Clout is the new opium, and we’re all addicted.

I write this article with a glass of water beside me, and a fairly old ‘sakomended’ spectacles sitting snuggly on the bridge of my nose and an irritable mood from seeing a lot of tweets and Instagram posts with no sense, no meaning, and a lot of engagements.

‘Power and influence over other people’ is how Cambridge dictionary defines clout. I’m, however, referring to a different kind of clout. I’m interested in dissecting the clout related to social media.

As usual, to get a proper bearing, we must answer a few questions.

Why is clout the new opium?

Opium is a narcotic drug that is obtained from the unripe seedpods of the opium poppy and its use — even short-term — can lead to addiction. Let me share an insightful excerpt about why opium is addictive, and please, stay with me.

‘Addiction is a condition in which something that started as pleasurable now feels like something you can’t live without. Doctors define drug addiction as an irresistible craving for a drug, out-of-control and compulsive use of the drug, and continued use of the drug despite repeated, harmful consequences. Opioids are highly addictive, in large part because they activate powerful reward centers in your brain’

‘Opioids trigger the release of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. Endorphins muffle your perception of pain and boost feelings of pleasure, creating a temporary but powerful sense of well-being. When an opioid dose wears off, you may find yourself wanting those good feelings back, as soon as possible. This is the first milestone on the path toward potential addiction’

If you read all of that, you must be quite intrigued. Now, I would post the same excerpt again, but this time, with a slight change in the substance causing the addiction. Kindly re-read.

‘Addiction is a condition in which something that started as pleasurable now feels like something you can’t live without. It can be defined as an irresistible craving for followers and likes, out-of-control and compulsive use of social media, and continued search for likes and engagements despite repeated, harmful consequences. Social media and clout are highly addictive, in large part because they activate powerful reward centers in your brain’

Clout and engagements trigger the release of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. Endorphins muffle your perception of pain and boost feelings of pleasure, creating a temporary but powerful sense of well-being. When a post becomes less popular, you may find yourself wanting those good feelings back, as soon as possible. This is the first milestone on the path toward potential addiction’

It is addictive, it is dangerous, and it is uncontrollable. On Instagram, the best of clout can be seen. People present the best versions of themselves, dress well, display their wins and successes, and reveal intimate information to get the attention of others, to get the likes and the repost, and to reach a lot of people. Likewise, some have seen that the more scanty the clothing, the more likes they get, as such a short visit to their Instagram pages would see an increasing trend towards more sultry and scantily-clad posts. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad, who really knows at this point?.

Clout brings out the worst in humans, just like opium, and there is no better application that demonstrates this than the famous ‘Twitter’. Because of the perceived clout, people assume a false persona, to gain followers and speak for millions. Some decorate themselves visionary leaders of these shallow-minded groups that thrive on segregation and faux freedom fighting. It’s irritating, to say the least. The hypocrisy smells worse than a compost site that has not been treated for eons.

Clout causes false accusations of criminal activities. Over the years, there has been an alarming increase in false rape accusations presumably because of the clout it generates. In the domain of clout, no one cares about the two sides of the story, we only care about the more sentimental side, the one powerful enough to propose outrage porn.

I could go on and on.

Why do people go so far for clout? Why do they want more likes, followers, and engagements? You see, even if many do not know it yet, social capital is power. The ability to hold sway over the opinions of a certain number of people is a truly remarkable feat. Adolph Hitler held sway over the whole of Germany and was able to allow unimaginable atrocities to fester in the country, as well as force them into a devastating war. Like Hitler, many find that intoxicating. To have followers that would bask at their every opinion, to fight others for them and insult them, to agree with their every opinion, and come out in the forefront to lay down their social media personas for them.

Clout gives money. Brands reward clout with cash and endorsements, so it's no surprise that you would often see ‘clout chasers’ display their social media numbers and attach words like ‘ brands what are you waiting for’. Clout is a source of livelihood for many people, as such, it's no surprise the lengths people would go to achieve it. Clout gives fame also. The more followers you have, the more famous you get, and the more you feel powerful and important. I bet it sometimes makes you feel like you’re special and different from others, unique and respected. It’s sickening.

Friends and siblings deny and insult each other for this phenomenon, and lovers air their dirty laundry out to gain favor from people they haven't even met. The people at the wrong end are often chased towards suicide, while the people at the right end of it near financial freedom.

Clout is the new opium and one that we cannot regulate. There is no DEA to control this and its effects will ripple throughout the centuries to come. Clout is the new opium, and we’re all addicted.

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