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CITY GIRL: Social media shouldn’t be home for wounded

A man suing Twitter on his desktop computer. FILE PHOTO
A man suing Twitter on his desktop computer. FILE PHOTO
As I was scrolling through Twitter I picked up a glaring fact. Twitter is where wounded souls come to seek rest and validation.

I have been seriously considering abandoning social media altogether. To be clear, I am not on Facebook. I quit Facebook a little over four years ago.

Those Facebook accounts bearing my name are either imposters or people with whom we share names. I am neither on Instagram nor Snapchat or messaging platforms where messages delete themselves as soon as read.

I do it for cerebral hygiene. For my sanity.

I have missed “fun” and games by skipping the Facebook and Instagram experience. Seeing as I don’t have as much wealth, a certain body type or enough vacations to post on Instagram, I doubt I have sufficient content to sustain a healthy Instagram account

That leaves me with Twitter, which its zealous users claim is the more “intelligent” among the social media buffet. I am relatively active on Twitter, mostly responding to direct messages (DMs) from friends.

Some pundits might claim I owe a moderately popular column to frequent Twitter trends, which are a feature of my past life, I must clarify.

As I was scrolling through Twitter I picked up a glaring fact. Twitter is where wounded souls come to seek rest and validation.

The general Twitter culture is brutal. Because it only offers you 280 characters to tweet your mind, it conditions your brain to keep your tweets short and sweet.

MASTERS OF RETORTS

Most times, the posts are short and sour, short and snarky, short and rude, short and demeaning, short and egotistical, short and hurtful… you get my point.

It is where reformed masters of retorts — such as I — sharpened their skills. One sentence and you crush your enemy totally. One word and an ego is deflated. We call them comebacks, or to use my generational lingua, Twitter is “savage”.

Twitter is also a home ground for faux professionals who want to sound smart by writing abstruse “threads” on issues they know zilch about. Worse, their short Twitter bios read some ambiguous terminologies like “afro-socio-political activist” and “fearful influencer”.

I must however note Twitter has not just been a hotbed of viciousness, but also a crucible for a number of historical moments such as the emboldening of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment started by American activist Tarana Burke over 10 years ago.

If international Twitter is savage, Kenyan Twitter is diabolical. Working on the premise you’re the smarter one, should anyone be so unwise as to blurt un-intelligent remarks, you are required to craft a vituperative rejoinder and order them to “delete your account”. Indeed, a retort that was popularised all the more when former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told her opponent Donald Trump to “delete” his account

Kenyans on Twitter might pass for a suave and progressive bunch, but underneath the shiny veneer, is an unhappy generation going through massive difficulties in their lives.

KENYANS ON TWITTER

I haven’t seen any statistics yet on the demographical composition of Kenyan Twitter (I would love to get my hands on this, by the way), but anecdotal evidence will tell you that the verve and vibrancy of Kenyans on Twitter is owed to the youngsters, possibly aged 23-34. Well, there are older folks like Timothy Njoya who contribute to the merriment, but majority — from my observation — lies in this age group.

From their retorts, “threads”, and their tweets and retweets, you can almost catch a whiff of pain, disappointment, anxieties and depression masked behind a facade of a seemingly confident generation that claims to be “woke”, slang for being awake or conscious.

A good number of them are facing some of life’s greatest difficulties; joblessness and financial issues amid social media pressure to look like you have “made it”, confusion in relationships and marriages, unrealised dreams, disappointments and traumas like sexual abuse.

Heck, would you believe they have also divided themselves to “Twitter A” for the seemingly elite members and a “chokoraa” branch for those of who do not fit certain standards.

Thus, Twitter becomes the venting ground for a generation of young people who are deep down, damaged. Hurt individuals channel that bad energy into anybody whom they consider an enemy, and if you disagree with them, you are branded “toxic”, subjected to online lynching, blocked and sentenced to “delete your account”.

What the tech-savvy youngsters need is not a social media platform in which they pour out their disillusionments with life, but help that will allow them to deal with wounds they have collected over time.

I’ll end this by imploring them to seek help and atonement so that we can make Twitter great again!



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