UAE: 36% of social media users escape pandemic reality by following influencers – News
More than 3 in 10 social media users in the United Arab Emirates have escaped the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic by following influencers, a new survey by a cybersecurity firm found.
According to the latest research from Kaspersky, one-sided relationships, also known as parasocial relationships, flourished around the world amid social distancing and national Covid-19 bans.
Kaspersky’s global study of more than 15,000 people in 25 countries found that just under half (36 percent) of social media users in the United Arab Emirates believe that the influencers they follow are giving them an “escape from reality” Offer.
The latest poll shows that parasocial relationships are no longer a novelty or a quirk.
More than one in five (22 percent) believe they are “friends” with the influencers they follow, and roughly the same proportion (26 percent) even go so far as to send an influencer a private message.
Despite the largely virtual nature of these relationships, nearly half (49 percent) of social media users have even met some of the influencers they follow in real life.
During successive global lockdowns, many people spent long periods of time at home and instead turned to virtual companions to replace our social lives. This type of one-way relationship has a strong appeal to many.
More than 7 in 10 (75 percent) say they learn from the influencers they follow in areas such as health, hobbies, style, and news. More than a quarter (32 percent) say they are “dependent” on influencer content, and 1 in 10 (18 percent) even say they feel absent when they are not dealing with influencers.
Many have sought direct contact with online influencers, most often by commenting on their posts (28 percent) or reacting to their posts or stories (33 percent).
However, social media was important to many people during the pandemic, with 7 in 10 (77 percent) in the UAE saying that social media provided them with an important connection during the pandemic. It was highest among younger people between the ages of 18 and 34 (79 percent) who rely on social media for their connectivity.
People in Vietnam (94 percent) and South Africa (79 percent) are most likely to say that social media is an important connection for them, although half of the people in the UAE (50 percent) say they have become less tolerant of people in social media during the pandemic.
“Although more than half (56 percent) of the people in the United Arab Emirates have been on social media for more than a decade, many of us are still trying to balance the positive and negative aspects of social media.” said David Emm, senior security researcher at Kaspersky.
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“Now we have entered a new era where virtual relationships are becoming the norm. Often times, these one-way relationships can lead to them being shared too much on social media as people try to develop these relationships. However, this can lead to a multitude of negative and unforeseen consequences – hacking and phishing attempts, doxing and bullying, online shaming – the list goes on. “
Emm added, “With the lockdowns we’ve all seen over the past year, it’s understandable that people have drawn to online and parasocial relationships to ward off loneliness and boredom, but it’s crucial that people engage are aware of the consequences of excessive online sharing and are able to take a more balanced approach. “
Kaspersky says it has also introduced its “ShareAware Hub”, where users can find practical tips to help them enjoy social media safely.