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Life is Life, Online or Offline.

30 August 2012, 10:30

It is almost cliché to point out the fact that where there resides a pro also lives a con. Opposites are a fact of nature. It is a fact that cannot be under-emphasised. As in examinations and as in anything else, every man-made invention comes attended with merits and demerits whose safety and user-friendliness falls back to the user’s diligence. It is one reason why products come with ‘Terms and Conditions’, as well as ‘Disclaimers’.

In no other aspect of modern life is this truer than in that most revolutionary form of communication- social media. Non-social media users like my parents have at their finger-tips social media related anecdotes which most times are uproariously hilarious. One such anecdote is from the early days of the internet in Nigeria where a young, Nigerian girl in her 20s after months of Instant Messaging, on Yahoo! Messenger, with an American ended up married to a middle-aged, overweight and twice divorced man.

It, usually, is no surprise to see, in the dailies, pictures captioned ‘Could this be Love?’ of young Nigerian men in wedding finery locked in embrace with white women who at first sight would have been mistaken for their grand-mothers. Whatever social or socio-economic reasons for this and other instances would be the focus of a future article.

It would be preposterous to call social media a microcosm of real life. Social media though peopled, in large majority, by those of the lower demographic spectrum has real life mores, opinions, prejudices and perspectives more than fully represented. It is therefore no surprise to find fraudsters, tricksters and, who knows, ritualists as well plying their trade and expertise on social media.

Suicides resulting from rows and embarrassing exposure of nude pictures by disgruntled exes, on social media, is not news anymore. A female university undergraduate who was gang-raped and had the video posted online by its perpetrators is an example of the downside to the widespread fecundity of social media as a fact of modern life and a force for good. Cynthia Osokogu whose story, fate and death (though details are sketchy) have been headlining the dailies for the last few days is another instance of a demerit brought to the limelight.

Despite the examples above, it is undeniable, that here in Nigeria, meaningful relationships are being forged via social media asides the romantic. News articles and opinion pieces are ever present while I should not forget to point out its use as a rallying point for political activism with the ‘Subsidy and Occupy Nigeria movement’ as a case in point. It, also, is not strange to see football enthusiasts battling out in the most creative ways on their twitter timelines and facebook comment sections. Intellectual and literary discourse, music and media promotion, as well as life-saving interventions, as illustrated by the #SaveFunmi and #SaveOke twitter hashtags which were used as tools to raise crowd-sourced funds for the medical bills of Funmi and Oke respectively, are prime examples of social media at its best. The total funds raised ran into millions of naira.

Social media is here to stay. As in life, you also have to watch your back, protect your privacy, take precautions and be, at least, responsible.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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