Social media networks are meant to be platforms that support interactions and initiate changes in communication between/or among individuals, groups, and organizations. Benefits of social media networks abound. Wikipedia has shown that “in the year 2012 social media became one of the most powerful sources for news updates through platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.” But the sagas we have seen in recent months through the social media network- Facebook in Nigeria are reasons that should make us reconsider our perception of these things called social media networks. The younger generation has a total different view of what social networking is meant to be given the incidences that have unfolded in recent times.
Recently, a young lady was gruesomely killed by her purported Facebook friends, and just few days ago another similar incident involving a student University of Lagos happened. Involved in all these cases are our youths- the so called future generations. With the proliferation of this ‘insanity’ and the likes on our social media networks what the future of our social networking looks like is far-fetched. Some people have been advising ladies ‘wrongly’ not to chat with people they don’t know on Facebook And some ladies have thought it wise not to accept friend requests from names that don’t ring a bell to them. While some girls have adopted, I-do-not-talk-to-strangers approach. My question to them is, if you don’t talk to strangers then how are you going to make friends?
Frankly, I think we need to define the basic thing, which is the motive inherent in both parties ab initio. Most Nigerian girls have the impression that every guy they meet on social media network is a cash cow and as such are ready to go to any length to ensure that the cow is adequately milked. So they don’t think of anything positively beneficial apart from material benefits when they interact with their purported cash cows. This is why most girls in the present time know their account numbers offhand even when they can’t remember their mobile numbers. This impression goes on to the point that every hello from a guy means he wants friendship, and no friendship from a guy comes without him asking for ‘something.’ For him to get the ‘something’ he must spend a fortune.
Most Nigerian guys have the impression that what happens on social networks ends on social networks. In this case every girl met on, say, Facebook is labeled use-and-dump and in some cases never-take-home-to-mama. This impression transcends to the point that every hello from a girl means the girl is tripping for him and that’s a ‘green light.’ Then guys having formed this impression coupled with their received wisdom that every girl wants their money in exchange for ‘something,’ are willing to go to any length to ensure that their missions are accomplished. This is why you see guys who keep records (in their minds) of how much they have spent on a girl to determine when to demand for the ‘something.’ And girls also keep tracks too to ensure that the guy’s spending is commensurate with the ‘something’ he is asking for.
This is not a time for me to advise ladies to be careful of their interactions with guys on social networks. I think ladies know better. It is a time to call on us to rethink our motives for being on social media networks. There is a lot we can utilize and enrich ourselves positively with from these networks. The level of degeneracy I have witnessed on public discourse on these networks is really alarming. A few months ago I was surfing through World Bank Nigeria Facebook page. A question was raised about a serious development issue and people’s feed-backs were requested. I cringed at the comments I read from Nigerians. That goes to reaffirm my fear over the future of social media networking in Nigeria. If you’re looking for any good feedback on an intended research or policy don’t post it on Facebook because you may be creating a platform for people to market their Brazilian hair or fairly-used-phones or even their black berry pins.
It is also a time to call on us to engage the NASS on our Cyber-crime laws. All Africa reported ANPP’s lamentations on the absence of Cyber-crime laws in Nigeria. We need to call on the NASS to update our Cyber-crime laws to be in consonant with the global practices, especially now we are in era of proliferation of Cyber-crimes It is unfortunate that what the NASS is interested in is censoring social media, especially when it is in negation to their political mandates, rather than outlawing in strict terms cyber-sex, child pornography, identity theft and spamming.
Education is the key to fighting this menace, but it’s unfortunate that yet considerable number of Nigerian population do not understand the inadvertently use of these social media networks, especially Facebook. It is necessary, though not enough, that we advise our ladies (who often fail to heed) to be careful of miscreants on social media networks, but it is satisfactory when we channel efforts to compelling the NASS to do the job we elected them to do. If we keep on advising as a backlash within the social media over these sagas those miscreants (in whatever form they appear) will continue to fill their boots.