like what "Dr Matthew" did. Claiming to have a medical degree when he didn't? Yeah, that's a prime example of the lengths some will go for that online approval. But it's not just influencers; everyday folks like you and me often only show the highlight reel of our lives, hiding the messy bits. This can create a warped view of reality, making us feel even more inadequate.

As PR pros, we get the power of authenticity. In the world of social media, authenticity is like gold. It's what builds genuine connections with your audience, way more valuable than a bunch of likes or followers. So, in the aftermath of "Dr Matthew," let's take a moment to think about how we use social media. It's all about finding that balance between sharing our lives and protecting our mental health.

We've got to lead by example, folks. Let's encourage our clients and colleagues to be true to themselves online, showing the good, the bad, and the real. Because at the end of the day, it's those authentic connections that truly matter. Let's focus on honesty and transparency, paving the way for a more genuine and impactful online world.

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