The Communication industry has grown steadily and faster. Gone are the days one had to keep vigil by a phone to receive a phone call or make one or worse still travel miles on terrible roads from one village to another or even sometimes one city to another to post a letter. Families and neighbours crowded over one radio or TV set to catch up on the day’s news or watch a favourite movie or football match. Because of the stress and expenses involved in passing on information those days, these mediums of communication were used judiciously and prudently.
Today, all that is in the past; within a micro-second one can pass on information without having to think of how fast, easy and far it had gone.
Nearly 80% of the world’s population hangs on social media today; it is easy, it is fast, somewhat safe and above all cheaper. Social Media, just like other mediums of communication is primarily meant for sending, receiving information and for entertainment.
Social Media and other forms of communication are tools for nation-building; it has a huge impact on the individual, family, relationship and society at large.
One distinguishing feature, besides the laws and regulations of communication, is how prudence is applied in its usage; the amount of time we hang on it, the kind of things we post and the things we say.
Many users of social media today, do not care about what they post, how they post it, when they post it and whom they post about. All that matters is to post whatever comes to mind.
Whether it tarnishes someone’s hard-earned reputation or not is inconsequential.
Communication today is not only viewed as a medium and tool for nation-building but for nation disturbance, destruction and destroying people’s reputations. Strange enough, it is on social media people seek revenge, try to show relevance, display wealth and power, threaten others, put out one sided-stories about others and put out nudity in the name of beauty and fashion.
It is also through social media one can vehemently allude to the fact that moral decadence in this country is at its peak. It is on social media you realize Religion and the fear of God is just skin deep. Going to church, mosque or even calling Ghana as a religious country is only a cover-up. It is on social media, we sit behind our curtains, our comfort zones and insult one another, drag personal and deep-seated issues and secretes between two people to the limelight, peddle lies about one another, insult adults (as far as the president of the republic) and the other way round. The least anger one gets, he or she is storming to social media (to let everyone know how guilty his or her opponent is).
Issues that can be amicably resolved between two people or parties are thrown open on social media.
No more respect or regard for the dignity of the human person. The annoying and shameful part of these behaviours is that the issues discussed on these mediums are mostly personal and emotional. There is no longer any line drawn between public issues and private or personal; when the reputation of the other is involved.
Some politicians, the so-called “celebrities (especially the half-naked celebrities), journalists and pastors are the worst offenders of social media manners.
On the political side, you hear both young and adult politicians taking to social media to have it out at each other publicly over disagreements. Meanwhile, the same person will go home and ask his subordinates or children to respect him or her. Being a politician does not give you the yardstick to insult others. This, certainly, is not one of the trademarks of politics but rather respect for one another views and opinions. Being in the opposition or being in the incumbent does not warrant insults. It is becoming an eye-saw. Make your point without using offensive or hurtful words and you would still be making sense.
Celebrities or “Celebs” as they are now affectionately called these days, have the biggest stage to influence people’s lives especially young people. Unfortunately, what is seen is the opposite. Some show up with nudity and claim that is an expression of freedom, beauty and fashion.
The truth is, “the other end of freedom is, portraying a responsible lifestyle”. Some celebrities’ reckless dressing shown on social media is now the order of the day, especially some of the female celebrities.
If people in every industry should show up with personal issues and relationship wrangling on social media, who would pay attention to others. Definitely social should be the last place to settle a score with another person; it certainly does not show respect.
Settling your score in public only places value on one’s emotion (mostly anger) over the human person, who is also created in the image and likeness of God. The human person is much more than an anger one vents in a public space (sometimes just to get even).
Believe it or not, freedom has a limit and its limitedness is in living a responsible lifestyle. That is why it is said, “Freedom walks with responsibility. Where your freedom ends that is where someone’s begins”.
What celebs turn to forget quite often is that their lifestyle is catching up seriously on most young people, who dress seductively, speak rudely and hang-on on social media all day long to catch up on how others are trending on unruly behaviours.
