Is Social Media of such importance that they can now determine personal happiness or unhappiness, even War and Peace? Like most other tools available to man, Social Media can be used for the Good, the Bad and the
Ugly. Let us start with the Ugly so that we can save the best for the last. Social Media and Social Networking platforms can take away your right to life, if you let them, and I mean both literally and figuratively. Let me recast that, depending on who you are, what stuff you are made of, whether you are made of the sterner stuff, whether you come from a supportive family where there is both tough love and compassion, and more importantly whether you yourself have great dreams for your future or not; the people you meet on Facebook, especially when you are young and vulnerable, can cost you your life, or your happiness both present and future. You have heard of killers, rapists and kidnappers, they operate both in the light of day as well as in the shadows, they also operate in social media and on social networks, not only in Nigeria, but in other parts of the world. Nick McGillivary puts it in stark simple terms, “Criminals use social media to commit crimes. Robbers know when you’re away from your home on vacation and stalkers get information about your whereabouts via social media.
Sexual predators find, stalk, and assault victims through social media.” In 2012, stalkers found and seduced Cynthia Osokogu on Facebook, lured her to Lagos from Jos, drugged, robbed, raped and killed her in a most brutal manner. It is just a small consolation that in May last year, Okwumo Nwabuzor and his nephew, Olisaeloka Ezike, were sentenced to death for her murder. Through social media, people you know or don’t even know can steal your identity, clear your bank accounts, post horrid tales and pictures in your name, beg for money from your friends and acquaintances selling them urgent tearjerking fake stories of your accident or misfortune in foreign lands. If you send inappropriate photos and videos of yourself to your social media “friends”, you may find yourself naked on the World Wide Web, shred of all your dignity, your family name soiled forever. Photos or no photos, social networking makes it possible for vicious minded persons to bully others either anonymously or openly. Several young persons across the world have committed suicide as a result of cyberbullying. A variant of cyberbullying is sexting in which some members of your circle or predators who somehow get hold of your personal information, send sexually revealing pictures of themselves to you, or invite or coerce you to do the same. For those of you who may think this is a cool thing to do, or girls, you want to retain your boyfriend at all costs, just remember,
THE INTERNET NEVER FORGETS, no matter how many times you delete. The internet is a permanent record of your deeds and misdeeds. A few years down the line, when you are looking for admission or that great job, the harm you do to yourself now may be waiting at the door, determined to take its pound of flesh. Over and beyond individual anguish, social media can be and is recklessly being used in Nigeria to ignite hatred and civil war among its nationalities and religious faiths. And you guessed right, it is basically young people who are recruited and being used for these online wars. Beyond our shores, hate-filled twitters and gender bashing propelled now President Trump into the White House where he is finding out that while it is easy to erect a throne of bayonets, you will not find it easy to sit on it. Permit me to quote at length from Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s speech at the Senior Course 39, at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, on Friday, 23 June, 2017.
In the past few weeks we have as a nation witnessed the escalation of such agitations usually couched in deliberately intemperate and provocative language. The reckless deployment of hate speech and the loud expressions of prejudice and hate, name calling of those of other ethnicities and faiths is a new and destructive evil in our public discourse. But even more divisive words, expressions, and actions calculated to create fear and uncertainty have also been freely used. Young people in the South-Eastern states under the aegis of IPOB, issued a stay at home order as part of actions to prove support for their agitations for secession. In the Northern states young people under the aegis of the Arewa youth, issued an ultimatum to Igbos living in the Northern states to vacate before the 1st of October. The problem with hate-filled and divisive speech is that they tap into some of the basest human instincts, bringing up irrational suspicions, fear, anger, and hatred and ultimately mindless violence. People who have lived together as neighbours and friends suddenly begin to see each other as mortal enemies. Most appropriately, he cited the genocide in Rwanda, where between 7 April and July 1994, hate media, especially the notorious Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines incited the killing of over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus considered Tutsi sympathizers in the Rwandan genocide, were roused by hate media. If a small radio station can cause such havoc, imagine what a thousand online blogs can do in the hands of hot-headed youths operating under pseudonyms on social media.