By now, most of us have conveniently forgotten about the more than 200 Nigerian girls who have been kidnapped by Boko Haram.
We’ve generally gravitated towards the next best hash tag phenomenon. #BringBackOurGirls has been inaptly replaced by a more current topic for everyone who has a Twitter handle to participate in; one which isn’t as pertinent.
That’s social media for you, as fickle as its trending topics are fleeting.
One can’t help but wonder whether the influence social media is rumoured to have on mobilizing organizations, societies and individuals, isn’t just a superficial medium used by people who live under the guise that their 140-character status updates evoke mass action, while they’re sitting on their arses.
Are hash tags really that noteworthy or is it just another way for self-righteous pricks to hop on the pseudo-altruism bandwagon, while gaining a huge following of equally egoistic individuals in the process?
It’s been over a month since those girls were abducted by the terrorist cult, which prompted worldwide social media hysteria. Over a month later, these girls are still missing; albeit their location being allegedly known by Nigerian officials and other international intelligence.
If “the digital media effect” was really as great and powerful as the gurus would have us believe, the mass social media response to the plight of these girls would’ve prompted their release and they would be back home with their families by now.
Social media campaigns may be a great way to promote awareness of certain causes, but its often exaggerated wide reach does not incite radical societal change.
If anything, the excessive use of it to campaign for human rights causes has often created an environment where the initial intention of the cause was completely taken out of context by a sick group of simple-minded people, who derive pleasure from making a mockery of sensitive issues.
The unpalatable truth however, is similar to those subtweets, retweets and mentions directed to those who have slighted you in some trivial way or the other; besides being desensitizing, social media as a medium is also passive.
Perhaps in the future, when the violation of women’s basic rights is no longer shunned upon and all is finally right with the world, social media may prove useful to the bigger cause – far beyond trivial conversations, narcissistic sentiments and momentary crusading. Perhaps.
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