Social media continues to be a platform where one’s opinion can be expressed. People want their voice to be heard and sometimes in their zeal, they suppress another person’s voice. Therefore, it is important to find a balance between being open-minded to another’s voice while maintaining their conviction.

Meet Kalan Grey
Kalan Grey attended the Debe High School in Trinidad and Tobago. He loves to play sports mainly; football and cricket, listening to music, playing video games, cooking, going on hikes, and hanging out with his friends. Kalan works as a Securities Clerk at Republic Bank. In a world where social media has become a daily activity in which almost everyone participates, Kalan understands the benefits and the drawbacks of social media. In this interview, he will share his thoughts on the ways in which persons use social media and the effects it may have on other people.

Do you identify with the topic?
Yes, I do identify with the topic.

Do you comment on social media posts?
Yes, I have commented on social media posts.

Have you ever made a comment and later, after getting more facts about the situation, had a change of heart?
I try not to comment on topics I don’t have some knowledge on, so I don’t make myself look stupid.

Have you ever made a comment and were verbally attacked for it?
No, I have not. I tend to only comment when I’m sure I have a good point.

When you see something on social media that you are not in agreement with, what do you do?
It really depends on the topic, usually I start typing in defense of my opinion, but come to my senses and move along, because people on social media aren’t willing to change their opinion when provided with another perspective. They argue to be right, and it is just a back-and-forth argument. It’s a waste of time and energy in my honest opinion. However sometimes I do follow through if it’s someone I know who can have a meaningful discussion that would not escalate to disrespect.

Were you ever involved in a back-and-forth argument like that?
I was having a conversation with a girl I met on a site, and the topic of music came up. She’s an extreme feminist and while I agree that women need to be empowered, some feminists come across as if they want superiority to men rather than equality. It’s like they want a matriarchy to replace the “patriarchy”. She told me that she only listens to female rappers because males tend to only rap about sex, guns and drugs. Her preferred choice of female rappers is Nicki Minaj, Megan Thee Stallion and a couple others. Women who sell sex through their music. Now the only female rapper I listen to is Young M.A.

Did you find a common ground, or did you both agree to disagree?
We did not. The conversation just spiraled into her insulting me and not trying to understand my perspective at all LOL. After I told her about my preference for rappers; J. Cole, Santan Dave, Joyner Lucas and Eminem to name a few, she had already fabricated her opinion of me. Quite prejudiced.

Wow. So, it was an unproductive discussion. This goes back to what you were saying about some people not wanting to hear what others have to say.
Not productive at all. The conversation spiraled into LGBT rights, which she is a strong activist for. I don’t agree, but I’m not in a place to tell anyone how to live. If that makes you happy then be happy within your space and I’ll be happy within mine, and when we do venture into each other’s spaces, hopefully, respect and tolerance can prevail.

This is my growth from being a ‘that’s wrong and I couldn’t ever respect them, they can’t make that legal’. After me getting to understand some things after research, I still don’t agree but I do now understand. Back then I was speaking from a place of ignorance and an unwillingness to understand. So, we went back and forth about different individual topics related to LGBT rights with us finding no common ground and her speaking over me and insulting me.

The conversation then moved toward the word, Nigga, and who is allowed to use it. She’s a mixed girl and I’m mostly of African descent. The only feature she has that might tell she’s a mixed girl is her curly hair or else you would assume she is more heavily of East Indian descent. I told her the word by itself has no real power over me. It’s more of the intent and I’m fine with non-black people calling me nigga depending on the context and intent. Don’t call me nigga to refer to my race. However, if you are referring to me as a male and it’s not disrespectful, then fine. You know how we would say, ‘Niggas ain’t shit’. That term is fine with me if a non-black person is using it because the intent wasn’t meant to be disrespectful.

