(A REFLECTION ON THE TEMPORARY SHUTDOWN OF INTERNET/SOCIAL MEDIA SIGNALS)
It is quite natural for us to hold different worldview about the just ended social media hiatus we experienced, say about 8hours ago or so on October 4th, 2021.
However, regardless of whatsoever perspective we have so settled to view the situation from, the undeniable truth that experience has left us with is to be wary of the power of POWER. You heard that right.
For me, after frustrating attempts at getting some very important time-bound tasks (dependent on accessing internet/social media services) executed within the possible targeted time, I had no option than calming my nerves.
Yes, I needed to do just that after I had repeatedly swapped telecommunications networks available to me and intermittently rebooted my device almost every five minutes yielded no positive results.
Although maddened by the experience, I had to take a deep breath, paused and pondered deeply on the reality of POWER – its true meaning, value and such a powerful tool it is in the hands of those who really and truly have it.
In my reflections, I thought deeply about the positives and the negatives, the experience had unfurled to me.
Starting with the positives, I envied the telecommunications network giants (that I had initially and wrongly blamed all my frustrations of the moment on) for the indispensability of the service they offer in this age.
Not that I was accusing them of what they are incapable of doing anyways. After all, in this country, as their customers, despite repeated incidences of telecommunications companies frequently flouting Consumers Protection Rights with brazen impunity, we’ve had no option than yielding to the term espoused in media law as ‘Marriage of Convenience’. (A situation one stays in a relationship not because of love, but because of what they want from the other partner that they’re yet to devise a means of getting it should they call it quit).
Still in my reflections, I envied social media czar, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame and his co-travellers for such powers they wield so much so, that they can hold netizens to ransom at will and they (netizens) can’t even pretend behaving as though they can do without this ‘their social media’. If that’s not POWER, then tell me what it is.
Just imagine for a moment how influential, rich and important you could be if your brand renders services that your clients or customers would feel suffocated the moment they can’t get the services you render for just a few minutes or hours you temporarily ‘close shop’.
That’s the major positive, I’ve drawn from the frustrating experience of the about 8hour-long social media hiatus. And I wish we all build whatsoever we consider as our brands to attain such level of indispensability. That’s POWER that many don’t have.
Going to the negatives, the experience also forced me into deep reflections on the duty we have as citizens to always stand up to tyrants and men/women within the corridors of power who constantly attempt to gag and suffocate us with archaic, obnoxious and despotic decrees and policies that threaten an freedom. I mean freedom of expression and freedom to hold divergent views.
For a moment, I pondered and wondered if the inability to access internet/social media service was manipulated by men in power to keep citizens and netizens in the dark of the increasingly fragile, unpredictable and unsafe security atmosphere in the country perpetrated by people the government at the center prefer we refer to them as bandits not terrorists, while the oga at the top describes their co-travellers who come in from outside the bother to strike as his second cousins that should be protected.
Or, does that not look what the ‘Liars’ of this world who rode to power on hate speech, falsehood and deliberate mischief, but suddenly started suffering from the mirror effect the moment he eventually got into power trying so hard to hunt down both citizens and broadcast stations who have not done nothing close to a jot of what he did few years ago when he was not in government?
In my deepest moment of reflections, my mind wandered to countries in the world like North Korea and the likes that deny her citizens access to social media platform and open internet services.
I feared for what our fate would be should we wake up one day to discover that we have been booted out from accessing the net. This looks like such power that the caliber of leaders we have in our clime would want to wield.
Therefore, away from the frustrating seizure of access to social media platforms and internet services, we experienced on the later part of October 4th, 2021 globally, we in Nigeria should see that as wake up call to always arise in unison against any attempt by any tyrant, intolerant government official or anyone for that matter trying to take away POWER from us by denying us freedom of expression or access to air our views.
From the 8hour-long experience, you may agree with me that it is best imagining being blocked from accessing the web than experience it.
Freedom is power and being free is one POWER we should never surrender to men in the corridors of power regardless of our political convictions, affiliation and interest.
Opinion by Augustine Akpan