Monday, 20 August 2018

“Rejigging Popular Culture and the Internet of Things (IoT) in Nigeria” — by SMB Sesan Michael Johnson

“Rejigging Popular Culture and the Internet of Things (IoT) in Nigeria” — by SMB Sesan Michael Johnson

Popular culture is generally recognized by members of a society as a set of norms, beliefs, and culture that are ubiquitous in a society at a given point in time. It therefore has a way of influencing people’s attitudes towards certain issues in the society. Traditionally, the media for the sake of politics is often strategically staged to win the minds of the masses. Do you remember the idea behind ‘the technology of knowledge’ and politics fuelling production of knowledges in every society? Pushing this further into the realms of the sociation, physicality and interactivity of the new media, evident is the supersonic currency and acceptability of the popular culture buzzing out via this innovation. Then, what is the big deal (kini big deal na?) about the Internet of things and the social media?

The historiographical survey of the Internet shows a sea change in technological innovation and culturedness. The ever-shifting dynamism of this leveraging technology includes revolutionary migration from HTTP to HTML, Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and other electrifying hard and soft protocols of the social media.

Evident is the accentuation in the catalogue of information and diarrhoea of conflicting narratives daily tormenting the people. In the same vein, there is increase in the momentum of the un-gated interactivity of divergent cultural curves which are always culminating into electrifying intrigues and nuances mediating and routing via popular culture and the attending sociology of the Internet as well as the Internet of things pervading our digital psychic and cognition.

The popular culture which is being staged ubiquitously and veraciously imposed by the elitist archetype on the citizenry is not only being unassumingly consumed by the credulous masses but it is also calculatedly consuming the masses. Without critical minds, many consume all they see and read on the social media not minding the sources and the motives behind the information.

Whereas amidst the cacophony of discordant crises prevalent in our polity, this imposed popular culture via the Internet/social media entails massive use of data to proliferate the data the elite want the masses to digest and believe; yet, the masses failed to even peruse and confirm the data.
Putting it differently, life is now staged to be driven by data. Everyone has now become contents producers (texts, audio, videos, graphics, etc). You can imagine the numbers of bytes of contents generated per second. For most individuals, data for connectivity is now ranked topmost on the priority list. Communication module of the youths is now more centred on data driven apps. Notably, the elders (50 years plus) are now becoming fams of this ubiquitous popular culture of connectedness via the new media.

On Nigeria’s cyberspace, there exist varied worlds and each world has its unique contortions, concoctions and culture. For instance, rumour often has its unchallenging preeminence on Facebook. Go to Instagram, you will conclude that Nigeria is a paradise but come to Twitter streets, fakes news reigns with continued contestation from real news thereby causing heated conversations that sometimes breed hatredness, causes and tintinnabulation.

Recently, Twitter, Facebook and whatasp individually agree to clamp down on fake accounts and handles. News has it that even some American celebrities such as Oprah lost over a million followers on Twitter. This is a case of living fake life (fake accounts) by the Internet users. Multiple identities and discordant representations that easily permeate into loving and living fake life. Hence, dis-harmonised lifestyles is now ingrained into the belief system of the people. This dysfunctional popular culture is having untold effects on the people’s value system and thought process. Suffice to remind us that when the scam known as ‘yahoo-yahoo’ started, the generality of the people frowns at it but it is unfortunate that unknowingly it is gradually becoming acceptable and excusable.

In terms of social justice and national development, we must rethink the ongoing popular culture of the social media and sociation of the Internet of things (IoT) currently characterising our polity. Fundamentally, this muse must not be considered within the framework of the debacle of binary debate of the elite versus the masses. It should also not be misconstrued as asking for the abandonment of this great technology. No doubt, this is digital age. As a digital evangelist I have for about two decades been advocating for ICT4D and Internet evangelism in Africa. Internet revolution has come to stay, therefore it must be romanced in positive light. Markedly, this muse is calling for strategic rethinking and refiguring of Nigeria’s popular culture vis-a-vis the social algorithms of the Internet.

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