Now a predominantly Indian girl is upset with me for my stance, saying that I cannot allow anyone to call me nigga regardless of context or intent. She’s now trying to control what I find is acceptable. That’s just my opinion. She basically told me her other friends would think I was crazy for that and basically called me a b****.
However, she was very clear that if I called her a b****, she would ‘cuff me in my face cause no man can’t call her b****’. At that point, it just got into more insults, and I hung up the phone. That was the first and last conversation we had. I literally just wanted to hear her out and get her views for understanding on my part. But her approach was terrible.

I left that conversation angry. That’s why tolerance and respect is honestly what we need as a society to live in peace with each other. Too often people think their beliefs are right and everything is black and white. But there’s a whole lot of shades in between and anyone’s opinion can fall anywhere within that spectrum. But most of us are too proud and full of ourselves to change our opinion when provided with new information and that’s something I’m working on.

You said if it’s a person you know who can have a meaningful discussion that would not escalate to disrespect, you would reach out to them and have that conversation. Tell me about a time when you did that.
I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining, but as a man, it can be difficult to scroll through social media sometimes, because men are bashed for everything. I’m under no illusions that women don’t experience the same. I used to be triggered all the time until I saw one person that said yes, they are saying ‘men’ but when they say ‘men’, they are only referring to men who do whatever they are speaking about. I’ve kept that in the back of my mind because my reaction used to be, ‘not all men’. Now, it’s well, they aren’t talking about me, so I’m not triggered anymore.

One time I saw a post, I couldn’t remember what it was about, but I went to my friend who I’d just randomly approach to discuss things and the same in reverse. I think it’s healthy to have someone who you can speak to with regard to different topics. Even if we do disagree, we respect each other’s opinions, and it never affects our friendship.

Tell me about one positive and one negative experience you have during your interaction on social media.

I am a very curious individual and I have been able to learn a lot from YouTube which is my second most used app next to WhatsApp.

One negative is that I can get caught in a loop of procrastination due to social media. Switching from app to app and lying to myself saying I’ll go take care of my responsibilities in the next half hour or next hour which turns into the next 5 hours. I am working on that.

What impact did the experience have on you and what lesson did you learn from it?
YouTube has opened my mind to a lot, and I have learnt to use social media not just for entertainment but also for education. I think a balance between the two is essential to my development as an individual. The video format there is perfect for me as someone who believes reading is torture and cannot understand how people read for pleasure.

What I’ve learnt from my negative is that I need to learn better time management which would also benefit me in my professional life, and I am improving especially with the help of YouTube.

What is your opinion on the power of social media and how people allow it to influence them?
Social media is easily the most powerful aspect of our lives right now. I’m sure everyone can relate to how lost you feel if you forget your phone at home or your battery dying while you’re out or worst yet, and I need to put this in bold, FLOW being down. It is an overwhelming feeling of being disconnected from life when we don’t have access to social media.

I’m sure it’s something we all have felt at some point or another to varying degrees. Social media’s hold on us at this point is irreversible, it’s a drug. Posting a picture and getting that rush of dopamine when your likes are increasing as the seconds tick away is so exhilarating, that I have friends who only posts their pictures at selected times during the day in a bid to maximize their potential like count.

Social media’s influence on people is somewhat a negative. Too often people are willing to do anything for validation on social media, too often we see people bully other people on social media for likes and for laughs. This has become a norm. Very rarely users ever post their downfall and I think that gives a false sense of perfection in their lives, especially on the part of social media influencers and celebrities which creates a level of insecurity within the average user who lacks the understanding that this is just all for show.

Kalan in his element.

What advice would you give to young people who wish to become active social media users?
My advice to young people would be that social media can be an amazing experience. There’s a lot to learn and a lot to enjoy through it and if you are talented, you certainly can gain opportunities. However, be wary of the dangers. Do not become so engulfed in pursuit of popularity that you are willing to compromise your morals and values as an individual. Be careful of the information that you reveal on social media because the stuff you post, never goes away. Pay attention to the persons you interact with, not everyone can be trusted. But all in all, have fun RESPONSIBLY!!!

What are your future goals?
My future goals are really to be financially comfortable, and to live happily. It does not matter what I do but how I do it.