by Ndidi Ekeh
We now live in a generation of phantom personalities…
I admit! I do have a Facebook account with over 2000 friends and a Twitter account with over 500 followers. It is not because I am a local champion, a celebrity or even a popular self-accomplished individual. On the other hand, I simply represent the average Nigerian youth that has been bitten by the social networking bug.
Today’s world is one that has been fast-tracked by technological advancements. A world where the rise of communication in technology has broken all boundaries and has defeated the issue of social class, race and status, where new friendships have been created and old friends have been reunited and one that encourages partnership across the globe. Suddenly, we are no longer bothered about the issues of time and space as infotainment enjoys full coverage in the virtual world. Even further that everyone claims to be a computer literate simply because they own and actively operate a Facebook and Twitter account.
Because of the wide and vast coverage of this medium, and the discovery of the extent to which these networking sites can influence the youth from this part of the world, a lot of leaders and even the President (the man who brought Facebook to Nigeria) made use of these networks for his campaign purposes.
My argument against this on-going trend is that which borders on the nature of these cyber social contacts and the question of how closely knitted the world has become. Or rather, how non-committal to a cause the human race has also become, because beyond the basic ideas of searching out old friends comes the support for causes. Prior to the introduction of these social networking sites, rallying people around a common goal took more than a person being committed. It meant the full attention and accountability of such individual to be able to influence people around his immediate environment. But today supporting a cause is just a click away, you retweet, hit the like button or create a group and you have automatically championed a cause, no more is demanded of you.
Chat sites and the recently introduced tweet-meet are set up every day involving arguments on different issues. The passion of our youth about various issues can be applauded, but how much of an interest do they really put in? Unfortunately the Internet today stands as the only viable medium where young Nigerians feel they have a voice. This is not because they have been told otherwise, but because of the vague yet passionate nature to which pressing issues are given interest to in the cyber world.
Another argument against this latest trend is the online personality people create for themselves, going along with the band wagon to whatever goes on in the web sphere. We now live in a generation of phantom personalities, as popularity is now being measured not on the physical works of a person but on the number of followers he is able to get online. I know one or two persons who told me the only thing they know how to do best is surf the web and I do not doubt them one bit as they are demi gods on the Internet and less than average in actual life. Internet fraud cannot be excluded from this piece as it has only become glaring as the days go by.
However, despite the argument that this hang-up should be controlled and the alarming rate at which inclination to the Internet increases amongst the youth, it is important to consider that this is a healthy kind of addiction as it keeps the formally idle mind busy and free from thoughts likely to hurt his immediate environment.