The Nigerian social media space is a minefield that requires careful navigation.
But let’s step back a bit.
A teen with speech, language and motor skills development concerns which led to his receiving special education for the earlier part of his life. Development issues and disabilities are not things that are new to us. Perhaps, it is the secrecy and reluctance to share that shrouds it in some sort of mystery.
However, Ryan shared his story with someone who he thought was a friend. All was good and fine until things went south between them both. Then his erstwhile friend turned on him. Using the information that Ryan had shared with him; this “friend” started a campaign that targeted Ryan’s vulnerabilities. He twisted them for the entertainment of himself and friends of like mind. This taunting and cyber bullying continued until Ryan hung himself.
A teenager who had struggled with weight and self-esteem issues in addition to ADD. All that was until she met a boy – Josh – online. Josh acted like he loved everything about her and wanted to be more than friends. Unfortunately, as soon as he had enough of her attention as he needed; Josh turned on her and together with his group of friends, began to write hateful and spiteful posts and comments targeted at Megan.
One day, he wrote “the works would be a better place without you”. Twenty minutes after that message, Megan went upstairs to the closet in her room from where she hung herself. “Josh” was later found out to be Megan’s neighbor Lori Drew; who together with a group of acquaintances, had targeted and bullied Megan to her death.
These are just a couple of the hundreds of cyber-bullying cases that have led to the ultimate death of their targets; ever since the internet was discovered (by Obasanjo). Most times, the victims of cyber bullying suffer depression and low self-esteem because of the venom and volume of words that are thrown at them.
A large number of them actually resort to suicide as a means to escape the labeling; the embarrassment and shame they feel cloaked with, following these virulent attacks.
Now, the most interesting part about cyber bullying?
Worldwide, it is a phenomenon that is common among teenagers. Teenagers and young adults.
Not so among our Nigerian brethren, however, many of whom struggle real hard to ensure that the country is considered is an outlier in worldwide statistics; thereby leading people to believe that perhaps Nigeria is on its own versus the rest of the world.
In the Nigerian social media ecosystem, it is adults who engage in cyber bullying; while their bewildered teenage children sit back and watch and wonder what exactly is going on here. It is adults that follow fellow adults’ social media profiles to screen-grab personal stories that they may share from time to time; then lay in wait for them for a time when they can pull out these intimate details of people who have either taken them into confidence at some point in time; or shared their stories with the intention of encouraging others or enjoying some sort of therapeutic relief from unburdening – and fling these stories back in the victim’s faces in a way that is calculated to hurt.
It is adults in Nigeria who need to be supervised, monitored and educated on how to use social media in a mature way by their teenagers.
An adult in Nigeria would make a post, targeting the vulnerabilities and disabilities of others; then end it with a wish that through their “rantings”, they can drive others to self-harm and/or suicide.
Interestingly, rather than apply the brakes, other adults would gather round this obviously sick individual; then proceed to egg the person on with “more more”.
“Give us vawulence. This is the vawulence we subscribed for. This is why we love you ma’ami. You are our kinging queen, ma’ami. No one like you.”
And while this bully slashes into people left, right and center – each time reaching for the core; hoping for gore and blood; wishing that one day, she would be the proud and unseen arm handing the noose to another adult on social media whose only sin was to have shared a personal story with others, and then dared to have a contrary opinion to this bully; flying monkeys continue to massage the bully’s ego.
“They hate you, ma’ami.”
“It can only be envy, ma’ami.”
“Ignore them ma’ami and use your English to show them pepper. One woman squad”.
Well, this is dedicated to all the social media bullies and online specialist staggers in Nigeria. The ones that would make up stories to a select band of itching ears about their perceived social media enemies. The ones who have an opinion about any and everybody. But on whom no one dares hold an opinion – and their enablers.
The behavior you engage in that makes you puff your chest and imagine yourself the unchallenged untamed dragon of social media Naija is actually considered deviant teenage behavior by people in the world. This behavior you endorse, enable and justify is considered a psychological and mental disorder. Also, those who display it are not crowned “one woman mopol squad” in serious countries. No.
Rather, they are seen as psychopaths and sociopaths who need urgent intervention before they harm themselves and/or others.
The ones who also enable this behavior are considered bent in some way.
There is no teaching adults how to conduct themselves on social media. If you don’t already have a faint idea of how to behave in public and you are well into adulthood; it is a pity. But your behavior is almost certainly cast in iron and there is nothing that can be done about your behavior; other than, of course, to invoke the Nigerian Anti-Cyber Bullying laws, and see whether any reprieve can be had from them.
Fair warning though to those who enable cyber bullying. You could find yourself being joined in a suit quicker than you can whistle the Nigerian pledge.
All over the world, people unite against bullies.
On Nigerian social media, however, bullies are crowned kings and queens and their victims are labeled “haters”.