It is a jolly good day and you wake up to the normal routine of your life. So far everything is going smoothly the way any normal day would, but you don’t like this.
This is because you have programmed yourself to be easily excited by news that involves a lot of drama, and involves people. Now it is as though news have become your personal drugs. You no longer know how to function properly without the excitement of hearing or reading something out of the ordinary.
The day continues quietly, not respecting your wishes for something eventful to happen, and you do not this; your ears are itching for ‘gist’ of any kind, and your system is seeking some kind of thrill, but it seems as though the world is well behaved today, as nobody attempts to do anything that would catch media and social media attention.
You spend the day lagging in bed, and you categorize the day as boring. If anyone asks you at that moment how you’re doing, the first response out of your mouth would be that you are bored, regardless of the many significant things you can use the time to achieve, or the many tasks waiting for you to accomplish.
Still in this state, you read all the news blog and diligently surf all social media applications to see if your country people have done anything stupid again, or if someone’s village people have succeeded in catching them, but with disappointment you see that there is none.
All the stories you read are stale, as you have seen, analyzed and gone through them over and over again in the past, so much that you can recite about ten different versions of the story without flinching.
All the same, because it is social media and it is a jungle in there, you still manage to see a couple of things that you find amusing, and so you lend your voice to these issues in the comment sections as you interact with your brothers and sisters in you people’s mini universe.
There are trending questions circulating the internet and you answer all of them passionately, like you are somehow going to get paid for it.
“Would you slap your ex for ten million naira?” you read out loud
“Hmph, this people don’t know me o, is it only slap that I will slap?” your utter out loud as your fingers begin to strike the keypad immediately, preparing a very witty, savage response, because savagery is the order of the day even when it crosses the line and becomes demeaning.
You read other people’s comments and reply to each of them accordingly because you have all the time in the world at your finger tips
“Do you think it is okay for a girl to propose to a guy?” you read out loud again
“Haaa, which one is this one again? We would not kill somebody in this country ooo” you exclaim
You read through the comments under the question, and you react to each one of them
“The thing about this role reversal act of females proposing that seems to be gradually becoming the order of the day is that men tend to consider it to be very emasculati…”
You hiss, skip, and go to the next comment, wondering what all the seriousness is for. You wonder why people have to bring seriousness into everything, and not just be witty or sarcastic. You are sure they must be miserable in real life
You are still in this condition of searching, when the first real news hits you;
A guy strips naked because his girlfriend of many years broke up with him
You jerk from your bed with speed as your mind processes this
O boooy, see fresh gist
You make more enquiries as you passionately take on the role of a research officer with a level of zeal that you would never find when it is time to do things that are worthwhile
As you take in bits of the story, even before it unfolds completely, you get even more excited because you realize that this naked man isn’t in some far away land. He is so close to you, in your community, and you realize you even know him
With so much zeal to carry out the duties of your office, you begin to repost this news with funny captions to go with it, as the excitement threatens to overwhelm you
You do not know why you are excited or stimulated deeply with this sort of news, but that is just how you are, or so you think, and you are just giving expression to your amusement
In a matter of minutes, this story is trending because of the passionate services that you and your kind render to the young man who stripped naked. You make him a celebrity and an online sensation in hours. No, he shouldn’t bother thanking you; the pleasure is yours.
With every minute that passes, new versions of the story unfold.
Although they terribly contradict themselves as they are heavily strung with lies, with your expertise and experience in olofofo work spanning many years, you find a way to harmonize them with some more lies of your own, and hence create one superb story, that you tell to anybody that asks you what happened
When telling them, you do not remember to tell them this information is unverified and is hearsay, and that you were not even there when it happened, but rather you tell them with so much confidence, with a first person point of view. You even know and tell the events that led up to the climax, because suddenly you were their relationship counselor and you followed their relationship from the start.
Soon you hear there is even a video of the event, and that is where church closes for the day.
In minutes, the video of the young man gets into your phone and after laughing to your fill, you upload it online so that your brothers and sisters from the brotherhood can join in the big happy laughter
Jokes and caricatures are made out of it, memes are created and lies are told, and for every one of these that comes your way, it amuses you even more.
Apparently, the day cannot get any better.
What your incompetent brain now beclouded with a cheap desire for publicity and temporary thrill is unable to relay to you, is how stupid and uncalled for your actions are.
Probably due to ignorance or outright insensitivity to someone’s plight, or a terrible combination of both, your brain is unable to let you know that there is an existence of something called mental health, and the fact that you are not aware of what the young man’s mental health status is, should make you shut up.
You do not realize that the mental condition of a person is not something to satirize, and that mental breakdowns occur, and shouldn’t be treated with disdain as if an abomination has happened.
Simply put, you do not know that mental health isn’t something to joke about, and that anybody’s plight in general isn’t worth making fun over, mental or not mental.
