Opinion: Simple tricks, simple minds & Wendell Simlin

by Ebi Bozimo

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I asked for objective proof of this scandal and was shown a grainy screen shot of a mouse-over that supposedly identified Reno Omokri as the ‘author’ of a file. I mused over the significance of this because I thought it was common knowledge that anyone with even modest computer skills could create a ‘username’ for a Word Document to show whoever they wish as author.

In a world accustomed to ‘instant coffee, pancakes or lemonade’ we have a first: instant gullibility – on an epic scale.

Amidst legitimate demands by people of goodwill that the heinous degenerates who killed children and adults in Yobe are brought to justice, emerged an allegation, masked as a ‘discovery’ that the special adviser on social media to President Jonathan, Reno Omokri, had been ‘outed’.

Given the politics of contemporary Nigeria, I was agog at the prospect of someone so close to the presidency being sentenced to 14 years in the slammer for a violation of the recently signed law prohibiting homosexual association in Nigeria. However, I was quickly and indisputably informed that Reno had not been accused of anything remotely along those lines. Instead, I learned that his ‘outing’ involved his being identified as a certain ‘Wendell Simlin’ who was purported to have sent an article to an online medium for publication.

Intrigued by how Nigerian social media circles were abuzz with the news, I asked for objective proof of this scandal and was shown a grainy screen shot of a mouse-over that supposedly identified Reno Omokri as the ‘author’ of a file. I mused over the significance of this because I thought it was common knowledge that anyone with even modest computer skills could create a ‘username’ for a Word Document to show whoever they wish as author. This goes beyond whether or not Reno Omokri is truly ‘Wendell Simlin’; it is really about how simple it is to fool people with prior predilections into believing anything.

The joke is on the social media mavens who pride themselves on being on the cutting edge and up to the minute with world-wide goings on. Their pretensions to knowledge are, regrettably, accompanied by a paucity of critical thinking, technological competence and grievous, almost culpable, gullibility. Media channels function effectively as echo chambers where people see something matching their predispositions and retweet, share or forward them on any of the limitless electronic platforms available, sans conscious cogitation. Due to the self-reinforcing structure of a frequently repeated lie, the consequence is a mistaken belief that allegations or accusations are indeed ‘truth’. Au contraire!

The truth is that only a few people have actually benefited from a long-term culture of dreadful crimes against Nigeria and her people. Others are doing everything possible to counter decades of disgraceful, distasteful and dastardly waste. For the short sighted, it is a battle between the ‘north’ and ‘south’ or class warfare between the rich and poor. I see it as those who think and require proof confronting those who unstintingly swallow ‘common knowledge’ hence the latter’s easy acceptance of electronic trickery in this context. A novel national direction will be determined not by the capacity to accept easy answers but the ability to ask hard, even unpopular questions. People who have benefited from the chaos of the past half-century must be prevented from obscuring the vision, message and prospects of those who see a better, brighter, promising future for Nigeria where every citizen and person of goodwill can benefit from Nigeria’s bounty and blessings.

Speaking of blessings, social media ‘activists’ should spare a thought for those in Yobe and Adamawa grieving the loss of their children and parents and collaborate with the Red Cross to provide desperately needed support and succour rather than engaging in self-serving, meaningless ‘protests’ directed at the wrong targets.

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This article was published with permission from TelegraphNG Newspapers

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

 

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