Sad to add that today, social media plays a very large role in moulding children than parents are expected to do; parents, schools and churches play a very limited role in the upbringing of children today.
As the saying goes, “if you can’t fight them you join them” It will interest you to know that most parents today have given up; they have joined in dressing suggestively, using vulgar words, disrespecting one another in front of kids and endorsing their wayward lifestyle with their complements or silence.
The other group of people who also taint and cause fear and panic in society are journalists. It is always self-rewarding and quite exciting to be the first person to come out with a news item or story about an event, incident or particularly about a person or group of people.
However, nearly 80% of the stories or write-ups about such incidents are often one-sided truths or lies (miss quoted or half quoted truths). Most journalists are only interested in coming out with a particular story first without giving it time to know the truth.
Some are also judgmental in their reportage, without first gathering or cross-checking their facts. Some of the stories presented in the media are defamatory and half-truths, which cause fear and panic in society. Most times, people’s image and reputation are tarnished before the truth crawls out. On the other hand, when the truth is realized no apologies are rendered on the same medium and if at all, not with the same vim or passion with which those lies were reported. Journalism is a perfect platform to influence society positively and contribute to nation-building.
However, if care if not taken, it will cause a national disaster.
Finally, some Pastors or “Social Media Preachers” as they are sometimes referred to capitalize on this medium to give false prophecies and scare people with their fake interpretations of dreams.
Being a pastor or running a church today is very lucrative. It is no longer a call from God, where one is to sacrifice one’s life in bringing God’s message for the repentance of souls but a business to “sell their christ”.
Sometimes, one marvels at the number of gifts of the Holy Spirit invested in one particular pastor. It is on social media nearly every pastor wants to outdo the other with the number of gifts one has; it is on social media that pastors or prophets demonstrate how powerful they are by flouting their wealth and ignorance.
Sometimes these attitudes are clear indications that these “Men and women of God have “Showly Spirits” (show off) and certainly not the Holy Spirit. These men and women of God need to be sanitized by a proper body and system in the country. It is happening in some countries and at least there is a bit of sanity now
Yes! It is true that “the truth is the truth regardless of the speaker”. Coming out on any platform, be it social media or any other forum to speak the truth as many claim, it’s a virtue that should be encouraged by everyone.
Nevertheless, exercising prudence in speaking the truth is key and important; once emotions lead the way, the truth becomes obscure and bitterness turns to leads the way. Regardless of who is speaking the truth must be weighed on: the where, the when and the how this truth will be sent out. This is not compromising the truth or giving it a different name but being prudent with the truth.
For crying out loud, there are innocent children reading, listening and watching these ruthless lifestyles, nude pictures, defaming one another’s character, messing up with people’s hard-earned reputation, all because of anger and one sided-stories of individual sexual relationship issues that are poured out on social media.
When you started dating or seeing each other, no one heard about it, when it turns sour or bad, then everyone must hear you out. This certainly is not fair. For instance, if someone had raped you, go to the police and report and let them deal with it, why sing about it on social media as if everyone is involved.
Are you looking for public sympathy? If you cannot deal with a particular relationship issue, you would be better off visiting a psychiatrist or a psychologist and not propounding defamatory stories on social media. The one million dollar question is, don’t you care about what your children and grandchildren will grow up and see about you on social media tomorrow? Hope youthful exuberance and free data is not luring you into all these.
These kinds of behaviours on social media do not build a nation, it will soon destroy the country. It has started destroying individuals, families and of course other parts of our society. If care and some restraints are not taken by the government through the Ministry of Communication, the country would be plunged into serious trouble.
As much as Social media has come to make communication more fluid, it seems to be taking over every aspect of people’s lives and that of the entire nation. Social media puts us far from those close to us and rather nearer to those far from us. Control social media and don’t allow social media to control you. Be careful what you watch and post on social media, otherwise social media will soon post and watch you when you least expected.
Source: Nicholas Nibetol Aazine, SVD
(Coordinator for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, Ghana-Liberia Province)
Divine Word Missionaries: A Catholic Missionary Society Serving God through Humanity
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