Yesterday, a particularly distraught Delly Singah did a Live broadcast. From what I gathered, one of her followers had committed suicide. According to Delly, it was the fourth of her followers to die in such circumstances in barely a month.
I am not much of a reader of what goes on on Delly’s platform, but many of my friends follow her, and so her content always spills onto my Facebook homepage.
Why am I bringing this up? Well, for the most part, whenever someone independently profiles Delly, or another platform repurposes her content, they describe Delly as a “Relationship Expert.” I have seen that too often.
I have done some research and nowhere do I see Delly presenting herself as a clinical psychologist specialising in relationship and/or marriage counseling. At best, to be called a ‘Relationship Expert’ you have to have a minimum of clinical psychology training, and you have to have years of practice, and with a high success rate. That’s what expertise entails.
Now, is it Delly’s fault? Well, we live in a society where people are comfortable to give other people and themselves titles for which they have no merit. Today we have more social media experts than we have social media users. Everyone is a CEO; even the makeup artist with one assistant.
Delly created a platform that, I daresay, has helped many people. I have come across many “please hide my ID letters” as Tino loves to call them, and gone on to read the comments. While some people are there to catch the proverbial cruise, many usually give good counsel. And I daresay, again, that many people who have asked their stories to be published have gotten help.
But then there is the other part.
We live in a society where people do not have the culture of going to the hospital; either for lack of money or out of sheer dismissal for the level of severity of their condition, or just plain fear. When it concerns mental health, we do not know about getting professional help. We don’t even have that many peofessionals as you would see in more developed countries.
We live in a country where couples’ first knee jerk reaction to solving marital problems is to go see Daddy Pastor and Mummy G.O. Of course they give advice based on what is written in the holy book, and this does not always help the couple’s peculiar situation and so the problem gets entrenched and one party usually goes on suffering.
It is no doubt this same knee jerk reaction that pushes young people to write to Delly about their problems. Not everyone can express themselves well in writing and so, the weight of their problems can sometimes be never fully expressed. And the readers can’t see that. And so they sometimes catch the proverbial cruise and the person’s problems worsens.
But they come to Delly again and again because in our excitement, we have erected her to a status that she is not. It takes a professional to handle some of the questions that come to her inbox
Yesterday, she herself stressed about the importance of people seeking professional help. I want to believe she is overwhelmed and cannot even attend to the flood of request she gets in her inbox. I know how this can take a toll on her because we get requests too all the time and between our jobs and our life problems, it is hard to deal with it all.
She has over 20 times more followers than us, and I believe it must be particularly hard for her.
Having a popular platform on social media comes with a tremendous responsibility. Many “bloggers” are happy to bask in the likes and shares and the savagery, and often forget to understand that there are real life repercussions.
No doubt presenting Delly as an expert has led many to believe she can handle their very serious problems because they have been told she is an expert after all. Today there is clear evidence she cannot. She says so herself.
And for those of us who run these platforms and have our names written in bright lights in published profiles and whatnot, it is important to call out and inform people of the level of our competence.
Because you write about politics from time to time on your Facebook page, and someone calls you attend a Live discussion, you may presented on the flier as a Political Analyst.
You are not one. You are a Politics Enthusiast. Have them correct it.
Going this route will help curb the epidemic of conflated bios we see on social media today. It is very important.
- Wandji Wilfred