Barbarians Have Taken Over Social Media — Prof. Wole Soyinka

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has expressed dismay over the use of social media in Nigeria.

He regretted that in Nigeria, social media has been dragged down to “the lowest common denominator.”

Speaking on Saturday at the 48th President’s party and his investiture as a honorary member of Abeokuta Club, Ogun State, Soyinka lamented social media’s descent to the lowest standards and takeover by what he calls “barbarians.”

He contrasts this with other societies where social media serve as valuable platforms for intellectual discourse, highlighting the absence of such reasoned engagement in the Nigerian context due to the influence of those who have compromised its intellectual integrity.

He said, “In a situation where disagreement in an election can lead to one being labeled something phobia or whatever. It is certainly amazing that in a community of intellect, and genuine and authentic values and then we have a situation of something called social media.

“The social media is awash with accusations of one being a kind of ethnophobic. So strange to me, but that is what we have been reduced to. And when that kind of accusation comes, there is no need or value in trying to say you are not. You just say thank you very much! The complement of ethnophobia is ethnophilia.

“So, if you are ethnophobic in one direction, then pull back and become ethnophilia in the other direction and leave those who claim that they are being mobilised to wallow in their own campaign of hatred, of dehumanisation of others simply because of glaring routine mundane activities as holding a political opinion, as making political observation and warning others not to plunge the society into the dark age from which we barely emerged at very cruel dictatorship, the cruelest this nation has ever had.

“I’m astonished and flabbergasted that people are so power-besotted that they can’t even accept the possibility that they did not win an election. It does not matter whether you are right or wrong or they are right. It is just a question.

“Take your facts to the table, let’s examine them carefully, consider the possibility that we may be wrong or you may be wrong. But you don’t have to descend into demonisation of the group to which others belong in order to establish your point.

“I don’t deal in social media. As far as I’m concerned, babarians have taken over social media and they have swapped the intellectual quotient which used to make and still makes social media valid in other societies. Here in this country, social media has been dragged down to the lowest common denominator.”

Soyinka, however, called on the country’s intellectual and creative community to save the nation from the negativity of social media.

“However, I believe in the community of the intellect of minds and creativity to rescue us from the monstrosity that social media has become (in this country),” he said.

Speaking during his induction as an honorary member of the Abeokuta Club, Soyinka appreciated the club for the recognition.


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