Are We Not Overrating The Usage and Effectiveness of Social Networks?

Dr Stella Nyanzi accused of insulting President Yoweri Museveni on Social Media
Dr Stella Nyanzi accused of insulting President Yoweri Museveni on Social Media

Today, I stumbled upon a face book post by a celebrated professor of the land. A well researched, statistically enriched and, quite objectively, articulate article about the dangers of neglecting the insidious effects of global warming.

A slew of such submissions flood the social networks from other equally knowledgeable citizens of the country these days. You scroll down and see the reactions and debates stirred by such posts. Either the people reacting to these substantive posts terribly misconstrue the mind of the authors, or they are simply apathetic and naive to appreciate the importance of the issues elucidated by the posts.

In retrospect, I sometimes feel compelled to concur with those who christen the social network users as “nothing doers trying to seek recognition.” This classification must be informed by what is posted on there. The comments are too inappropriate, unconnected and, in many a case, very sleazy. You imagine the time taken to research on the topics and think what a waste!

Disturbingly, these citizens authoring these useful posts on the social platforms seldom, if at all, bring out these issues in other forums to stir useful debates and action. They, I believe, get dulled into thinking; it is enough to share on face book and/or other social networks.

Truthfully, these networks may be good for information dissemination but are far from being the efficacious tool that we need to stimulate and jumpstart societal transformation. The social networks were originally intended to connect friends around the world. And while in the beginning they served as good debating points even for critical thinkers, with the growing usage, they have, in Uganda`s case, degenerated to being alternative entertainment forums which are mostly ideal for those seeking to heal their tedium, especially with phonographic talk and all sleaze.

Idle talk dominates these networks these days that it obscures any useful deliberations. It is such a miscalculation for us to think that we can substitute them for our physical voice in curbing our challenges. Uganda is besieged by a lot of challenges. We need all the intellectual synergy we can pool out of our arsenal of elite citizenry. From politics to economics to health and other sectors, we need to have the voice of ballsy mavericks authoritatively talking for and/or against the developments in the country.

Our Government, like all other Governments needs to be guided by as many knowledgeable people as there are in the country on many issues. Not just the opposition. Government may write off the opposition as power hungry individuals who cynically criticize the regime. There needs to be another loud and neutral voice leveraging our leadership into accountability.

It would create good impact for instance if this professor directly sought audience with and engaged the responsible ministry so his concerns are hushed over in a collegial way. This professor, I believe, can easily access the state house and/or the president on carte blanche basis. It is time the civil society, the academia and everyone came out strongly on in the issues affecting country.

We cannot afford the luxury of burying our useful contributions in the social networks where they get trivialized, obscured and trumped upon by the madness flying there. We must begin seeking physical audience with the people that we want to address. It is our duty to speak and we must make sure we are heard.

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Peter Waiswa, is a writter, analysit and accountant
  • Egesa Ronald Leonard

    Ndugu, you raise a very exciting discussion. I once thought like you, but after understanding the Politics of electing a South American Pope, I changed my mind. The concerns you raise on the quality of debate/comments on social media posts are pertinent and real, but it is all about social influence! While it takes a long period of time preparing and training a priest in the Catholic Church as opposed to every Tom, Dick and Harry picking up a Bible and declaring themselves a Prophet, apostle, Bishop, etc in the Pentecostal Church, the Catholic Church in Latin America(its largest constituency) was terribly eaten into by the Pentecostal movement/wave.

    This change of perception about social media publication informed my change of heart and I took to social media publication last year in order to influence opinion. Within my circles are peers that carry on the debate off facebook for example and we go into a serious discussion offline where we enrich ourselves and also I receive professional reviews and critiques for my submissions.