By Francis Ewherido
While growing up, one of the sayings my mother drove into our heads (my siblings and I) is “our own and my own are different.” Most times, you have more control over MY OWN than OUR OWN. Somehow, this saying has influenced my thought process, especially on how and where I spend my time, one of man’s biggest treasures. It also influences the use of my Facebook page.
Also, before I accept a Facebook friend request, I usually go through the person’s page. I have found a trend among youths from Delta State, especially Urhobo youths. Over 80 per cent of the youths who send requests are “politicians” and their pages are filled with political posts. This, on its own, is a worrying sign. Politics is OUR OWN. I often wonder, where is MY OWN? Many of them either do not have MY OWN, or have neglected it. For some, the only progress they know is political appointment or patronage. They have no idea, or are not interested, in developing themselves to realise their innate potentials.
All that is in their heads, especially as 2023 draws near, is politics. I repeat, politics is OUR OWN, especially when you are not the one contesting for the position. Their political posts are not on themselves, but posts promoting their principals and other people. I will not be concerned if I see MY OWN posts too, but nothing about them or what they do for a living. Everything is about other people. Which normal human being does that? You promote OUR OWN and completely ignore MY OWN? The social media are very powerful tools to promote yourself, your work, talents, skills, etc.
That is what many young people are doing. They promote their businesses, talents and skills. In your own case, your page it solely promoting OUR OWN (Mind you, I am not talking about avatars or Facebook pages set up specifically to promote certain causes or political actors). There is nothing wrong in promoting your political leader, but do it alongside yourself and craft. From your Facebook or other social media pages, people should be able to know who you are, your skills or specialty and what you do for a living. If your social media platforms do not market you or your craft, you are wasting away not only your time, but your life.
At the end, when these principals win elections or get appointments, they are unable to accommodate or sort out all their supporters. The supporters left in the lurch resort to abusing their erstwhile political leaders. Yes that happens, but ordinarily, when you work for a leader, who failed an election or turned his back on you, you move on with your life and go back to your craft. But some of these followers have not developed any competencies; they are not adept at anything and that is the real problem, not their political leaders who turned their backs on them. OUR OWN (politics) and MY OWN (your abilities and skills) are different.
Invest in yourself and have a source of livelihood. Do not be like some politicians who are like fish out of water once they lose their political position. A few months without political appointment and they begin to look like desititudes: shabby, unkempt, sickly, hungry and tired. The next thing, they are disposing off assets they accumulated while in office. Youngsters, develop a specific competency that can put food on the table, come what may.
And while promoting one leader, mind the language you use for other leaders. You can be critical without being abusive. In a political space, where there are no ideologies, you can be here today and on the other side tomorrow. If you look at some people’s social media space over a period, you will bury your head in shame for them. The leaders they tore to shreds and poured so much venom and scorn on a while ago are the leaders they are working for and celebrating today.
Sometimes, it looks like the leaders do it to make them objects of public ridicule. Unless you are principled and unbending, a man of core and fundamental conviction, leave room for manoeuvre when you are serving one political leader, so that you will have some dignity left when you cross over to another political leader in hitherto enemy territory.
My other advice for youngsters using Facebook and other social media platforms is that some employers of labour look through the Facebook or other social media pages of potential recruits before inviting them for interviews or giving them jobs. Those vulgar and abusive posts, and extreme views you put out on public space are double edge swords: they can get you praises from your admirers, they can also rob you of job and other opportunities. Recently, a youngster lost a job opportunity because of his extreme religious views.
Some youngsters on social media are apparently frustrated and blow hot hair that will take them nowhere. First get a hold of your life, clear your head to know what you really want in life. That done, search for a mentor to guide you in your chosen path. What many youths need are mentors. A mentor will help you flatten those mountains in your life or at least help diminish them into molehills. Also kick out this microwave mentality. Many things in life are like pregnancy; you cannot naturally shorten the period between conception and delivery. Learn the virtue of patience. Nigeria hard o, but una blood too dey hot, body too dey shook una.
Also, your Facebook page, like your life, should have clarity so that people know who you are, what you stand for, what you do, etc. Some people’s Facebook page is like a junkyard. Everything goes. They put every post they are tagged in on their profile: one post is a pastor preaching, the next is a babalawo promising to make you rich overnight. This is followed by a customs officer offering 2020 Lexus LX 570 for N3m!
Next post is praise worship, followed by a betting post. Who exactly are you? Clarity and consistency, please, youngsters. Clarity is a filter. It enables birds of the same plumage to flock together, while making it easier for certain people to stay away from you. Everybody will never like you or be your friend. Forget Facebook kind of friendship. On Facebook, I smell some people who have problems with my person or what I stand for.
I do not have problems with that because I have similar feelings for some people. It is better to be separated in truth than to be united in falsehood. I resent habitual hypocrites and pretenders (all humankind sometimes pretend and are hypocritical; that is why I added the adjective “habitual”). Why dine with a disguised devil? That is why I never accept friend requests from “customs officers” and “oyinbo women” on Facebook; they are disguised crooks. Also, I do not accept friend requests from people advertising betting on their pages; I do not share their philosophy of wealth creation.