Social media, at its bestest, is bloody brilliant. It enables people develop links and connect to one another like strands of Dangote Spaghetti. Through these portals of virtual integration, we can reach out and touch, somebody’s hands and hopefully make Nigeria a better place. There is nothing like receiving 100 birthday congratulations from Facebook friends, some of whom you have not seen in ages, and who only remembered your special day due to the reminder from Facebook. It is the thought that counts. Just like the promises of 16 million jobs by our incumbent president.
There are arguments that the likes of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook mask many flaws and project a facade. Online, everybody is minted, popular, well dressed, attractive or upwardly mobile as their status updates, photographs, tweets and hashtags would have you believe. Life as portrayed on these platforms can be a bit like The Stepford Wives. Personally I think it is more like Tales By Moonlight – you see the animals in human beings and it is a bit like a pantomime. I think some people expect too much from social media. Everything you see on Facebook, should be taken at face value. It is not a reliable medium to set up blind dates, look for life partners or measure how badly your life is doing in comparison to people you are following.
As a tool for social engineering, social media has no equal. There is no better feeling than being able to track and reconnect with that long lost acquaintance on Facebook after many years in a way that no other forum can afford. More importantly, social media can act as a vanguard against dictatorship, misrule (like how Nigerians got behind the Fuel Subsidy riots 3 years ago), or for shedding light on injustices or issues that in years past would have been swept under a raffia mat (the Chibok girls).
Then there is also the added advantage of making disillusioned persons more politically aware (see how most people are able to follow the build-up to the elections)
Social media and reality in comparison are like Lagos vs. most of Nigeria. One is shiny, cosmopolitan, verbose, flash and air-brushed while the other is threadbare, realistic, plain Jane and has cellulite/acne.
Now I will admit I am old-school. As a rule, I try to keep my posts light and intuitive, and avoid extreme political, religious and ethno-racial postulations. I definitely abhor scandal, so I find some happenings on social media hilarious.
Our online activity creates a virtual footprint/record which may last for centuries. Think about it – eons from now, when Nigeria as a civilization has ended, and alien life-forms or new civilizations from other climes land in what used to be known as Nigeria, and do archeology digs to try to piece together how we lived. If a digger finds an iPad and peruses it, do we want them to see viral pictures of you which broke the internet? Too far away? What about your future partner? Or voters if you ever decided to contest in the future? I am just sipping my Lipton tea like Kermit the opolo.
Other highlights of a few things I find amusing are:
• Persons who post their travel or vacation itinerary on Facebook or Instagram amuse me to no end. It is like inviting ants (and thieves) to a picnic. Everyone and their Nkita is on Facebook nowadays – burglars and enemies of progress too. Yep, photos of you chilling in first class with your designer bag “on fleek” and the on-flight entertainment apparatus placed strategically in the shot can come back to bite you like an anopheles mosquito. Some people take it further by discussing their return dates. So thieves and men of the night know when your house is empty. Or full of janded goodies. #WorldTraveller #JetLife
• Followers on Instagram who pester celebrities to “kindly follow back” and take it personal when celebs do not. Now, I can understand that some fans, to be fair to them, view social media as an avenue to feel closer to stars they adore. But think about the celeb’s point of view for a bit. Here he/she is, famous and followed by over 200,000 people including friends, well-wishers, fans, olofofos, spam-bots, agents of division, runs girls, stalkers, groupies etc. He cannot follow everyone who asks him. Imagine what his feed would look like – it would be as long as the Fuel Subsidy Report. Besides a celeb’s lifestyle is usually interesting, eventful and follow-worthy. Why on earth would that celeb want to leaf through zillions of posts on his timeline only to see a foodie post a fan had put up of seafood okra made with Geisha.
