Has the Internet Encouraged the Promotion of Corougeous Cowards Courtesy of Social Media?
The analogue age debates and respect for opinion
In the context of African lifestyle, gone are the days when we visited each other to find out how we were doing, we genuinely cared about each other, and we took turns to listen to each other. In school, we belonged to debating clubs that allowed us to support or oppose motions, and after such debates there were no ill feelings harbored by either side. Everyone understood there was nothing personal; it was just an opinion, not a fact. The debates were mostly face to face, with no walls or barriers, and through these debates we improved our spoken English and developed broader views, which helped us perceive issues from different perspectives. We learnt that differing opinions did not necessarily make us enemies, it just meant that we were different. And after all why would we not be different? Other than culture and environment, no two individuals can be the same, for we all bear different genes. we felt safe to express our thoughts and opinions, and I also believe we developed better relationships at home, school and even work place, in other words there was more respect, tolerance and patience for one another. The older generation developed friendships spanning their life time, which is not the same with the younger generation. Respect for the opinion of others should be considered a basic human right for the promotion of individual freedom rights.
Digital entered with pomp and attempted to throw out the baby with the bath water
With the introduction of the computer, life changed completely, and continues to change rapidly with each passing year. with the computer, came the internet. We stopped visiting each other or writing letters to one another and instead we made calls to each other to pass vital information only or sent each other emails. We stopped seeking opinion from each other and relied more on the internet, and we took pride in globalization and our children copied culture and norms from across borders. There were less and less debates as many relied on the internet for what they believed is "factual " information. We grew apart and became less tolerant and less patient with each other. Now we have at least two generation of kids who cannot articulate respect for differing opinion, they talk or respond to every subject, and contribute little substance! If you dare challenge them, they will hide behind the internet and hurl stones and bricks at both passers by and residents a like. They have adopted interrupting or disruption as the main conversation and they don't see anything wrong with it.
The introduction of social media has worsened the situation. Sometime back I listened to a Facebook interview between a Kenyan radio journalist and a Kenyan gospel musician. When asked why she did not marry someone from her district/region, the musician responded that men from her community did not approach her, and she went further to give her opinion that men from this community tend to be introverted when it came to love matters. I personally thought it was a good interview, but soon after and for three consecutive weeks men and women, but more men from the community were outraged fro being called "introverted" and they went on rampage on Facebook and Instagram to denounce the singer. Some responses which included video clips bordered abuse or officially cyber bullying, they called her obscene names! From this and other incidents I concluded that social media tends to operate like a school or a worker's union strike platform, where people hide behind others and shout obscenities at the top of their voices. Like in a strike, I'm certain that if these respondents are asked to stand individually and articulate their grievances, some will not even know what the basic tenets of the conversation were, because they were riding on statements of other people. It is like people on social media tend to speak and then think afterwards, and then we call this development while in actual fact we are retrogressing. Each individual is entitled to an opinion regarding any matter of interest, and those throwing stones and bricks on social media should be called out, because they are causing damage to society.
Digital can co-exist with humanity, but there is need to go back to basics, and demonstrate care and understanding for each other, basic respect, and tolerance even on social media. No human being should be made afraid to voice an opinion, as is the case currently in some social media platforms where bullies seem to dominate. We are different but as human beings we are all the same, and if Covid-19 has not proved this fact already, then I don't what worse thing will wake us up. There is need for people on social media to understand the context ,think, and not be carried away by group euphoria before they respond to issues or matters. Development is building, not tearing down. For those posting whether pictures or sentiments, they should not misrepresent the truth just because we cannot face them in person. Life is challenging but we could ease challenges by accepting our differences and building on our similarities.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Teresa Maru