Well this is random. When a prominent media personality in the name of Kiss 100 breakfast show host Caroline Mutoko went overboard in her description of social media users in Kenya as numbskulls and what have you, we were the first to throw tantrums at her and totally criticize her for her misgivings about the hundreds of thousands of Kenyans on Twitter and the few millions on Facebook. With each passing day, I become more and more convinced that even though she was wrong to judge the whole social media community in Kenya, she was absolutely right to point out the evils that bedevil the social media atmosphere in Kenya, particularly hate speech. Yes, hate speech. Hate speech on social media. The one that Mzalendo Kibunja and all those other people we don’t see who work with him at the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, talk about all the time. Social media and responsibility are two bells that need to be rung right from the time you finish reading this post henceforth.
As a man, to love football is a law and a command that is not written in any constitution or enacted in any Act of Parliament but strictly adhered to. It is this same love of football or soccer as the Americans call it that will lead to the downfall of this nation if we are not careful. Why? Incidents on the pitch have recently led to a lot of vitriol and unwarranted exchanges on social media platforms for some time now. Take a closer look at the happenings of yesterday when the local derby pitching fierce historical rivals AFC Leopards aka Ingwe and Gor Mahia FC aka K’Ogalo. I won’t explain what transpired in the match because my unpatriotic self was more interested in the Manchester United v Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves) clash which started as the local derby was about to end. Read the Daily Nation’s coverage of the sad happenings here. The match eventually ended after the on-pitch drama, call it the offline drama. What followed was an outpouring of tribal tweets on my Twitter timeline. These were mainly retweets originating from people I’ve never followed and a few from some of my own followers. This is exactly where the problem is!
Instead of using all tools of Web 2.0 like blogs, micro-blogs, online forums and social networks to promote peace, brotherly existence and national cohesion, here we were, trading accusations left, right and center. How a few hundred hooligans and stone throwers who specialize in violence could be linked to a whole community I don’t know. Why some otherwise intelligent men and women will take out their expensive BlackBerrys, Android smartphones and the like to tweet tribal messages is still unclear to me. Yet for the major part, there was that crowd that kept on preaching peace, it is such folks that we need on social media. We are all Kenyans before anything else. Yes we have our roots as I am always reminded but remember those very roots are watered by our sense of nationhood and peaceful coexistence.
Let’s not forget my fellow brothers, sisters and countrymen that the success of this nation in this information age is squarely dependent on what you key in using that keyboard or keypad, QWERTY or not. If it is hate that we resort to after a few mistakes on the field of play then 2012, 2013 or whenever that forthcoming general election is slated, will find us still with the hangovers of 2007/08 and ready to drink some more. With the increased usage of social media there should great caution and foresight on our side as users. If an individual who knows how to use all those great apps on an iPhone can tweet that then what about that village lay-about who knows nothing about resolute dispute resolution or tolerance than a machete and arsonist tactics? It starts with us on social media, the buck stops with us.
Have a hate-free week.