Years ago in secondary school, we had a middle aged woman who used to come sell banana to us in the intervening hour between closure of school hours and the preparatory hours where we were expected to read and attend to assignments for the day.
While trudging her slightly heavy frame around, she would sound out a musical tune to attract both our attention and interest. Her famous line was something that came close “anointed banana”, a reference to what we needed to become successful in our exams. Clearly, there was no correlation between eating those bananas and passing examinations! If you did not read, you would fail with all pleasure! But her rendition got her good sales each time.
Days ago, Nigerian handsome and famous actor, Mofe Duncan belied that thespian intelligence the public has always attributed to actors when he disclosed that he bought four pieces of plantain for N6,000! Read that again, N6,000. Not N60, not N600, but N6,000. He just bought each piece for N1,500.
To those who love to read bad news everyday, it was an indication of how bad Nigeria had descended and another tool in their never ending arsenal to troll their country and their leaders. I assume the expectation of many is that leaders should also be farming and feeding each and everyone of us.
However, the horde of those who see beyond the façade of social media could see the game and the regular cruise that some people enjoy lying or spreading lies to deceive unwary people.
Mofe Duncan has become another in the long list of those who seek cruise, or at best want to be politically correct. They seek fame upon fame from how well they can disparage their country so that a whole army of equally disgruntled characters can give them thumbs up.
It was the same motivation that could have drawn a comedian, Bovi Ugboma to design a dress in a ketchup-soaked Nigerian flag to compere a public event, completely oblivious of what the Nigerian statute books said about respect and treatment of the Nigerian flag.
It was the same kind of warped thinking that made Udeh Chiamaka Victoria, a Nigerian in Russia, to hold a Nigerian flag already debased with the red colour at a Miss Africa pageant in Russia. It must have been a cruise programme, deliberately planned to aid her win the title. Naturally, she lost because the judges must have been humans!
On social media, the same hunger for cruise and fame has always been playing out with many of our countrymen, especially youngsters, itching for likes, retweets, shares and the attendant one minute “fame” that goes with it.
The question is: To what end? I am sure many of these characters do not have anything to do in order to remedy the situation other than spreading lies, deliberate misinformation and abuse of whoever tries to hold a contrary opinion.
It is this idea that sustains the so called sorosoke generation. It is worrisome how a generation believes it can get what it wants by lying its way through on social media and by abusing whoever tries to correct them. I really want to know where that is possible.
For the future, we may have to agree that the question about social media is not if it will be regulated. It when it will be. Humanity is fast zooming into a state of anomie with the daily display on social media. For Eric Schmidt, Google CEO until 2019, the “excesses” of social media are likely to result in greater regulation of internet platforms in the coming years. He is of the view that more regulation may be in order for social networks in general.
According to him, “the context of social networks serving as amplifiers for idiots and crazy people is not what we intended,” and warns that unless the industry gets its act together in a really clever way, “there will be regulation.”
There is hardly any channel that is spared in the race for mendacity. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have become the go-to channels to spread lies, misinformation and hate. There is hardly any topic that is spared from that too.
I have a file loaded with pictures imported from several countries from across the world to depict Nigeria as perhaps uninhabitable for humans. If it were so, why not just get the pictures from the actual situation and expose them? What is the motivation for importing a picture from Papua New Guinea (mind you, it is not anywhere near Africa, despite the “Guinea”) and ascribing it to the Nigerian Army “killing our people”? Do we have our people in Papua New Guinea and do Nigerian soldiers now operate in that country too?!
How do you teach a generation that believes that once you protest for 30 days, the United Nations will take over Nigeria’s administration that the external world does not take interest in your country more than mere rhetorics, unless their personal interest is threatened? How do you teach a generation that believes Corona virus is a hoax to be careful and stay safe despite the education?
It is as scary as the story of a Mofe Duncan buying four pieces of plantain for N6,000 in Nigeria and being taken seriously by educated people.
It is an allegory of social media stupidity. Someone needs to stop it sooner than later to ensure the madness doesn’t become a cancer that would eat up the whole country.
Nur writes from Abuja