If you are one of the 28 million people who use social media in Nigeria, you must understand you are at risk of being the subject of severe criticism someday. Your sin may be innocuous or deserving—the roving social mob could care less—they are in it for the thrill, and they’ll get it any way they can. They call it “dragging”, this relentless mob action against one person on the streets of Twitter and Facebook.
Thing is, the more famous you are, the higher the risk of being dragged. Not your affable personality, virtue signalling or famed generosity will count when the roaming wolves of Twitter decide it’s your turn to feel the heat. It’s why you must never take criticism or praise too seriously.
The reaction to Tope Alabi’s gaffe confirmed my belief yet again that to presume one has loyal friends in the virtual community is by far one of the most naive notions one can possess. People wear a different cloak where they are not physically present, so the genial Janet you converse with at the social club morphs into a savage ogre once she logs into her Instagram account.
I am not about to go into an analysis of what the gospel singer said and how wrong or right it was; I am more worried about the backlash that has gone on for days. One that has overshadowed whatever opinion she shared. The jeers and sneers and snide remarks are not in congruence with has happened. No, they are reflection a deeper problem.
How can one who is so loved make one mistake (assuming she did) and be cancelled forever?
Why are folks so eager to see her humiliated for sharing an unpopular view?
It’s not improbable to think people have been waiting for her to slip up just so they can they an opportunity to sink their claws into her. It’s the preposterous nature of cancel culture; the painful reality that all your good deeds escape the memory when you goof. The lure of the bandwagon outweighs the prick of the conscience.
The mob comprises of the usual suspects: those who have always had it in for the ‘offender’, they never liked them anyway, therefore, a chance to let the bile out is what they are presented with when their object of dislike is offered for prosecution.
Category two of the mob are the pretenders; the ones we term ‘fake friends’. They hail you but do not mean a word they say. And when you err, their true nature comes to the fore. The one who appears to be on your side is discovered to be quite the opposite.
Enter the cruisers; the ones who have no scruples or moral compass. There’s no depth of thought in the way they operate. They never stop to think, “Do I really understand what’s going on or why I should or should not be a part of it?” “How does participating in this campaign of calumny reflect on my person?” They are on social media to catch cruise and catch cruise they must. No apologies to the person at the receiving end of their indiscretion.
Many fall in the third category, the cruisers group.
“Xxxx celebrity said this, so I’ll never listen to their music again. I have trashed all their songs on my playlist.”
“I hear she did the same thing to x and x, I am unfollowing her and I think everyone should do the same.”
Maybe cancel culture would have been permissible or at least understandable if it was directed at a rabble-rouser or a cantankerous personality who could do with some whipping into shape. But often that’s not the case. At the centre of the jungle justice is almost always the boy or girl next door, at worst, an extrovert whose exuberance got the better of. But rationale is thrown out of the window whenever the itch to condemn takes over.
Don’t get it wrong, there are people that deserve to cancelled: thieving politicians, deceitful governments, irresponsible parents, criminals in all shapes and forms…you know. Not people who are only guilty of what the rest of us do in our closets.
Aligning with cancel culture does not make you woke; it’s projects you as unthinking.
Ololade, a strategic communications professional, blogs at Lolo’s Thoughts