Issues

SOCIAL MEDIA AND THOUGHT PROCESS: A REFLECTION

By Obatunde Adetola

There is no doubting the obvious facts that social media has added value to human lives in terms of connectivity and quick share of information for human progress. In fact, this generation cannot complain of lack of information on any subject matter of life as the people of the days of old. They are indeed ‘suffocated’ with useful and ‘non-useful’ information every second at their palms. What is in doubt however, is the depth of ‘value added’ of social media on our thought process as a people generally but importantly the thought process among those that are lettered and ought to have wisdom, knowledge and understanding about issues of life, its understanding, control and management such that the society remains stable and peaceful for growth and development.

I have raised this thought provoking idea going by our engagement on social media platforms and I saw how public discuss have been polluted, adulterated, contaminated, poisoned and have become toxic to the extent that social relations are being affected adversely on and offline. Some are quickly managed and order is restored; some actually went out of control and things fell apart. I am guilty of this situation having being involved on one or two occasions in very avoidable altercations with one or two of my colleagues on our senior staff club whatsapp chart room. Though, I know those I had hot arguments with; we still relate very well on and offline. In fact, the last Christmas and New Year between us were full of exchange of gifts and we all rejoiced together into 2019.

On a deep reflection on what and how people respond to issues on all these platforms, I came to the conclusion that something fundamental has gone wrong somewhere and as a Social Scientist I began to search what, where, when, and how things got wrong in our public discussion. In the yore days, we used to cherish public discussions and debates under a well regulated social order. As a secondary school boy, I used to buy Daily Times and Sketch with the support of my semi-literate mother-Iye Nuru- who often made available her resources to me to do my literary navigation every daily at her expense. Those days, when you read Aiyekooto of Late Bisi Onabanjo-in whose name Olabisi Onanbajo University is christened after his demise; you cannot but lick your lips after drinking from the fountain of knowledge. What about Aba Saheed, our own Araba and Akogun of Yoruba land. Then, when you read Dr. Tai Solarin’s Column, you must but be informed and transformed. You remember the Esa-Oke man, the Cicero of his own generation, I mean Uncle Bola Ige’s Column. There was public discuss!

My worry with the advent of social media is the way public discuss has degenerated to the extent that even those who ought to know better are submerged in the fray of quick response and first to share syndrome of the social media without a thorough thoughts process on the subject matter. This is not only harmful to us as a society; it is negatively demeaning to individuals of thought. I sometimes wondered when I see some comments on social issues posted by respected individuals in Nigeria; I asked myself, what is going on? It is a consistent trend and pattern of unsatisfactory social anomaly that made me to abstain, sit back and reflect properly and I came up with what I am sharing with you now.

Granted, the social media platform may not be a place to do ‘serious rigour’ as was done those days in terms of public discuss. This day, is certainly not those days. Nevertheless, we could at least, do some deep thoughts on whatever we post or share. If you are in doubt, leave it out. If you are excited, think again especially about your social status, the motive and impact of what you intend to share. If you wish put it through the four way test of the Rotary Club: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concern? Will it build goodwill and better friendship? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? I am not a member of Rotary Club but I love this creed as it relate to this matter. In this regard therefore, I wish to share a post I came across that identifies with my thoughts about the goings on in the social media posted by Jazben Ajayi on OOULIB Group on 16th January, 2019, though copied from somewhere else. It admonished that: Learn how to interact with people on social media. Some of your “friends” here are probably as old as your father, mother, aunt, uncle, brother and sister. Some of them are the CEOs and MDs of your dream company. Some of them could be the catalyst for a lifelong professional and personal transformation. Treat everyone with dignity and respect they deserve (and even the ones you think they don’t deserve). Under no circumstance must you resort to abuse, name calling, caustic comments, slandering and others. Don’t be in the bad book of your future interviewer because of Buhari and Atiku. Appreciate diversity; respect other people’s opinions and political inclination. Instead of saying “People that support Atiku/Buhari are senseless”, why not put it as “I don’t understand why people still support Atiku/Buhari”? You don’t have to respond to every unpleasant, opposing, disgusting post. You have the option of scrolling down/up or even “unfriend” such person. You have no moral obligation to correct everyone’s mistake and people are not under any obligation to echo your views about a subject matter.

I know of a friend that literally aced an interview for an important position because the interviewer knew him from Facebook. Imagine if he had been utterly disrespectful to the person while enjoying the relative anonymity that the social media gives. Social media is not a battle ground where you should fight people. Remove people that you don’t like from your “friends list”. Avoid passing negative comments and if you must correct any anomaly, you can always inbox the person in a very calm, matured and persuasive manner. Be cautious, the internet never forgets! Copied Back to my questions: what has happened is the fact that the features of social media are crafted around the Eagles Dynamics that is fundamentally and genetically rooted in speed and swiftness in all interaction. Unfortunately, not all interaction requires the dynamics of social media. This we need to know and embrace as a society. It therefore means that the necessary checks, controls and options have to be adopted at both the individual and collective levels for the good of our society. Where we have gone wrong is the elastic and seeming lack of control and regulations that could guide what is shared in the public as it is done under regular press gave room for Citizen Journalism and all went down!

When speed takes hold of us without regulations, then things began to fall apart and we were all consumed in the trend without question. Being social animal, we want to belong and in the process we lost our depth, riguor and analytical thoughtful minds at one point or the other. How we got into this thoughtlessness is part of the dynamics of the society of the Eagles we found ourselves. Almost everything done in today’s world is ‘less’ of some things, which used to enhance relationship and durability. Wireless, cordless, paperless, cashless and so on and now we all moved unknowingly into the era of thoughtlessness with its phenomenal negative impact in the society. Way out? ‘Doveliness’ will help us out in this era of Eagles Dynamics without love and care.

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