If you were to stumble unto conversations by Nigerian teenagers, youths generally, in any of our big cities, you would notice that they centre principally on celebrity scandals. You would see them giggling as though intoxicated, as they give a minute by minute, detailed account of such scandals. And while you would shudder at the unsavoury details, they would consider them as normal everyday happenings and, in fact, entertaining. These are today’s netizens, internet citizens and leaders of tomorrow.
They hardly discuss current affairs. If you were to tell them that President Muhammadu Buhari is out of the country attending an investment programme in Saudi Arabia or that there has been a coup in Sudan, they would be looking at you blankly as though lost in an ocean. You would hardly see them listening to news broadcast as in the days of yore. They no longer read novels or newspapers as in olden days.
Rarely, can you catch them watching news or documentary channels on television. These are boring to them. The only television programmes that interest them are music channels. They watch everything now on Youtube in their phones. They see absolutely nothing wrong in those erotic music videos or the unedifying lyrics. These are today’s netizens, leaders of tomorrow.
They are constantly tapping on their phones, browsing from sunrise to sunset. The only time they are separated from their phones is when they are asleep. Even when they are eating, they have their eyes on it, browsing. When they are walking they have their earpieces stuck to their ears, listening to their favourite, ‘modern day’ music and rapper. And what sites are they browsing on the internet?
They are browsing through social media sites, following their favourite celebrities cum stars whom they consider as role models, even tin gods of sorts. They eagerly follow their every move, what they eat, how they sleep, where they hang out, how they dress, their posts, just about everything about them, all of which they upload on social media 24/7.
A celebrity is defined as a “famous person in entertainment or sport”. And a famous person is defined by netizens as one with a very large following, whose every post attract thousands, millions of views. However, the posts that titillate netizens, which they rush to see and praise in the comments section, are baffling to some of us.
They are often pictures of scantily dressed female celebrities showing off their nakedness, celebrities showing off pictures of their expensive wristwatches, bags, big cars or houses, posting selfies of themselves in rented houses and rented cars, celebrities gifting their toddler children expensive cars to mark their children’s birthday, and so on and so forth.
Indeed these are considered ‘newsworthy’ to be splashed on front pages of popular mediums as Opera news, Nairaland, etc. These supposedly news platforms argue that it is these kinds of posts that drive traffic and earn them money, hence the need to give them some prominence. What value do these apparently egoistic posts give to netizens? You begin to ponder over the basic objectives of journalism or a media organisation generally, which is to inform, educate and entertain. Netizens are less concerned about the first two. Their main focuss is the last one, entertainment.
Expectedly, entertainment which is equated to feeding the eyes connotes something else for them, different from what those of us seen as old fashioned, consider it to be. For them entertainment has no red lines, nor does it know class, age or moral boundaries. What conservative people like us would view as repulsive is alright by them.
Which was why Singer Tiwa Savage’s sex tape had garnered countless views within hours of its being online. Social media platforms/bloggers without blinking an eyelid posted links to it. Netizens don’t see anything wrong in watching that porn; to them, they are just having fun, entertaining themselves.
Tiwa herself did not see anything wrong in it either which is
why she did not apologise for publicly assaulting people’s sensibilities through its leakage. She only admitted that it was let out by mistake.
Few days later, she appeared with her full chest (a la celebrity slang) at a birthday ceremony for the son of another celebrity singer, spraying the toddler dollars with netizens hailing; a toddler that is not yet self-conscious, still unconscious of his environment. It is this insensitivity that makes social media platforms display gory pictures of accidents and the like, including split skulls. Netizens happily share such pictures. In the last few weeks, netizens have been regaled/have been regaling themselves in their staple menu, namely, relationship scandals of some of their stars. I term this celebrity mess.
First it was Tuface having a brawl with his legal wife at the centre of which was one of his baby mamas, named Pero. Family members on both sides joined the internet fight, revealing family secrets. Netizens were literally applauding, yearning for more while the rest of us watched helplessly in wonderment.
These are matters that are better left in securely locked closets. Then came Actress Tonto D and her new found lover Prince Kpokpo… They posted sultry photos of themselves to the admiration of Netizens where they pledged their undying love for each other. No sooner did they make this declaration than it evaporated into thin air.
They then started throwing dirty darts at each other, the stuff that delights netizens. An example, he accused her of stealing his jeep while she countered that she only retrieved the car she gifted him on his birthday. Thereafter, an audio tape surfaced online where prince was to all intents and purpose, boasting of his prowess in bed with a married woman, another celebrity. Wonders will never end, you would say. Although prince after several days, like an afterthought, disowned the audio, it still remains on the internet and continues to be circulated.
The married woman in question posted a video mockingly asking everyone to shut up, in other words, asking everyone to mind his/her business. She follows it up with another post praising her husband for sticking to her despite the audio tape scandal. Hymmm.
Even before they had digested this, another hot food landed for netizens as celebrity barman of the Cubana fame disclosed that a former big brother housemate snatched his sister’s husband, that she is frolicking with him in far away Dubai while at same time threatening the wife here in Nigeria. Other celebrities joined the fray with numerous comments.
As this was going on, the celebrity barman posted a picture of himself dressed in the ugly regalia of a traditional chief priest in a traditional shrine. Perhaps only netizens can decode the message there. And so on and so forth.
In all of these, the bottom line is that our values are now distorted; our sensing of what is right and wrong is warped, distorted. Shamelessness is the new norm. The danger is that even those that struggle to stay above board risk being contaminated by the mess around us. And we all risk descent into the abyss without a whimper in the belief that we are all standing on normal, level ground when the reality is otherwise. Things are getting worse. What does the future hold for coming generations?
Ikeano writes via [email protected] 08033077519