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Emeka Obia: The Danger with Hating on Social media



I had just received a broadcast message on BBM about the new music release on social media by one of my favourite Nigerian artistes. I usually let them pile up till the weekend when I take my time to select the ones I find most fascinating to download. I got on to a music site with the help of my smart phone, clicked on the song. I scrolled all the way down to read the reviews first, in order to manage my expectations. My experience was shocking. Half of the comments that trickled down were remarks coated and soaked in hatred. People take time/data out to hate, criticize, and condemn other people’s hard work and art’.

This happens all the time. Sometimes I wonder the kind of satisfaction people get from hating other people on the internet. Not sure about other countries, but I think Nigerians lead the pack in the race of dedicated online hate in Africa.

Social media platforms are perhaps the greatest innovations of our generations. We now live in a digital world where people communicate all over the world almost at the speed of light; social media has given people a platform to express themselves in many ways possible.

Even though social media penetration in Africa lags behind the rest of the world and is just about 7 percent ahead of central Asia, (primarily as a result of lack of affordable, accessible internet on the continent) Nigeria still leads the way with the highest number of internet users; Facebook users, and active mobile subscriptions despite South Africa having higher internet, Facebook and mobile penetration.

In addition, statistics by the Alder report for social media in Nigeria showed that the internet contributed about 2 billion dollars to the Nigerian economy. That isn’t so hard to believe about a country of over 177 million people and 67 million internet users as of December 2013 &over 6 million Facebook users. I mean, the possibilities of what we can possible do with the internet are endless. There’s so much to learn and there’s arguably nothing you can’t find on the internet. Well, maybe except food.

Very recently a top Nigerian singer, Banky W released a music video of a Song titled JaiyeOrimi. In that song, he basically talks about the hate towards him, his big head, being single, yadayadayada. Unsurprisingly, 90% or more of these criticisms and hate were all shot through the social media. This goes to show how far these hates can go. In December 2012, Jessica Laney, an American hung herself in her home after suffering a constant abuse from online bullies.

You’d agree with me that if these hate messages all over the social media were gun shots, most influential people would have been long buried by now.

Everyday on social media pages are stacks of angry people raging against politicians, influencers, musicians, celebrities on the internet. Most times appraisals of popular musicians include words like ‘talentless fools’, clueless idiot’, useless song’. Change the subject to Politicians and it becomes even more intense. At a point President Goodluck Jonathan was said to be the most hated president on social media.

I often wonder why humans are so bitter towards other humans who are on a mission make a real meaning out of life just like everyone’s out there.

Could it be that these ‘hate champions’ feel fulfilled when they let out the hate?
Does flinging stones at other people cause a major change?
Does expressing bitterness aggressively towards others bring some sort of satisfaction?
Does seeing other people struggle or suffer as a result of hate on social media prove any real point?

As I brood over through these questions and more, the harder it gets to justify the act of social and online media hatred.

This hatred is underserved. Some of these influential people are actively involved in charity campaigns and even some of the politicians have also performed fairly well. In other words they have made the world a better place, something that cannot be said for your standard internet keyboard hate warrior. Does this mean you have to like their music or government? Does it mean dedicating 5,000 words to trashing them on a blog is misplaced rage? You do the math.

The problem with hatred is not that it is not exactly immoral, but it is pointless. Even Martin Luther King once said that he has decided to stick to love, because hate is too great a burden to bear. The irony here is that if you truly want to forget something or someone, you just cannot hate it or hate them, because everything and everyone you hate is engraved on your heart. In other words, to let go of something, you cannot hate it.

Social media is way far from a hate platform, it sparks revelation that we have a voice; and through the democratization of content and ideas we can once again unite around common passions, inspire movements, and ignite real change. Not real hate.

The world will be a better place if we learn to be more polite, kind, more tolerant of others, and also cultivate and sustain positive values.

Maybe there is some truth in the saying that ‘there will be haters. And the more you grow the more the hate, the more they hate the more you grow’.

Over to you: Why do people hate on social media? Share your thoughts!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | David Gilder

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