SIBF panel delves into influencer culture and complex impact of social media on contemporary society

Nov 06, 2023
SIBF panel delves into influencer culture and complex impact of social media on contemporary society
SHARJAH — An Italian researcher specializing in cognitive anthropology, cultural evolution, and computational social science, along with an Emirati professor, engaged in a compelling panel discussion at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2023), dissecting the impacts of social media and its intricate relationship with contemporary society.

Moderated by writer Tamreez Inam, the discussion featured Alberto Acerbi and Fatima Salim Al Naqbi exploring the rise of influencer culture and debating the extent to which influencers leave a lasting impact on the current generation.

Acerbi, who teaches at the University of Trent’s department of sociology and social research, expressed skepticism about the power of influencers to truly influence people. He emphasized the importance of considering human psychology and highlighted the tendency for individuals to be stubborn and resistant to influence, even from highly followed celebrities like Cristiano Ronaldo.

The panelists also delved into how social media serves as a catalyst for connection, information sharing, and activism. They touched on potential downsides such as misinformation, online toxicity, and the erosion of privacy.

Fatema Salim Al Naqbi noted that the effects of social media today are all-encompassing, involving individuals of all ages. She discussed the evolution of communication models, referencing the old hypodermic needle model and its modern revival due to big data analytics-based mass customization. Al Naqbi highlighted the shift from traditional television-driven information dissemination to the empowerment of individuals through the selection of content on various social media channels.

The Emirati academic praised the UAE's digitalization initiatives in the public sector and educational institutions, acknowledging the guidelines in place to regulate the industry.

The thought-provoking discussion, marked by academic research-driven insights and probing questions, concluded with a comprehensive examination of the role modern digital forces play in shaping our lives.