Social media
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Dubai: Do you check your WhatsApp messages first thing in the morning? Or scroll down your TikTok feed during tea break? And take it very seriously to share memes with your friends on Instagram? In short, you live on social media. Well, yesterday was World Social Media , so we spoke to some Gulf News readers in the UAE to find out how social media plays a role in their lives.

Discovering hobbies

For Siddharta Trivedi, a hotelier and photography enthusiast, it was Instagram, the multimedia-sharing app, which helped him discover his passion. He said: “For me social media has always been the finest platform to learn, follow the intellectuals, as well as share not only about travel or life’s experiences but also to rebuild my personality and values by sharing my insights and creations. Social media is the most fascinating, entertaining yet sensitive and significant mode of transferring and transforming information and thoughts. It has helped me in following my passion for writing and photography. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media channels are the fastest way to reach out to and influence many people. It also helps me in getting instant feedback on my work and ideas to do better each time. In brief, social media has helped me to rebuild, recreate and rediscover my own identity and connect me well with the society.”

The Indian expatriate who regularly shares his photographs through Gulf News’ Reader Picture Essays recollected how he connected with Gulf News through social media in 2020. He said: “Let me take you back to the summer of 2020. With the coronavirus restrictions, for the first time like everyone else, I had limitless spare time. In the depressed closet I finally stopped giving excuses to myself of not doing what I always wanted to do. After finishing my first ever article, I wanted to see it published in a prestigious newspaper or magazine. Gulf News replied to me. I was thrilled, and there I began my journey.”

Health, fashion and more

Raya Khalid, 27-year-old Iraqi expatriate based in Dubai said that social media is something that has removed all gaps between countries and people. She said: “It gives you more access and exposure to different cultures and ideologies in different countries. Now, you don’t need to travel to a country to understand what’s going on there, it’s instantly on social media.”

Khalid who is a fashion lover and a fitness enthusiast added: “If we take the fashion world, we don’t have to wait for magazines. When it comes to health and healthy eating, there are trainers and nutritionists who are publishing workout routines and other information on social media channels. Social media has made things easier.”

Working as a managing director of a Dubai-based company she relies on social media platforms to know what’s happening around the world. She added: “I like getting my information from Gulf News’ social media channels because you get to know everything happening in the UAE and the headlines are not misleading, they are clear, not clickbait. There is so much happening in everyone’s lives that the last thing people want to see is a misleading headline.”

Staying connected 

For most expatriates in the UAE, social media is a tool to stay connected with their friends and families back home. Filipina expatriate Karen An De Guzman said: “Social allows me to stay connected with my friends, family, and colleagues. Working overseas can be a daunting prospect, especially when making the move on your own. Social media has allowed me to stay connected with my family back home and share each other’s stories through phones and videos.”

World Social Media Day was launched by Mashable, a global media company, in 2010. It was established to recognise the impact of social media on global communication and to bring the world together to celebrate it.

Social media has also become an important tool for communication at workplaces. The 37-year-old working in the Human Resources (HR) and administration field added: “At work, using apps like WhatsApp has allowed me to become more than efficient when delivering projects, as I can connect with colleague quickly and respond to questions and enquiries without the need to take my laptop everywhere.”

Parenting support

Meanwhile, Indian expatriate and mum Alisha Roy felt that social media came to her rescue when she needed it most. She said: “My son who is turning four soon has recently started therapy to help him cope with his sensory issues many of which that fall under the Autistic spectrum. I did get resources from the therapists we're seeing, and friends and colleagues too. Google searches returned several inspiring stories about how people left for road trips for a change of environment. But I didn't want consolation. I wanted to make small changes without overturning our lives. After a casual search on Instagram and Tiktok, I discovered how so many therapists explained the finer details that I had been looking for. Most of them are mums and dads who like me are going through this journey. I now have mental health apps reminding me every day to love and accept my son the way he is. I'm most certainly addicted to social media because it helps me belong to a bigger community.”

Hacks and information

TikTok and Instagram hack videos have a fan base of their own. Roshal Mascarenhas, 27, a business owner and marketer added: “While social media has its pros and cons, as a marketer I do believe that social media can do more good than bad – especially in the scope of information and knowledge exchange. I’ve seen Tiktokers give the best hacks for business owners and even media outlets like Gulf News and many journalists give snack-sized content while I’m scrolling on Instagram. For me as an entrepreneur, it’s the best of both worlds!”

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