By Henry Olamiju
“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.” ~ Samuel Ullman
“Every youth owes it to himself and to the world to make the most possible out of the stuff that is in him” ~ Orison Swett Marden…
There are many things young people can learn from the elders. But youth is often a difficult time. The world has been and is still being shaped by young people of all walks of life. Advances in technology and particularly the way the world interacts with itself have seen great inputs by young people working from sheds, college dormitories, old garages etc.
Here in Nigeria, young people have fast caught on to the happenings around the world. Facebook and twitter have particularly enjoyed wide usage in Nigeria. There was however a tipping point in social media interconnectivity in world when young people all over Egypt organised themselves through Facebook to cause cross the threshold for the Arab Spring. We also saw the widespread looting and destruction of property that occurred in UK which was also seen to have been planned using social media.
Last year, Nigerian youths were called out into a rally that was born by a conglomeration of elements on Twitter, the civil society and organised labour. Since then, the spate at which activists have sprung up in Nigeria’s blogosphere has attained alarming levels. There’s rarely a day my timeline on Twitter that does not have slurs on the person of a political officer holder in Nigeria.
It is the latest fad on the block.
I often wonder if there’s a price for the person that can castigate public office holders the most. These insults, slurs and castigations now no know no bounds. There are no sacred cows. Anybody and anything can be object of abuse.
Should people keep quiet at injustices? By all means NO! Should we speak up at perceived wrongs that threaten the individual rights of citizens of Nigeria? Most definitely. Can these confrontations be moderate without demeaning the public offices while trying to castigate the office holders? The answer is yes.
I’ve seen a lot of articles that are no different from the sensational journalism being practiced by some newspaper companies who want to sell their papers. Every move by the Nigerian government or its officials is viewed through a glass prism of cynicism and scrutinized under the lens of pessimism.
I think many young people nowadays think that because they can air their views on social media means that they’ve got a pride of place like Uncle Tunde Fagbenle has in Punch Newspaper or
my favorite ‘Area-Father’: Uncle Dele Sobowale does in the Vanguard Newspaper.
In a field now overtaken by charlatans and lacking organised guidelines for ethical conduct, it is actually harder to make a mark now as a writer, social activist, journalist etc by being constantly online and possessing a handle or even going ahead to own a blog. How many people were writing poems and novels in Nigeria with the aim of publishing them during the times Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe made their marks on the world stage? Not many. How many people are writing today? Thousands!
The key to influence and relevance in a society is not in doing what everybody else is doing because everybody is doing it. The key is in finding something that resonates with one’s heart and helping to solve a problem.
Young people in Nigeria should not waste their time and efforts in trying to join social media bandwagons or form ‘voltrons’ as they say on twitter. Getting out there and getting the hands dirty and placing boots on the field is what is going to give birth to a viable nation of creatives. Creatives in all areas of life: technology, policy, advocacy, health, finance, consultancy, art, literature etc are what Nigeria needs. Can anyone point at a thriving nation in the world today, or even in the past, that was BUILT by their governments? Not one. The nations that tried it in the form of communism, where are they today? Nations become great by the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of its people while the government provides security and the enabling environment for multiplication.
Hurling massive insults at under-performing officials from Twitter would make one a Gani Fawehinmi as much as dutifully keeping a diary will make one an award-winning author; and then constantly scrutinizing all the government’s actions from Facebook make one the next Martin Luther-King as much as counting and stacking money at a bank will make one a millionaire.
As much as I like the environment granted us by social media, I would not want to be part of what may in years to come be called the “Twitter Generation”. I would rather be part of a “Glove, Boot and Tool Generation”. My generation should refused to be described in its entirety by a social creation of an American (or Chinese or German or whatever other nationality) school boy but adopt principles and practices that bring real changes that affect our society and are appropriate for our sustenance and necessary for our transformation into a better society.