It was a great relieve to read the rebuttal of Professor Wole Soyinka“kongi”to the wildjoke making the rounds on social media about a statement, credited to him wherein he allegedly attributed perceived decision deficit of President Jonathan to the illiteracy of his wife. It is especially heartwarming to know that despiteKongi’saversed disposition to certain mannerisms and actions of the first lady; he has instructively detached himself from the mischievous attempt to drag his lofty posture into the vile arena of sleazy tirade.
And just before I become unduly garbed with the cloak of a Mrs. Jonathan’s apologist, may I announce that I am not. I indeed share the popular sentiment that our dear first lady may be over reaching herself in certain sectors of state functions and that she could actually channel her irrepressible spirit in a more circumspect way to the admiration and applause of all. I am a firm believer in the inherent goodness of every human. There is a good measure of goodness in every person no matter how cruel, absurd, disoriented or self-serving they may appear and vice versa. Indeed the crux of my treatise is to seize the occasion of Prof.’s reaction to call the attention of media enthusiasts and stakeholders and also to add my voice to growing concern about the emerging decadence in the social media especially as it affects politics, governance, civility and leadership in our great nation.
There is no gainsaying that internet has encouraged a free flow of information, knowledge and expression of personal or sectional beliefs from one corner of the globe to the other. It has turned the world into a global village where a little pop in one corner of the earth may resonate across the latitude of its uttermost end. The era of social media has put information-any information just a click away. It has made it extremely easier for people with similar and even dissimilar causes to connect for the attainment of a particular goal. It has enabled global partnerships, cross-fertilization of ideas and productive synergies for a more fulfilling world. It has made it easier for civil societies, rights activists, social commentators, opinion moulders, gifted writers and individuals who may not have had such access to air their views and viewpoints the opportunity to connect, interact, sensitize and galvanize actions to address a common concern.
Conversely and sadly too, the internet or more appropriately social media has been the Launch pad of base, mundane, vile, dirty, irresponsible, illogical, cheap, unsolicited, unfounded, unguarded and all sorts of negative free-flowing information. This might be attributed to the duplicity, uncensored and the overlying anonymous nature of the social media. It is an indictment on new media that every wild rumour, base talk or silly actfinds its roots for propagation in social media. Today, anyone can hide, albeit tentatively behind their screen and keyboard to release toxic information or offensive materials that could spark global conflagration. The sense of responsibility would not afford me space to make specific references but the informed would not agree less. A short visit to the comments section of most online news pages and blogs will expressly portray how low we have gone as a people in our language and mutual respect for divergent views.
Shall we then throw away the baby with the bathwater?Certainlyno. New media, via the internet has offered us endless possibilities hear and be heard, to see and be seen and to be ourselves without fear of being stifled or permanently silenced. These are chances not readily available in conventional media where the overlords determine what we should say or see.All we need is to re-orientate ourselves away from the path of extremism and irresponsibility and the honourable path of modesty, honesty and tolerance. Luckily for us, Professor Wole Soyinka has given an instructive caution that all of us-bloggers, news outlets, commentators, public affairs analysts,regulators and other internet users can put to heart.
- “To speak generally, Internet abuse is getting to be a universal plague, one that goes beyond personal embarrassment and umbrage. I strongly recommend collective, professional action to protect the integrity of the medium, and save it from becoming a mere vomitorium for unprincipled scallywags with, or even with no particular axe to grind. Such a trend is fraught with outright danger, and should not be underestimated.”
Adenekan John, a critic and public affairs analyst writes from Abuja