One of the biggest tragedies resulting from this era of technological advances, of social media in particular, is the humanness that is fast eroding in the hands of a mindless human civilisation. Just a month ago, I was imploring people that should I meet my death in a horrific accident, my family at least be accorded the respect of being informed properly, rather than having to find out on social media as so many people have found out about their own loved ones. It has become fashionable, and the immoral have even gone as far as to defend, the tendency of people to post rest in peace messages on walls of deceased persons before families are even properly informed. How anyone worthy of being regarded as truly human can find it excusable that someone’s child or parents saw via Facebook that their loved one has departed continues to haunt and disturb me. Clearly, the empathy that I’ve always believed inherent in people is something foreign to some among us. Now the first aid is to take a snapshot, upload it on Instagram and call the police.
This lack of empathy extends to the way in which automobile accidents in particular have become subjects of casual conversation, to a point where people don’t even blink twice when splashing photos of gruesome accidents on social networks, regardless of who sees them, regardless of the fact that the pain is too raw for those who, because we choose to be mindless, must navigate the pain of losing a loved one while having photographic reminders of how the loved one was lost, etched in the galleries of their memory. It’s like being raped, and days within the ordeal, at your most fragile, you see your tormentor on every television channel that you flick through.
Such is the reality of an era where anyone with a phone that has a camera can arrogate themselves the title of “journalist”. That this is divorced from ethics that define the discipline becomes irrelevant in a society where people are chasing sensationalism above truth, and relevance above responsibility. The era of citizen journalism is truly upon humankind, and I shudder to imagine what it will leave in its wake.
There has been nude photos always leaked by jilted lovers and “ogres” .Apparently, the young women’s nude photos were uploaded by an angry ex-lover. That humanity is capable of such vengeance is mind-numbing. The argument that I’ve always held is that there’s fundamentally nothing wrong with sending nude photographs to a lover. In fact, there is nothing wrong in shooting a sex tape with your lover. Most people who are opposed to this pose as justification for their position the fact that there’s a possibility that you could break up with your partner and if that were to happen, you risk having your photos used in a manner that the ex has done. While it might sound reasonable, something about this argument disturbs me deeply.
It is an argument rooted in the vulgarisation of mature adult relationships and above all, love. It is an argument that exposes how a technological world has instilled fear in how human beings relate to one another and how we imprison our sexuality and love. What kind of relationships are we building that rest on a foundation of such deep seated paranoia and fear? We have basically arrived at a point where we cannot be spontaneous and truly liberated in our adult relationships, for fear of the weapon of technology being fashioned against us once things don’t work out with our loved ones.
Two adults in a mature relationship must be allowed to explore and celebrate their sexuality in whatever manner they deem appropriate for themselves – one they feel comfortable with. The expectation of a mature relationship is that both parties have equal dedication to making it work, albeit with the understanding that should it not (because there’s no guarantee that any relationship will work), the two part. Even when the split is not amicable, there is a level of respect and responsibility that each partner must accord the other – if not for anything else, for what the relationship once meant to them.
So when one party, following a break-up, decides to splash naked photos of the other on social media, with the sole intention being to humiliate and ridicule, then two things are clear. Firstly, it is that the perpetrator of such an action is infantile and mindless. And secondly, it is that social media is a platform that enables this puerile behaviour and mindlessness to fester like a sore, and then explode. In that explosion, the worst elements find expression. The bigotry and chauvinism with which nude photos of women are viewed permeates. The dismemberment of women (and men) is given legitimacy. All kinds of vulgar elements of society become a blanket beneath which conversations are constructed.
I can think of many abuses and manipulations of social media. The abuse of organisational discipline by members of political parties who use the platform to deepen factionalism and sow seeds of division. The abuse of ordinary persons by their detractors. The abuse in general, of humanity itself. It is vicious.
When the march of technology started towards the end of the first millennium, we were all very excited about the endless possibilities that the opening of new worlds would mean to civilisation. But it seems that this march is at the expense of the very things that define our humanness. We have become appendages of the keyboard, devoid of any human empathy and deep levels of reasonability. I can only hope that at some point, we will reclaim this humanness that has resulted in our nonchalance about the pains of others and the paranoia about our most intimate relationships, from families to romantic partners. If not, we will be studied in the post-Holocene era as we too study the Pleistocene era, and be labelled as a civilisation of the mindless and heartless. It shall be a description not too far from the truth.