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Social media communication and the new barbarians

Douglas Anene

The expression “electronic socialisation” is used here as a category for all contemporary innovative electronic modules through which people in different parts of the globe communicate and interact with each other.

Of  connectivity is the backbone that supports social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype, U-Tube and so on. But then, enhanced capabilities of transnational information superhighway are a mixed blessing. Novel communication systems allow people everywhere to communicate and interact almost at the speed of light.

Moreover, because humans are social animals that must necessarily exchange ideas, feelings and data with one another, information and communication technologies have vastly intensified contacts across geographical, racial, sociology-political and economic boundaries.

Unfortunately fraudsters, ritual murderers, robbers and all manner of devilish individuals exploit social media networks to commit atrocities. The recent tragic death of Cynthia Osokogu in the hands of two barbarians is a ringing warning about the dangers of uncritical reliance on electronic socialisation without appropriate safeguards.

This particular incident has been intensively reported by the Nigerian media probably because the victim was the daughter of a “big man,” a retired Major-General of the Nigerian army. If Cynthia was the daughter of poor and insignificant parents who belong to the class Frantz Fanon described as “wretched of the earth,” it is very unlikely that her death would be given that kind of sustained prominent reportage.

This goes to show that in our country there is bias in favour of rich and prominent members of the society. That said, the conduct of the two men docked for the terrible crime against Cynthia, Okwuoma Echezona Nwabufor and Ezekiel Odera Ikechukwu Olisa is, to put it mildly, a paradigm instantiation of the bestial nature of man. Both men deceived the young lady into thinking that they were friends and genuine business partners, but they heinously betrayed her trust.

Therefore Cynthia’s death, whether unintentional or otherwise, is the culmination of a chain of events triggered the very first day she began communicating electronically with Okwuoma and Odera. Let us consider briefly the major causative factors that produce human beings capable of deceit, rape and murder simultaneously.

There is adequate scientific evidence that the complex dialectical interactions between biologically inherited traits and environmental factors determine human behaviour. Experts in the study of human behaviour agree that every human being is the product of nature and nurture.

Specifically, each and every one of us is a complex amalgam of genetically determined traits we inherited from our parents and the nexus environmental variables which determine how and to what extent our inherited traits manifest in our practice of life. Naturally, there is disagreement about which percentage of actual behaviour is attributable to biology and to the environment respectively.

Nevertheless, aside from people with congenital physical and mental disabilities, it is expected that the normal socialising functions of the family, school and society in general, acting on the substructure of genetics, would produce human beings mature enough to handle the challenges of life in a rational and responsible manner.

Given that the personal character or personality of individuals is crucially determined by upbringing at home and the school, it is highly probable that Okwuoma and Odera are products of dysfunctional families or a failed school system that is increasingly incapable of instilling appropriate values in children.

In most families, especially since 1970, parents and guardians have virtually abandoned parenting in the quest for money. As a result, there is a deadly developmental lacuna during the crucial formative years in the life of majority of children born from that year onwards. The problem is compounded by a dominant social character which extols and celebrates greed, power and wealth rather than intelligence, contentment and humane living.

Keep in mind that despite increasing religiosity in Nigeria the noxious eddies of immorality and wickedness are spreading like an epidemic. In my opinion Okwuoma and Odera represent the polluted moral ecology of contemporary Nigeria, a telling indictment of our inability to create a humane society.

As an academic, I feel disgusted that the barbarians who killed Cynthia are students of tertiary institutions. Of course, universities across the country are not doing enough to weed out bad students, judging by the persistence of cultism, examination malpractices, and different kinds of fraudulent activities among students. In some cases, the bad eggs are children and wards of university staff and prominent members of the society.

Hence university authorities should tighten, and strictly enforce, rules and regulations guiding the conduct of students to eliminate misfits among them, and avoid the usual practice of succumbing to pressures from big men and thick madams. Beastly behaviour by human beings should make people question the theological assertion that man was made in the image of God.

Like most religious notions, the idea that human beings are created in the image of a divine being is vague and paradoxical. Christians and Muslims tend to ascribe good deeds to God and evil ones to Satan or Lucifer, based on the belief that God and Satan are objectively existing entities

. But if, according to scripture, everything, including the fallen angel Lucifer, was created by God, then God bears ultimate responsibility for both good and evil. Hence, logically speaking, God is both good and evil. This conclusion fits very well with the human potential for good and evil. Now, the biblical assertion that an omnipotent, omniscient and infinitely

good God made man in His own image is inconsistent with the fact of evil and wickedness in the world. Most believers are not intellectually honest and courageous enough to acknowledge this. Nevertheless, we must honestly accept that it is absurd for an all-powerful and loving God to allow the sort of evil that befell Cynthia. All said and done, Cynthia has died and nothing matters to her anymore. We commiserate with the family and friends she left behind. There are important lessons from Cynthia’s heart-wrenching demise.

The first one is that we should be cautious in trusting people, because there are many sheep in wolves’ clothing out there. Second, we must be very careful about the kind of personal details we give to those we meet through social media networks –minimalism should be the watchword. Three, we must periodically embark on cost-benefit analysis of our activities through Facebook, Twitter, Blackberry pinging etc.

In my own case, I found chatting on Facebook irritating, time wasting, superfluous: when I had Blackberries I never subscribed for pinging. Right now I have quit Facebook and nothing untoward has happened. Do the same today and save yourself from avoidable danger.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.