History has enthroned humanity with abundant platform range in its evolutionary track. Today, the most preeminent of these evolutionary features is Information and Communications Technology. This has exalted information messaging as an innovative model and impactful form of storytelling, communication, and knowledge dissemination.
Those accomplishments have now been elevated through a rare infrastructure now branded as digital platform; submerging and disrupting old methods of human relations, trade, commerce, education, health, expression, and communication etc.
All these have now been bundled into a new way of knowledge construct, dissemination, economy, and governance, acknowledged as digital transformation way of life. Meanwhile, this phenomenon is currently championed by social media platforms. The predominant players are the youth – who without mincing words, branded themselves as Millennial – thanks to the platform revolution.
This trend is in recognition that anything that can be digitized would consequently be digitized.
Platforms are gradually becoming the main drivers of the global digital economy. They are contributing a significant number to various segments of global employment and rightfully classified as the platform economy. It is worthy of note that the bulk of the Millennial today virtually live their lives on digital platforms. This attitude, apart from re-organising the global Big Data information system influenced by embedded misinformation, disinformation, and discriminatory hate speeches; has significantly transformed global production, trade, commerce, governance, consumption patterns as well as the nature and future of work.
Therefore, it is reasonable to uphold that social media has significantly helped to reshape human behaviours; grow the world market ecosystem and changed consumers’ preference in the choices they make; especially when compared to their engagement on search engines. It further validates the notion that majority of the Millennial, have without regulations, adopted the free world of social media platforms for finding numerous shades of information and data for their decisions.
According to reliable studies, the first social media platform was established in 1977 (looks like yesterday!). It was named Six Degrees’ and recognized as the first social media platform ever. Regrettably, Six Degrees only lasted for four (4) years -until 2001. This social media experience was followed by MySpace in the year early 2000.
MySpace disrupted the social media platform experience with innovative features, introducing pictures and colours to the administration of users. Sadly, MySpace became unsustainable, while LinkedIn came onboard as a social network; focusing on business professionals and continues to wax stronger today.
Social Media platform continued its disruptive momentum with the emergence of Facebook in 2004. Twitter was officially released to the public in 2006 and the rest is history. Lessons learned show that human ideas, creativity, and innovation are infinitive, unstoppable and know no bounds. According to Lee Kuan Yew, everything is possible – especially if we follow the Rainbow.
Social Media and the future of Africa’s digital space qualifies to be classified as the good, the bad and the ugly! Africa is gradually becoming the target marketing space for social media platforms; primarily due to her innocent techno-mindset, the demography of her youthful population and as an emerging digital economy.
However, the greatest concern is that, it may ultimately lead to an endangered empire of digital consumerism for external products; accelerate deformed creativity, knowledge, innovation and derail constructive national development.
The emerging social media culture clash for developing nations can destroy the zeal to strategically develop indigenous knowledge-ware and its related digital intellectual property for wealth creation and national security.
Furthermore, there is a brave new culture communication world out there amongst our youth; one that is, against all odds, the murderous intent to bury the English language grammatically and its universal content and meaning. This wholesale non-normative culture is becoming an omnipotent confusion in the critical relationship between teachers and students; parents and their children and the family unit.
It seems that the former understanding mode of the head and blink of the eye between the old and emerging generations have fallen apart. Indeed, the centre can no longer hold. There is, therefore, an urgent need for national conversation as strategic response to this troubling and empirical subject.
This becomes an imperative, especially, when available records inform that the power of social networking is such that the number of worldwide users is expected to reach some 3.02 billion active social media users monthly by the end of 2021. That makes-up about one third of the global population! It is estimated that 50.64% of the 7.77 billion people in the world use social media. The mountains of real-time Big Data generated by global platforms per nanosecond is not only amazing; but equipped with infectious ability to hold the consumers and/or nations perpetual hostage. This concern is validated by the wave of Ransomware activities around the world.
With the above statistics, the ownership and control of the platform has become deeply critical; with the potential and abilities to somersault national development where and when necessary. You can imagine the vulnerability of developing nations who are predominantly users of unregulated digital space.
Meanwhile, it is worthy of note that the conversation has indeed already commenced as follows: “The social media is the most potent weapon for good and for evil. While we welcome the good, we must prepare over the evil. You cannot use the idea of free speech to destroy me. Most democracies in the world today are making efforts to regulate the social media and the National Assembly has been considering regulating the social media for long.
‘‘But each time the issue comes up, Nigerians kick against it. It is something we need to do because we have a responsibility to protect every single citizen in this country and that is what we must do,” stated Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Well said, but we must remember and advise that man does not live by bread alone.
Going forward, a Town Hall approach is required as an enduring mechanism and recommended. There is a need to factor the essential variables that requires thinking without the box. This is in view of the elusive fact that by 2050; Nigeria will have a population of 400+ million people to govern amidst fierce global competitiveness and national security issues; as she marches through the dense forests and infested oceans of digital transformation.
A stich in time warns: ‘There can be no meaningful technology development without purposeful research. Facilitate the creation and ownership of your/Africa’s digital Platform and IP Army – NOW!