Local mom blogger shares how to preserve African culture in the age of social media
Kwanele Mbobo of XhosaMomUnplugged says a common concern raised by culturally conscious people about the adoption of social media, is that it has a negative impact on the younger generation by contributing tremendously to the erosion of the African culture.
Social media can be used to store memories, pictures and videos of events. (iStock)
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Social media has become a huge part of people’s everyday lives. People use social media to share special events in their lives, share their thoughts and opinions, use it as a way to remember special dates and to connect with the rest of society.

A common concern raised by culturally conscious people about the adoption of social media is that it has a negative impact on the younger generation by contributing tremendously to the erosion of the African culture.

There are however ways that social media can be used to preserve, educate and be used as a tool to sustain culture and heritage. Before we get into possible solutions and examples of how social media has got culture taking a backseat, let us first define culture.

Culture includes a combination of traits and characters that are peculiar to a people, to the extent that it marks them as apart from other peoples or societies. South Africa is known for its ethnic and cultural diversity.

Here are some examples of ways I feel culture has been compromised due to the use of social media:

Birth

According to many African cultures such as Zulu and Xhosa, babies cannot be seen by the public or non family members for the first 3 months after birth, however, due to the fast paced world of social media, this has become a cultural practice that is no longer respected.

Parents go as far as posting videos of the birthing process and it is becoming a norm.

Death

Many deaths are being announced on social media prematurely.

As part of African norms and values, there is a process that is followed in order to announce a death to friends and family.

Social media has caused people to express shock online when a person they know passes away and sometimes the first time family finds out about the death is from social media “friends”.

As much as the use of social media can result in the erosion of culture, there are ways it can be used top reserve and sustain it. Examples include: 

Shared Knowledge

Social media is about the content we consume and the content we share. Many brands focus on promoting western cultural trends, we need African brands that can focus on sharing content that promotes African culture and making it relevant and cool while doing so.

The most current and biggest social media trend is the use of influencers.

These are influential people on social media that society turns to for advice, opinions, and views. Influencers who show cultural pride can play a big role in influencing people to do the same.

Storing Knowledge and Memories

Social media can be used to store memories, pictures and videos of events. This helps form part of preserving culture as it assists people find interest in taking pictures and videos to share across the world.

This content can be accessed in the future showing future generations what culture means now.

Cultural diversity

Social media allows people the platform to share knowledge about their diverse cultures and these people learn to communicate and socialize with one another regardless of ethnicity, culture or geographical location.

If used correctly, social media can be the biggest way to affect the preservation of culture. Based on the above, it’s very clear that social media is not all bad.

There are multiple ways we can use it to promote positivity around culture and the pride thereof. It just takes individuals to decide to be proud of their culture and who they are and this will reflect in the content they share and promote on their social media thus fighting the erosion of culture.

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