In this installment of Our Stories *Lila Charles is a formidable 20 years old who knows how to navigate the pitfalls of the social media world without them affecting her belief system. For many people, Jamaica is pictured as an island paradise – white sandy beaches, a beautiful and vivacious culture, rich and wholesome food, and attractive people. And while that image is not far from the truth, if the lens is focused on the inspirational stories of ordinary Jamaicans, you’d find a sharper, richer and truer image of the Jamaican experience…this is Our Stories!

Lila is a Gen Z who grew up in Stony Hill, St. Andrew where she fondly remembers going to the river from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm in the evening with her closely-knit family. Lila grew up sheltered and was shy until she attended St. Andrew High School for Girls where she made a conscious decision to explore different areas by joining five clubs to find her career path and to come out of her shell. She was also a member of her high school’s field hockey team in the position of a defender.

Fast forward, Lila is now attending the University of Technology, Jamaica, pursuing a degree in Actuarial Science and to no surprise, she is now the President of the University of Technology Actuarial Science Club, which she said is one of her proudest moments and her family is also gleeful with excitement over her achievement.

What do you think about social media?

 Social Media is like water. It takes the shape of any container it is placed in. Social Media can be a tool of positivity, inspiration, entertainment and joy if it is used by wholesome persons. Or it can be very negative depending on the type of persons and the content.

 Why do you use social media?

 I use social media for entertainment, information, leisure, and learning.

  Which social media platforms do use and why?

I use Instagram to post pictures and stories. I also like, comment and share other persons’ pictures. Additionally, I use Instagram to watch stories.  I also like the compliments and likes whenever I post a picture, it makes me feel good about myself.                                                                       

I use Twitter to stay updated on what’s happening in the country and the world.

I retweet the things that I find relatable or funny.  I use Whatsapp to stay in touch with my peers.

 What if you got negative comments on your picture and did not receive any likes?

I think it would affect me because I have only gotten positive feedback so far, but it would not affect my belief system because I am still human and have feelings.

Lila looking sharp and focused. Photos contributed by Pexels.com

 Why do you think your belief system is not affected by social media?

 I am not someone who can be influenced easily nor will I change myself or my opinions to fit in with the rest of society.

 In a general sense, how is the belief system held by your age group affected by social media?

 The voices and images on social media presented by celebrities and influencers have impacted my generation as they are caught up in the hype of social media and (they are) spending money to buy clothes and posting images to become popular on social media. Also, persons that have huge following on Twitter are posting about achieving car and house by age 30 and my generation is feeling pressured in achieving all this image and success and then start to compare themselves with what is being presented on social media which results in them feeling bad about themselves. Some persons post fake images of a lifestyle on social media is not a true reflection of their lives and my age group is being fooled by this as well. I also observed on Twitter persons becoming cyberbullies to fit in with a certain group so they can be seen and to gain popularity which is very important to them.

 You said you think your age group beliefs are affected by social media. How does that make you feel?

 It is very sad and disappointing to know that some if not most of the generation do not have a mind for themselves.

 You shared that you have seen persons been bullied on Twitter, could you please share in what way they were bullied?

 Persons are oftentimes judged because of their opinions or if their way of life is different from most of the Twitter community. I saw a girl being bullied because she posted a picture of herself which showed a roof that was covered with tarpaulin.

 How did you feel about the person being bullied at the time?

I didn’t feel like it was right or necessary to shame her because she doesn’t have a cemented roof over her head. I also felt sorry for her.

Lila ready to take on the world. Photo contributed by Pexels.com

 Do you think you are responsible for how you use social media?

Yes

In what ways are you responsible on social media?

 I don’t post harmful content, I don’t bully persons and I also use it to retweet or share missing persons in order to be of some help.

How do you believe your generation can learn to maintain a positive belief system?

 I think better parenting is the solution to the problem, my mother was an influence in guiding me in the right way.

 Thank you Lila for taking the time to share your views and insights on this topic.

 What to say, I am so amazed and awestruck by this young Gen Z Lila Charles. From a young age, you could see that she was focused.  She is young and has a solid belief system that cannot be swayed by social media or society. I am very impressed to see someone her age with such confidence in herself and also using social media responsibly. I think her mother is also to be credited for raising such an impressive young woman who is going places.

Lila feeling great and happy about becoming the President of the University of Technology Actuarial Science Club. Photos contributed by Pexels.com

*Name change upon request

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