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Don’t be Donald; Donald ain’t cute

By Sinem Bilen-Onabanjo
22 July 2017   |   4:10 am
“We live in an age of smart phones and dumb people,” I posted on Instagram two years ago. Sadly, in the short period of time since, phones have got smarter...

Twitter. Damien Meyer | AFP | Getty Images

“We live in an age of smart phones and dumb people,” I posted on Instagram two years ago. Sadly, in the short period of time since, phones have got smarter (after all I am typing this article on my Notes app using my super snazzy Swift Key app that predicts your swipes along the key pad and turns them into text) and people dumb.

In fact it is the age of dumb people hiding behind smart gadgets. If you needed proof look no further than Donald Trump’s Twitter timeline. The 45th President of the USA has trolled anyone and everyone with his distasteful tweets, from his predecessor Barack Obama to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” talk show hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski to most recently of course the international news channel CNN which he enjoys calling #FakeNews. To explain away his child-like Twitter temper tantrums as “modern day presidential”. From this tweet, one can only deduct a modern president is one who takes adverse pleasure from insulting, pre-school style name-calling and inciting violence against anyone who dares to offer criticism or voice a dissident opinion.

If, like me, you revel in instances of people out-dumbing each other on the internet, just scroll through the comments section of Linda Ikeji. Casually catching up on Naija gist the other day I came across the news of Toke Makinwa declaring herself her very own #wcw as she wrote about what makes her unique.

While I’m no fan of the use of third person speaking about yourself, I could respect that as women we sometimes do need to remind ourselves just how amazing we are. Yet I knew what this would spark amongst the dumb people behind their smart devices; and lo and behind, there they were – all the negative comments.

Because Toke mentioned she is a Scorpio, one said, “Urgh! She’s one of these superstitious women that believes so much in horoscopes.” Just to throw their own shade, another wrote, “All these her features yet she’s single. Girl, humble your ass.” As I scrolled down further, the savagery got real. A commentator who has clearly been living on Mars since Toke hit the radio waves, went in hard:

“Really don’t know what this girl does for work. Bleached throughout and just all over the place. Nigerians celebrate mediocrity, let’s wait and see what else she can do after the book on her failed relationship. After that, then what? Let’s see the next storyline. Just so much mediocrity being celebrated. How relevant she this babe really?”

One bobo who should take several seats instead of entertaining the idea of even having a choice in the matter commented, “As a happily, married guy, I would not marry this person. Just too loud and sometimes looks like a trouble maker. if you compare Toke and Maje’s baby mama. Toke is more outgoing and flashy, while Anita, looks more reserved and homely. Most definitely pick Anita as wife and Toke as Friday waka!”

Another turned armchair psychologist: “I’m telling you this lady needs help, she’s crying her loneliness out, and nobody seems to want to help, this is how , Brittany (sic.) Spears started before she end up upstate [psychiatric home] When you start celebrating yourself everyday, then, Houston we have a problem.”

This last comment got me thinking, what is so wrong with celebrating one’s self every day? If we don’t, who will? And if our self-celebration is causing some people on social media enough distress to take to the keyboard and spill such venom, is that not surely a sign of their own “inner battles” in my close friend Lami Phillips’s words. If you take issue with what someone chooses to share on their social media, perhaps you need to take a good look at your own issues first.

Then again, we live in a world with smart devices and dumb people, when Twitter troll is the leader of the so-called Free World, where you do not need a sort of license, or solid education, or simple good manners and human decency to get behind a computer to spurt such savagery.

I am of a generation taught by parents to “not say anything if you haven’t got anything nice to say” which most of us religiously followed until we discovered that, armed with a keyboard and a functioning internet connection, we are at liberty to say anything without even having to hide behind an anonymous moniker or an egg-shaped avatar. This is “modern day” cyber living where niceties are old-fashioned and the rule book is burned.

The solution is simple: a tiny bit of introspection which will allow us to turn inwards and sort out our inner battles before we wage cyber war on someone we may not even have met or been within the borders of the same continent, to refrain from typing anything if you haven’t got anything nice to type, and to raise the new generation with self-esteem to face their business and do whatever the digital equivalent of biting your tongue is: unplug the keyboard Bluetooth, log off your computer, keep scrolling down your Instagram feed…

Hence, next time you want to slander a side chick you spot on Linda Ikeji’s blog, or take to Twitter to bodyshame Mariah Carey or Seyi Law’s babygirl, or go hard on a Nollywood starlet’s ill-informed choice, just think how much smarter you will look by not doing a Donald. Because really we owe it to ourselves and past generations to continue our evolution and not to be outsmarted by our gadgets.