Since when is the label “savage” a positive one? There is a disconcerting absence of civility, even basic humanity, in our social media interaction, and it is doing untold damage.
Social media has succeeded in making people think their actions, filtered through a screen, has no effect on the other person. For some, it is just social media. They hide behind the screen, which gives them a certain degree of anonymity. Screen to screen, they find the “courage” to say words they would never say to someone face to face
When the news that a young Nigerian poet, Chukwuemeka Akachi, had committed suicide hit social media, the reaction, though mixed, also showed that many people do not understand how serious mental health issues are. After an earlier post, in which Akachi had talked about committing suicide, someone commented that he should die; at least then she would get to eat rice. This was followed by a laughing emoji.
When words arrive on a screen, it does not mean that the person at the receiving end does not feel the full impact of the hurt or love, or whatever emotion is directed at them. At a time when the discussion around mental health is becoming more open, there is unfortunately still an insensitivity that comes with it. An example of this occurred in July 2018, when well-known Nigerian blogger Linda Ikeji shared the Facebook post of a Nigerian poet who talked about his struggles with mental health. Ikeji titled her post “Gay Nigerian poet” and shared the location and the face of the poet involved on her blog. The poet had made no reference to his sexuality in his Facebook post.
By Socrates Mbamalu