There is no question that the internet gives everyone in the world, with at least a smartphone and data connection, a voice. The presence of social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and all others, makes it almost impossible for your cause to be ignored.It has helped the world celebrate victories for causes and nations. It has helped businesses with promotions, created more employment opportunities etc. The internet, primarily social media has turned the world into a global village and through it, millions of support has been won in forcing the governments, around the world, to pay attention as well as ensuring transparency and accountability. Social media is, in truth, the new era and the voice, we, the people, have always needed.
But like every good thing, it also has its problems such as lack of privacy and if you are paranoid, an effective tool for the government to spy on us (what can I say, I have watched too many intelligence movies) and many more others but that is a topic for another day.
Most people, who use the internet know that the use of tags is one of the most effective (if not the most effective) way of getting wide readership and attention for whatever it is you put out on the internet. I, for one, have enjoyed good success with it (And hopefully, still am).
The #Bringbackourgirls is one of those causes that has been at the receiving end of the successes of Hashtags. It has helped in driving a highly passionate cause and getting international attention for the rescue of the missing 200+ Chibok girls of Nigeria. When it seemed that the government wouldn’t pay attention, some angel; worthy person or organisation by creating the #bringbackourgirls, helped these girls, their family and Nigerians insist on the world’s attention and before we knew it, we had international ‘celebrities’ and good people helping to spread our cause and soon Presidents, Prime ministers etc, could not but pay attention. These girls, who would have been just another sad story like so many others, became a worthy cause. The world cared and they became the world’s girls. It is one of the most beautiful things I have seen the internet do. They have been on covers everywhere with different local, international and internationally local (local in other countries) press covering the story. Social Media and Talk shows internationally (And I would say beyond if I could) have not left out. People know about them, care about them and hopefully, this cause has given Nigeria, the international support it needs to, not only bring these girls back to their family, but also deal with its security threats that come in the name of Boko Haram.
Again, with every good thing, there is always a problem and the #bringbackourgirls has its own share. I am going to try not to let my emotions get the best of me and be brief. As highly useful as this Hashtag has been, it seems it has also taken Nigeria back in terms of worldview. All of a sudden, millions of people across the world have found a new synonym to associate Nigeria with and by extension, Africa. With the press looking for a new angle to the story, our failures as a nation and continent, aired over and over again. There is no question that we have a problem but it isn’t all there is to us and I only hope that the world realises that. Nigeria is also a beautiful place with beautiful people (in and out). We are communal (brotherly), happy and developing every single day. So, in as much as we are grateful for all the propaganda of the missing girls, this is in no way, ‘our single story’. We have our problems but we also have our joys and beauty.
Okay, the next one really upsets me; it is the misuse of this Hashtag. The #bringbackourgirls is gradually losing its meaning and becoming a tool for the cool people to reassert their coolness and it is disheartening. No disrespect intended but unless you understand what it means or it holds some genuine importance to you, you really shouldn’t be using this Hashtag! It is not just another story, it is not cool. It is a way to keep these girls real, current and important. It is a way to share this real and inhumane act committed by people who have no respect for life, especially that of children. It is a way to rally support and make sure these sick people are uncomfortable and aware that the world is looking for them. This is serious business and the lives of 200+ innocent girls are in question. So please make it matter or don’t bother. We have enjoyed your help and support, while we appreciate it and will continue to; please try to understand it before you use it, most especially if you are Nigerian. It isn’t a cool fraternity. It may win you scores with fans or whatever, but it is an honest cause and should not be used with an ulterior motive. Have some respect and heart
Having said that, as a Nigerian, I still say thank you to the international world for your support and labour of love and humanity. God sees you.