The advent of the social media in Nigeria has come with many positive developments such as connecting old friends and people generally, promoting business, sharing information with ease as well as serving as and  entertainment platforms, among others. There are several opportunities that the cyberspace, especially social networking sites, has opened up for the teeming netizens on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and the rest.

However, as Nigerians have a predilection for distorting the original idea behind everything new, social media is becoming a potent weapon of social menace. Given that at least, 7.2 million Nigerians visit Facebook daily, out of over 16 million active users it has, it goes without saying that perhaps the path to social sanity begins from ridding the social media  from its multifaceted menace.

Some of the social media-induced social menace in our society today include giving us a false sense of association (we don’t relate with people again, we relate with technology), the growing spectre of cybercrime, distraction, crowd mentality (inability to think independently thereby succumbing to groupthink and mob mentality) and breach of privacy.

On crime, the unfortunate story of Cynthia Osokogu who left Abuja in late July, 2012 to meet some Facebook friends in Lagos is still fresh in mind. These real fiends that posed as virtual friends ultimately lulled her to a hotel in Festac where she was robbed, abused and strangled to death. Though the perpetrators of the dastardly act were eventually caught, the life of the young lady hacked down at her prime could not be restored.

Many people have exploited the social media space to throw all decorum to the wind. It is becoming normal for your sight to be assaulted with soft and hard pornographic materials in photographs and videos unabashedly posted or uploaded by those seeking cheap attention. There is also the dangerous dimension of cyber-bullying through which foul language is used to relentlessly attack individuals and people whose crime may be as innocuous as holding a different opinion.

This is the point stridently made by the revered icon and Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Bayo Onanuga, when he was pounced on recently by those he classified as “lynch-mob, cyber-hyenas, cyber-vandals, character assassins” who are “always on the prowl, looking for preys to desecrate and mutilate, all because the victims’ viewpoint does not tally with their jaundiced position.”

The indecorous use of language and the increasing resort to psychological terrorism and  verbal violence by young Nigerians call for concern. Dr Reuben Abati once talked of how how “the cynics, the pestle-wielding critics, the unrelenting, self-appointed activists, the idle and idling, twittering, collective children of anger, the distracted crowd of Facebook addicts, the BBM-pinging soap opera gossips of Nigeria” gave him hell.

Seventy years ago, George Orwell wrote his essay, “Politics and the English Language”, in which he lamented the deterioration that language had suffered which made Modern English to be “full of bad habits which spread by imitation.” Orwell related the atmostphere to language and thought, submitting that “when the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer" and that it is the “slovenliness of our language” that “makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.”

A casual excursion through the social media space would actually prove how "foolish" many people  are, since we are what we think, through their indecorous language. This virus has even infested some religious and public personalities whose speech and writing, circulated on the social media, are a disgrace to those they claim to represent. Some of them now specialize in spewing hate out of their odoriferous buccal and mental cavities.

There is also a silent but powerful feeling of low self esteem that people unwittingly entangle themselves in through the social media. Known as “amour propre”, many people have felt hurt, unloved, deserted and inferior just because their posts or photographs have less "likes" than their friends’. They become withdrawn, frustrated and desperate to gain people’s attention - all for nothing.

In essence, social media is a double-edged sword that can make or mar, depending on how it is used. The essential thing is for all to be mindful of what they use the social media for because the chickens will come home  to roost, ultimately.

Re: GMOs: Fire on the mountain!

A nation bereft of ideas would always struggle to make a headway. The evil motive of the Federal Ministry of Health to handover health institutions to the foreign conglomerates is uncalled for and a threat to our collective . GMO is a threat to Nigeria agricultural business that could hinder massive employment opportunities in the sector and threat to our health.  – Aina Akindele Oyembanji, Ketu, Lagos State

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3 Responses

  1. Aina Akindele Oyebanji
    Aina Akindele Oyebanji

    Social media has built a lot friendship across political, ethnic and religion divide, serve as platform to learn and encourage advocacy on issues of importance. Social menace has espoused the negative spirit in most of the who believe they can unleash anger online.

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  2. Horlatungy Kudos Eletu
    Horlatungy Kudos Eletu

    Just as wonderful and interesting like every other publications I have seen from you sir. But on the issue of NAN boss that was vilified and bullied online, I will say he is the cause of his own predicament. The publication that brought him the trouble wasn’t well researched not presented in the proper way. For someone like him who has the ears of the president, such undilopmatic statements he made about the situation of average Nigerians are unacceptable. I won’t say more than that sir.

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