Your brain cannot make you understand that what you have attributed to the workings of his village people all in a desire to have a good laugh over, isn’t at all his village people
Your brain is unable to make you understand that you do not stand to gain anything in deriving joy and entertainment from another person’s dilemma, and that another person’s sad situation isn’t worth creating laughter out of
Your brain doesn’t make you understand that there is a huge possibility that the story might run deeper than what has been revealed to you, and that it’s just terribly unfair for you to pick only one angle and run so vehemently with it
Your lust for news and entertainment regardless of what form it takes shuts you down to the feelings of consideration and empathy that you are supposed to have, as you make remarks like:
“That boy must definitely be stupid! Is he the first person to fall in love?” Because being the shallow person that you are, you choose to only view it from the surface.
To you, all there is to it is a love story gone bad.
And what if that is what it is? Simply a love story gone bad; does it justify the dust you’ve raised just to feed your desire for entertainment?
“There is no excuse anybody should make for him; he is just a very foolish person for stripping naked because a girl broke his heart. Ordinary breaking of heart, and he decided to run mad. He must be foolish”
You do not stop to ask reasonable questions like:
“How deep does this go? Are there past records of similar experiences that has gradually pushed him to his breaking point? What untold stories are hidden from the view of the public?” But you see, all of this is stress; you just want to have a good laugh and fun filled conversations on the matter
Okay, how about you ask questions like
“After his breakdown, when he has recollected himself, is ready to get back to normal living, and just wants to blend right back into the world, what would this news that you have escalated do to him? How would the splashing of his images alongside his nude video and several versions of the story on various social media platforms help or severe his recovery process?
All in all, the only thing you consider is the fact that you need a good laugh.
You know, if I ask the question of “what if such person was your brother, would you have been pleased if the world reacted the way you’re doing?” you would throw stones at me.
So while you’re still having a good time, the too serious people come in to save the day
These ones understand the reality of mental health and accord it with the same relevance as physical health.
They understand that all humans should be respected, and they see your actions for what it really is, a dehumanizing, degrading and terrible thing
They understand that this situation is not one that should be joked with, and so they begin to criticize you and your gang, explaining that it is not right to make jest of a situation like this, and that mental health isn’t something to be joked with
They say that you do not understand what ailed the young man, and so have no right to talk about it in such condescending manner.
They out rightly tell you and your crew to shut up and stop carrying the issue on your head like it is yours
Initially they are in the minority so you hiss and discard their efforts as being overly sensitive and self-righteous, even though a bit of their message stings you, for after all you still have a conscience.
Then gradually they begin to grow in number because the sincerity of their message and the vehemence they preach with begin to pull out their kind who were in their shell, and convert others.
Now you’re ashamed, you feel like a bad person
You hurriedly pull down all the memes and pictures, videos and jokes because you’re gradually becoming the minority, and the playground has been leveled
But as you hiss and turn in your bed in disappointment, you are unhappy with how everything played out.
While you might be remorseful on the outside, you are deeply dissatisfied within, because you see, this thing that turns you on at the thought of trending news is deeply rooted and beyond the repair of a short lived moment of conscience crisis.
While you’re in this state, you check your social media and you see that a new type of news is beginning to make the waves, and while it is not exactly your favorite type, it is still news notwithstanding.
It is supposed to repair the damage that your kind had done earlier, and it enlightens people about the reality of the situation, how mental health shouldn’t be joked with, and how they (the creators of this news) stand with the man who has earlier been stigmatized.
They pledge their support to him, and promise to have his back, and this one starts circulating. You realize it is beginning to get the attention of people, and that tiny little nut in your head unscrews itself, again.
You hop on the moving train, and begin to pledge your own solidarity to the new cause
You pledge to stand behind the man, because that’s what everybody is doing, and it gives you this feeling of belonging, this feeling of being part of what is in vogue, what is trending.
Just like is the normal you, you take the matter on your head. You cry out against all the people who had previously lashed out at the young man, and you use the same lines you were pissed at, asking the world questions like:
“If it was your brother, what would you have done?”
But then that is where the problem arises-
When the supposed damage has been fixed, or when people are beginning to get the message, you still don’t stop because you are ignorant of the purpose of the cause you are fighting for.
You enjoy the attention it gets, and so, with your energy that is misguided and uncalled for, you begin to corrupt the cause, contaminate the fight, and entangle everything.
With your new persistence, you take a survivor, a fighter, and turn him to a victim
People, understand this:
The wars we fight aren’t built on the foundation of societal acceptance and recognition
The wars that matter aren’t fought because of how sophisticated it makes us look
They aren’t fought because we like the way we look like and sound when we use those seemingly sophisticated words like “misogyny, homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, patriarchy, feminism, humanism, xenophobia, sexism, white supremacy, intellectualism, negritude, slut-shaming, body-shaming, anorexia, eating disorder, mental health, bipolar” amongst many others too numerous to outline
The wars we fight aren’t spurred by our desire for thrill, and the excitement of verbal exchanges
In this war, we do not gauge our victory by how much we trend on social media, because we know it runs deeper than that
We do not fight this war simply because we want to be part of the happening pack, or part of the thing that is getting mainstream media attention.
The passion runs deeper than the show we put up in public, and unless you’re willing to tap into this depth, understand the reasons, the long term goals and the bigger picture, keep quiet, sit back in your arm rest and watch us wage this war.
But no matter what you decide to be,
don’t be a poseur
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