So, let’s catch up on my Saturday, and some thoughts accruing from that.
So I woke up to photos published by Dele Momodu in his new The Boss Newspapers about Diezani Allison-Madueke and how cancer has ravaged her body. It reminded me of my first degree, and how a particular lecturer would always say, “the medium is the message”. So, for instance, former president Goodluck Jonathan (and now President Muhammadu Buhari) have a peculiar penchant for talking to foreign media over our local journos. Why? The medium.
I feel like if that interview had been published by anyone else (insert the name of a print publication you trust/favor/think are credible), the backlash and accusation of image laundering would have been greatly reduced.
That said, I don’t like to have discussions about cancer when I can help it because it’s very personal to me, and regardless of who it is, somehow I’m always drawn back to 2013 and my aunt, etc. And I talked about that a bit on Saturday because I think that we’re slowly losing our humanity – this rejoicing we do when harm befalls someone. I talked along these lines when the death of Diepriye Alamieyeseigha was announced, I might publish thoughts on that too.
Another thing that amuses me is the deluded way we now ‘hold court’ on Twitter. Has someone committed a crime? Report to the appropriate authorities. Sue them. Charge them to court. Research, find out how you as an ordinary citizen can strengthen the case against them either by gathering signatures for a petition or writing to your local or national representative. But coming on Twitter to pronounce them guilty? Lol. So unfortunate. Even worse, you hear people say things like “they have to come on Twitter to defend themselves”. To whom/before who? Or else? Who are you again? This thing people smoke/drink that gives them wings should be studied.
It’s a dangerous trend we’re setting; ruining reputations on the basis of what one person (many times faceless) has said. What’s to say it’s not a smear campaign? What’s to say the facts haven’t been exaggerated? What’s to say… I could go on and on. And even if they were true, Twitter is not the place where a murderer or a rapist gets their comeuppance. If, for instance, someone’s been raped, the (logical) thing to do would be to report it. If the Police Station doesn’t treat you right (and that’s the more probable thing that will happen), come; let’s march to the Police Headquarters with you. Let’s write letters, raise a storm online that will translate to offline justice.
But don’t come on social media and ruin people’s reputation hiding behind a computer, especially with incomplete, potentially incorrect information. It’s just awful. Ugh! We say trials by the media are bad, well, mob action via social media is worse!
My mother says if you call someone a thief in the marketplace, if/when you find out the person is not a thief, you won’t be able to call everyone back to say you were wrong. Social media in many respects, is a marketplace, with no barrier. “The phone has become the predominant portal for Internet access,” says David Greenfield, a psychologist and founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction in West Hartford, Connecticut. “Which means you can do it all the time. There is literally no threshold to cross.” So a lot of us have become thumb warriors, wreaking havoc and causing grief either because we’re influential, or because we want to be influential. It almost becomes a competition to see who can be the nastiest, who can be the most brazen.
This is where personal social responsibility comes in. Would you normally say everything that comes to your mind? Hopefully the answer is no. Why do we feel the need to act differently then because we’re online? Why do we not spare a thought before we click ‘send’?
We must as a matter of urgency, do away with the school of thought that says that the things we say online are without consequences. On the other side of the great power/influence that social media affords us are the greater risks. Freedom of expression/speech? Definitely, but with freedom comes responsibility. We cannot be touting freedom as an excuse to incite others to violence, to mask hate (under intellectualism especially), or to provoke mass hysteria.
A lot of us end up with egg on our faces because we jump into conclusions we’ve formed based on one side of the story (we and whoever we influence as we go) when we can look to the appropriate quarters for complete information.
We can do better. Let’s do better.