Being a millennial as we are fondly called is arguably one of the most important labels of this generation. We have a voice, we air our opinions albeit baseless and uncensored, we demand personalised treatment, brands and businesses do not look at us as a mere demography or segment, we are targets, targeted based on our preference; our individualities lie on the front burner, freedom of speech, right to express oneself, the pursuit of happiness etc.
How did we get here? Technology. Technology introduced us to the world and the world got introduced to us. We are close to those afar off, and simultaneously far from those close by. We scream ‘privacy’ but can hardly wait to show the world or at least our friends and haters how “happy we look”. We have moved from perception management to subtle manipulation without even knowing what it means, selfies and memes are now important points of considerations in our choices.
I love digital technology and social media. You can hit a billion dollar valuation in less than five years just with a laptop, a savvy mind, and yeah that’s it. However, every good thing man has created apparently has a downside. Whilst I can understand that a gun can protect you and kill a few people in a specified amount of time, a tweet, meme, or random post can alter someone’s perspective for good or evil, decades after. Assuming we still have the internet. Now, you can remotely drive change in any direction anonymously.
Africa, Nigeria particularly, enjoys her own rise of populism. Snaps going viral, people becoming overnight sensations literally over the night. These influencers, as we like to call them, hold sway on our opinions; brands use them to drive engagement with us and they equally advance their own agenda. I am all for self-help and self-actualisation or whatever “self thing” that gets us there. But I am equally worried that one day my unborn child would wake up and like the idea of being famous, and the only thing he associates with fame is “bobrisky”, or splurging 11 million bucks in the club.
Now I do not have a problem with these people; I do have a problem with the idea they are intentionally or otherwise proliferating how to be sensational overnight not because of any productive value but because of your nuisance value. You know what I realised about terrorism? It is the easiest way to get attention and be noticed by the authorities. If you are tired of being obscure in Nigeria, I dare you to drive by Walter Carrington in Victoria Island and light up your unused Christmas fireworks, you will make breaking news on CNN first, and then NTA some hours or days later. Populism based on your nuisance value is mental terrorism.
I am less concerned about the actors, I am more concerned about those followers and likers and worshippers who keep reposting and amplifying the nuisance values of our populists, I mean you only dance in the market square if there are spectators!!!