• Folks who feud or slag each other off online. While we have waited for the anticipated Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight, we have enjoyed cyber boxing between two Nigerian music artistes whose names rhyme with Fizz Did and Stale. Sadder than seeing these two artistes who may be role models for young Nigerians, was the pig Americana English each used to garnish insults. Fizz Did has priors – last year he engaged in virtual fisticuffs on Twitter with another Nigerian artiste whose name rhymes with Taribo. Then there was the WWE tag team wrestling match on Instagram/Twitter between Amber Rose and the Kardashian family.
Sometimes a few of these Nigerian musical acts wonder why their CD does not sell, or why trolls winch them at every turn. Social media over-exposure removes the mystique stars used to have. They lose a bit of their star power when they misbehave or descend into the arena of conflict. When I was growing up, celebs were like idols. You hardly saw them except if you were in that industry or ran in their circles. While not as wealthy as the ones today, they had a certain aura. Back then, my siblings saw Felix Liberty at the Apapa Amusement Park, and you should have seen how he was mobbed by the crowd. That was our Nigerian Michael Jackson. He bought popcorn and candy floss for all the kids present. Bless.
• People who air their dirty linen/ marital or relationship problems in cyberspace. I know a girl whose status updates reflect the ebbs and flows of her relationship with her troublesome boyfriend. When things were all hunky dory and sweet, you saw updates like “My boo of life. Thanks for the wonderful gifts today. I love you to the moon and back.” To which her followers will swoon with comments like “love nwantiti” and prod her to reveal what the gift was. Then when they fought, her relationship status changed to “its complicated” with an update “Why are all men dogs na?” Woof jare.
• Social media gives everyone a platform or a stage to display their talents or passions. No need to be discovered by a talent scout – now anyone with the right skills, auto-tune, ghostwriter, Sura-the-tailor or Photoshop can be a star, model, stylista or be famous. Wearing the number of likes/followers one has like a badge of honour can however be a fatal mistake. That 2,000 people like your post on Instagram does not mean spit in the outside world. Fair play to you, if you can translate those to sales, or galvanize a followership that can become a movement. Or if you are able to foster some kind of online popularity that transcends from cyber space into goodwill or legal tender. Or Bitcoins. Mind, you cannot buy nada with Bitcoins in Nigeria. Yet, I am sure when it does, the Nigerian factor would hinder its characteristics. Imagine offering to transfer Bitcoins to an akara seller. Or spraying Bitcoins at a wedding. Dear newlyweds, congrats on your nuptials. I have transferred 50 Bitcoins to you online. See the screenshot on my phone as proof. Haha.
• People who spam your mailbox, timeline or comments with unwanted information. That I graciously accepted your friend request, even though we had never exchanged anything other than polite pleasantries in real life, does not give you the right to inundate my inbox or profile wall with sales pitches, invitations to age-inappropriate raves where the average age of the girls make me like that ex-governor from Zamfara. Or to your fellowship’s revival where Pastor Nimrod has promised to bind demons and turn Sapele water into ogogoro. Or doomsday messages where fire and brimstone is promised me and my generation within 7 days if I refuse to forward to 1000 of my followers. And no, I am not interested in buying a Nyash-lifter or weight-loss tablets.
• The amount of lewd photos or soft porn on Insta read like a Nackson comic strip. Run girls even advertise their wares now. The funniest ones are when you see holier-than-thou people’s profile tagged in a link to a pornographic still on Facebook. You know one of those videos, where if you click on, the link registers on your page and sticks to you like an EFCC charge.
• I still do not get Twitter at all. I joined because my blog readers felt it would be an excellent way to showcase my services. However, when I tweet, I end up cocking it up because I tweet like I text. Besides the characters allowed never seem enough – I like to express myself jor. Maybe I should stick to letter writing. Or blogging.
What do you like or hate most about Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or the likes?
Said she doesn’t know what got inside this child’s mind; she planted/
a box of condoms on her dresser then she Instagrammed it/
Nas, Daughters (2012)
Photo Credit: Dreamtime | Phartisan