Trends have been notably successive over the past short period of time, with a diversity of subjects that some of which became quickly obsolete. It is also notable that the common nature of those trends was that they did not last for longer than a week, even though they had been widely shared and interacted with by social media users.
Social media made it available for the public to freely speak their minds, agree with or reject a particular issue. For example, the recent trend “Woman is not committed, man is not obliged” had a kind of different nature for being of relevance to a number of effective parties such as “Feminists” or women rights defenders, religious institutions, as well as society culture and traditions, hence, it dominated in Egypt as well as the Arab world among both the public and the media, it rather agitated debates among intellectuals, and had even been discussed on some western media platforms.
The trend “Woman is not committed…” is an example that sheds light on the influence of trends on the collective awareness. The controversy over that trend as well as other similar trends raises questions about their broad and extended influence.
Trends Battle, Exhausting Awareness:
Multiple reasons and motives stand behind the rapid spread of trends on social media, especially those which tackle inherited religious or social traditions. Among those reasons is the incredible amount of information and renewable highly diverse issues being debated, which is difficult for human mind to analyze in a short course of time, or even examine their credibility and the reasons behind releasing this volume of information at that specific timing, which makes the majority of people limit their awareness to receive information without analyzing and hence coming out with conclusions.
Thus, the majority lost their ability to polarize their own opinions; they rather superficially gathered information based on others’ opinions, adopted and shared them as if they were their own, thus, the space for spreading information becomes vaster creating a trend. This results in a public falsified awareness or collective awareness that is polarized as a personal opinion.
The more the debated issues interfere with social heritage and religious constants, the faster they spread, hence, they became a mean for achieving fame and publicity in a short time even if they are not of priority for the public. This may be referred to the fact that this society is strongly bonded to its heritage since the ancient times, and resisting modernization.
The greatly increased usage of internet in Egypt helped the rapid spread of trends. Internet users rate in Egypt is 71.9 percent of the total population, as recorded at the beginning of 2022 according to “We are social 2022” corp. for internet studies, that’s 4.1 million increase compared to 2021, representing a ratio of 9.1 percent, the majority of which are aged 18 to 34 years.
Social media users at the beginning of 2022 reached 48.9 percent of the total population, with an increase of 5.2 million than 2021, that’s 5.0 percent jump. Which indicates that almost half of the Egyptians interact through social media platforms, hence, become subject to trends’ influence, which sheds light on trends’ impacts on individuals as well as the society.
According to the report, Facebook users reached 44.7 million, Youtube 46.3 million, Instagram 16 million, TikTok 20.28 million, and Snapchat 13.6 million.
Mental and Social Impacts of Trends:
- Controlling Collective Awareness: Lots of social media users get affected by trends and hash tags, as a result, they become victims of trends’ manipulating their mental health, especially when official intervention occurs, as happened with the “Fairmont” case. It all started with a hash tag with which lots of social media users have sympathized, followed by intervention by security and legislative authorities which gave it credibility and strength, simultaneously with launching several hash tags advising girls not to go out alone as Egypt streets are not safe which negatively affected girls’ mental health and had a harmful effect on social peace.
- Trends are one of the fifth generation wars tools as some use them to spread their hostile orientations, causing public sentiment chaos, discontentment and anger towards everything, straining social fabric, weakens people’s backing to their country.
- Spread of violence and increase of divorce rates: Many social researches specialized in “Gender Studies” have concluded that the increased rate of discussion in the media about women’s rights, especially rights that are not socially stipulated, results in increased hostility against women under the pretext of restoring the balance of powers between men and women.
- Negative impact: loosening social constants: Trends that encourage violating social standards may become facts over time, such as those which call for freedom in boys and girls relationships calling it “Personal Freedom”, and others call for legitimizing homosexuality. This may lead to a perception among younger generations that those hated actions are becoming normal, taking into consideration the retreating moral role of the families, educational and religious institutions globally.
Despite the dangerous influence of trends on society, they may have useful impacts such as tracing criminals, serving justice as happened in digital blackmail cases, highlighting good elements in the society such as the honest young man who returned a big amount of money to its owner after finding it in the street, in addition to correcting some wrong understandings that have prevailed for long times such women’s right to work. However, some other trends contradict with human nature, religious beliefs, and some cause disturbing public peace and security, which puts the society in confrontation with a phenomenon that is dangerous especially for youth.