BY DANNISH ODONGO
When a new millennium came upon us, the way the world interacts radically changed. The launch of social media was termed as the new world order. Then, it was just a basic platform for interaction and not for business. Sites like MySpace and LinkedIn gained prominence in the early 2000s, and sites like Photo bucket and Flickr facilitated online photo sharing. YouTube came out in 2005, creating an entirely new way for people to communicate and share with each other across great distances.
But even with their popularity, they were viewed as more of elitists platforms and not for the masses leave alone businesses.
Times have changed, there is no business that can lay claim to being in operation without a comprehensive digital media platform and strategy. According to a report by BAKE (Bloggers Association of Kenya) over 4.3 million Kenyans are active on Facebook, 2.1 million users have accounts on Twitter, 26.1 million Internet users in Kenya, the value of online advertising industry in Kenyan stands at Ksh.165 billion in 2015 and expected to grow to Ksh. 301 Billion by 2018. There are 15,000 registered blogs and Linkedin has 1.5 million users
According to internet world stats 2015 report, Kenya is third in Africa in internet penetration trailing Egypt and Nigeria. With that said, we can now put things into perspective on why we need to be extra vigilant about social media use in Kenya without curtailing human right freedoms as envisaged in the bill of rights of the 2010 Kenyan constitution.
A few rotten apples might sabotage the noble agenda that can be achieved through this platform.
So I’ve been meaning to address a few people (actually a considerable number) by saying what I consider to be long overdue. If we don’t deal with the rotten apples within KOT, we shall render the platform useless. With the risk of sounding self-righteous, these rotten apples hate knowledge and despise wisdom. They spend more time tweeting and retweeting what they don’t understand instead of reading books to make their online conversation wittier. But from the abundance of the mind, the tweets speak. Because I can’t hold my peace any longer in this sea of buffoonery, I’m willing to take up the cross of truth and head to Golgotha.
My beef has got little to do with their presence in the blogosphere, but rather what we stand to lose as a nation should these people be allowed to continue in their tyranny of futility. While nations like Guatemala, the Arab spring, South Africa’s #FeesMustFall #RhodesMustFall, USA’s #BlackLivesMatter among others show the power of Twitter, what a section of KOT pride themselves in is the ability to churn out nauseating dumb conversations online. While a section of the #KOT community continues to engage in meaningful debates, the majority are drowning in their self-imposed floods of inanity. Why do I say so?
In 2015, some of these ‘influencers’ came up with some of the dumbest trending topics in the history of Twitter. But more heartbreaking is that they seem to have a group of simpletons who follow their trains more like sheep headed for slaughter. A majority of them suffer from personal deficiencies and the only way; at least in their deluded mind, to compensate for that is to amass enough followers. The allure of fame and the vain chase of significance is consuming them day and night. The problem is that meaningful conversations are sacrificed at the altar of this inanity. Some of us are then forced to suffocate under the floods of meaningless trends.
What happened to the content being king? What happened to the cardinal rule of investing in our minds more? Some of the so-called influencers and their acts of buffoonery are turning a progressive platform into a circus where fountains of folly freely flow into the mouths of their followers. The platform is such a meaningful place for the articulation of progressive ideals for us to fold our arms and watch it being hijacked by hollow chat.
Some of these people who constantly attack others on twitter are cowards in real life. These are bullies who used to be tormented by their peers. But to try and overcompensate for their inadequacies, they hide behind 140 characters and attack people who are trying to do meaningful things with their lives. Some of them are naturally bitter and instead of seeing therapists, they are busy infecting innocent minds with baggage that they have intentionally acquired over the years and they aren’t willing to deal with.
Why don’t you write an article that can communicate what is in your heart than begin a trend that attacks private citizens who have every right to speak? Yes, we know that you feel bad about yourself. But if you don’t come out and ask for help, how can we ever offer any? But instead of attacking people without reason or cause, why don’t you invest in improving whatever area of your life you feel is inadequate? You cannot go far by bringing people down. The more you try to drag them to your level is the more they will continue to soar high.
Go back to school, put that phone away and read a book, engage in meaningful discussions with people who actually empower their brains, watch a documentary, travel around a bit. What I’m saying in short is this; empower your brain because you are likely to reap more from it. That is what will emancipate you from your inferiority complex that forces you to have a vendetta against people who are doing something meaningful with their lives.
Guns for hire
The most annoying section of KOT are these people. My goodness, you would think that they bathe, drink, eat, dress and consume raw folly. Because the amount of it that they spew is enough to reduce the IQ of Albert Einstein to that of a fish if he was alive today and he accidentally got in contact with it. At one time, a CEO of a local bank was embroiled in a reputation crisis. As with every knee jerk reaction; after being hired, one of the guns for lease decided to tweet that the local CEO had done so much to the customers of the bank by installing WiFi in the banking halls. This he claimed helped the customers to do online banking.
And that summarizes the inanity that these guns for hire exhibit. They don’t research, they have no facts and they jump into conversations without regard to whether they are factual or not. But laying your tattered garments of folly before the entire world summarizes the height of this buffoonery. These guns for hire are more concerned about earning Shs 5,000 at the expense of their reputation and credibility (I’m assuming that they have one).
Lack of creativity
Some of these people lack any ability to be creative and they can’t show any initiative. In fact, their lack of creativity is so infectious I wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. The words digital media strategist, blogger are some of the words that need to be updated in the list of the most abused words.
If you want to be called a strategist, then show us some of the successful digital plans you have executed. Awareness alone is not enough. When you lie to desperate customers in a bid to fleece them their hard earned money, you are committing a crime that you will one day pay for dearly. For your information, social media marketing is only one element in a large ocean of marketing strategy. And they are all related to the body, one cannot perform without the other.
As I close this discussion, with a tool such as twitter, it can either be misused or be used for good. The entire Arab spring was catalyzed by this platform. Therefore, as the elections are drawing nearer, we can either choose to use this platform responsibly or continue in this irresponsible route we are taking at the expense of the peace of our nation. We can either choose to inject professionalism in this platform or continue to operate like people living in the stone age. Short-term gains should not blind us from long term goals.
Let us be careful which conversations we join online. Let us have facts before we burn relations between countries. Let us watch out lest we spark ethnic cleansing through this platforms. We must be responsible gatekeepers. But if we don’t listen, we can continue to poke a bear with a stick in the hope that nothing tragic will happen.