The gloves are off and the fangs are out. Caution has been flung to the wind and we have arrived at a time when people have no care for the sensitivity of others. You’ll have to be living under an escarpment to miss this trend. As the 2019 elections draw closer, supporters of political parties have grown more desperate to see that their opponents do not gain the upper hand in the jostle for the approval of the electorate. A mash-up of this with the growing discourteous tendencies of young people is snowballing into a society where respect and civility are going extinct.
You only need to take a stroll through the streets of social media to see humans take on the toga of barbarians; brothers turn against brothers and relatives rat themselves on the altar of varying political alliances. The not-so-good news is that things are about to get worse. Tempers will continue to flare and if you thought people couldn’t possibly be more uncouth or loutish, you are wrong.
It can be tiring—the fake news, the mudslinging, the tweet fights, the finger pointing, and the insults—are bound to wear any peace-loving individual out. It’s why it’s paramount that you do all within you to not be fazed or frazzled by the cacophony of opinions jostling to be heard on offline and online spaces.
In the light of this, here a few measures you can take to ensure you do not get caught in the fray of angry political jobbers and savages who have no scruples making the cyberspace (in particular) uninhabitable for others:
Stay in your lane: You probably have your own viewpoint about the state of the country as well as who should and who should not be president. You may be miffed about the pervasive selfishness of folks who are sold to colouring the truth as opposed to being concerned about the deal Nigerians are getting. And while you are entitled to have your say through any medium, you may want to jettison the idea. This has little to do with cowardice, rather it’s a suggestion premised on the fact that only a few people possess the maturity to entertain differing opinions. In this era of unfettered savagery, your attempt to air your views may be met with scorn. Want peace? Keep your views to yourself.
If you must engage, do so with people of like minds: Discourse should be about sharing perspectives with the hope of learning, relearning and unlearning. In the process of exchanging opinions on happenings within the polity, we gain new knowledge and insights and are able to appreciate others and the way they reason even if we do not necessarily agree with their stance. It’s how cultured people relate—they spar—without hostility. An attempt to entertain all and sundry in a debate will only expose you to possible ridicule. You don’t want any Sule, Tayo and Chima hurling slurs at you because they are bereft of the brainpower required to comprehend your line of thought.
Do not open a Twitter account: Refrain from opening a Twitter account if you don’t already one, and if you do, you may want to re-evaluate your activity there. Did you say “Why?”. The volatility the platform tends to erupt into is not for the faint-hearted. Generally, news and controversies are magnified on social media, however, Twitter is in a class of its own when it comes to exacerbating issues. You just might be denigrated for something as harmless as sneezing. Relationships have been broken, families torn to shreds and even suicides have occurred because of a careless tweet. Except you are prepared to painstakingly choose what appears on your feed and the characters you follow, you may find yourself reeling from the level of bickering and hate that has become a staple of the community.
Be apolitical: The ones who have the most peace in these times are those who aren’t affiliated with any political party. They are desirous of good governance and stand on the side of truth but do not actively support any political aspirant because they are jaded and wary of making the wrong choice; either that or they are just too detached to care. Apolitical folks are amused by all the squabbling going on; they are also at little risk of drawing snide remarks from the rampaging “children of anger”.
Ignore political broadcasts on Whatsapp: Forwarded messages on Whatsapp are the devil. It’s advisable to disregard broadcasts on the platform except you are certain of its source and veracity. Whatsapp has become infamous for fake news; a consequence of its ease of accessibility. You need to guard your space in order to keep your sanity and save your yourself from documented insults political opponents target at one another.
As the benchmark for respect gets lower by the day, it’s important that those who still cherish their self-respect protect their space and guard their interactions. It’s the way to retain self-pride and credibility.