by Tolu Orekoya
‘Never talk to strangers’ the childhood admonition says. That does not quite work when you are grown and sexy and trying to find a date, or a spouse. In today’s world we rely on BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook, Twitter, heck even the new dating startup BestD8.com has its fans. Dating is never easy and since some reside in more conservative corners of the country, social media is one of the few avenues where they get to ‘hookup’ (as in, ‘connect’) with members of the opposite sex on their own terms.
It might just be a tunnel that leads to immorality, the death and destruction of marriages, and the decline of civilisation if we are to believe the opinion piece posted on the Daily Trust on May 25, 2012.
Written by Safiya I. Dantie it starts of with the tragic re-telling of two separate cases that have happened in the Northern city of Kano where BlackBerry friends have ended up dying together:
In any case, this sad event , the second in Kano, is quite frightening. The first case was on March 14, this year ,where Abubakar Abba and Ummalkhair Muhammad were found dead in Kundila Housing Estate, Maiduguri Road. They met through networking and became blackberry messaging friends.
And now to be confronted again by the death of Najib Aliyu Yunusa and Nadiya Abdullahi Gwammaja in similar circumstances. They were also BlackBerry friends and decided to meet on Friday only for their decomposing bodies to be discovered three days later. Najib was married with two children while Nadiya was a divorcee with a six -year old daughter.
There has to be skepticism that this is a trend. At best it is coincidence; the two incidents occurring close to each other does not a trend make. Still the author’s friend was not taking any chances with her daughter.
She told me that she talked to her daughters and nieces about never to enter a stranger’s car. She also warned them about the so-called networking friends.
She lays the blame of the deaths at social networking’s door and makes a strange and tenuous connection between that and women who enter the cars of strange men in order to get a lift.
As many young girls that I talked to protested that they were not participating in any social networking, so it is not likely for them to meet with any man they might have met through facebook, blackberry and so on. But then young girls can easily fall prey to men in expensive cars, who see them along the road, by offering to take them to their destination, also known as lift. Taking such lifts may land some girls into trouble. They may be drugged and taken elsewhere to be raped, or for ritual murder.
Facebook and BlackBerry: the gateway to rape and murder. Then there is alway the “I know of this couple that this totally impossible thing happened to” story:
Networking may have worked positively with some people where it led to marriage, but it can also be a cause of breaking up of marriages. Married women have male friends and chat with them, some even meet them. There is the case of one couple making rounds that unknowingly met through networking and decided to meet physically. The meeting turned awry, because at the venue the husband and wife met! Apparently they both used false names to hide their true identity and prevent being caught by each other.
At this point it is not difficult to see that this is yet another story warning women to stay in the house “and keep their legs closed”, and it throws in a “don’t get a fancy phone or use the computer” telling off as well, because, you know, all those things will make you promiscuous and kill you.
And her advice to the guys who might be picking up women at the side of the road?
Young men with cars at their disposal should also be warned against picking women and going somewhere secluded. If they want to marry such women they should visit them in their parents’ houses.
Never mind that THE paragraph before that, she paints such men as rapists and murderers, but if they come to your house, they are okay? Yes, there are pitfalls to transitioning from social network connections to real world face-to-face, but the idea that because you haven’t met someone means that you can’t be friends means that the era of ‘pen pals’ was just a scheme to fatten the post offices’ pockets.