Cyberbullying: A Personal Experience

Last night, as with all nights, I was tuned to BBC radio. There was a feature on Cyberbullying spurred by the suicide of a 15-year old girl from Canada. It was a tragic story given that only five weeks ago, the girl had “uploaded a video to YouTube describing years of bullying that she said drove her to drugs and alcohol.” Her cry for help was misjudged as a pathetic search for attention. Clearly, no one bothered: The bullying continued and she eventually took her own life.

I pondered on the story while listening to various experts views on why cyberbullying occurs and what can be done to prevent it. While their views were insightful, I found it disconcerting that they seemed to focus on Cyberbullying among children.

Those who have been using social media for quite a while know very well that Cyberbullying is a reality among adults. As the number of social media users in Kenya increases, certain issues arise regarding the use of various sites. Concerns have been raised over Hate Speech, Incitement as well as Ethnic and Religious Targeting. But few of us are talking about Cyberbullying.

Experts say anytime you are harassed, humiliated or threatened online it’s cyberbullying.

As the country’s SM user crowd grows there are those who seek to stand out and make a name for themselves whichever way they can. Some, more so the tech savvy, will result to Cyberbullying.

This was my experience in the last 24hrs:- Continue reading

What Did You Expect From The #VPMeetUp?

I didn’t attend any of the events with the PM or the VP. I can’t really remember what I was doing at the time, but I didn’t bother to sign up either. Call me unpatriotic or less concerned. I’ve been accused of calling other so. I’ll take it well. I promise.

I however kept myself updated following live tweets on my TL. And just like that Mindspeak meet-up with Museveni, I waited for the postmortem detailed blogposts. And yes, here they are. For what it’s worth, I think we should have some more. They’re quite entertaining and in a sense, therapeutic.

Therapeutic because, it appears quite a number of tweeps had their hopes high up there like I hope of owning a G5 aeroplane. Really, tweeple, what did you expect?

  • That you’d crack the VP bad-cop style?
  • That you’d ask a question so tear jerking that would leave the man stuttering and running for the fire escape?
  • That you’d get the time and chance to tell the man to his face all the things we say on the TL?
  • That you’d play truth or dare with him?

Granted, we who have a voice on the social media should regard ourselves different, a unique niche of the wider electorate. It’s easy to assume that we think and act different from the folks that occupy the 4th estate and other actual experts. And by thinking of ourselves as different, perhaps we believe we should be treated different, even with a little more respect.

But honestly, what is this one question you’d have asked, that the man wouldn’t have side stepped? Of all the pro-journalists who may have interviewed the man or will interview him someday – Julie Gichuru, Beatrice Marshal, Linus Kaikai and for good measure, let’s throw in CNN’s David McKenzie – wouldn’t he sidestep them too? Wouldn’t they be left as high, dry, wasted, entertained and complaining like they had just been to the Nairobi Show?

From the depths of my whereabouts that day (can’t still get my coordinates), I noted with pride those who attended the VP meet. Like you took a pilgrimage to a land known to produce watermelons, hoping that perhaps this time round, by some miracle, you’ll find mangos. And if you’ll still find the melons, you’ll mash them to pulp until they turn into mangos.

It was worth a try. But sadly, the flock of our politicians are not about to change. Like the saying goes, why fix what’s not broken? The VP’s over two decades in politics have been so successful for him using a self-designed strategy that will baffle any 10 year old. Why should he change it then, just because he was sipping drinks with a few KOTs? The sadly smart man figured: Why don’t I gather these peculiar lot around, sit them on my lap and try to figure them out without letting them figure out my psyche.

So what’s next, some may ask? # MugukaWithSonko #KufyashNaTuju #CigarsWithUhuru #MilkWithMututho

The possibilities are endless.

But here’s what I would do. I’d ignore them all. The same way they’ve ignored my plight, my voice and my very existence. Because there’s nothing more powerful than ignoring someone who has the power to insult your intelligence.

Oh, how I long for the day when a politician will call for a political rally at Uhuru Park and no one shows up. The message couldn’t be louder and clearer. We’re tired of the same old bull. Take the hogwash and false promises to the birds.

But no, we’ll always go. And they know it.

Like people suffering from battered-wife syndrome, we will always be there to attend to their every need. We will come up with campaign strategies for them and offer to print t-shirts, caps, posters and banners for politicians who’ve just realized we exist. For people whose track record we question even after they’ve painted it for us, in all shades and colours of the rainbow.

Yes, we are the same folks who admonish the media for paying too much attention to our politicians. Look at us now? We can’t ignore them. They have us by the nuts and they’ll come up with all sorts of products and sell them to us right at our doorstep.

And if they can’t package it as a political rally, they’ll throw in a few prosperity-gospel preachers and call it a prayer rally. If that’s too expensive, they’ll gladly attend our pomp-filled funerals and sell their agendas on our forefathers’ graves. We are so duped, so yearning for their 0.02cents worth. We’ll give them our time, our expertise and everything we’ve got, but they won’t let us in on much.

What would it hurt to ignore them until they start working? Until they pay their taxes, until they hire some more teachers with the same ease they pass bills like they are selling them at a kiosk.  Why do you have to keep hooking up with someone that pisses you off when you can always say: “Sorry dude, I’ll be doing something less important at the time. Like oh, I don’t know, watching flies on a wall.”

If at all the revolution will be tweeted, then we tweeps need to stand out from our fellow brothers and sisters we see on TV. The ones chasing after politicians’ motorcades like they’re now gathering around that Equity caravan like they’ll be given loans by winning a dancing competition. If we consider ourselves different then we need to act different. Value ourselves differently. Weigh every beck and call before approaching that finger saying “Oh come all ye faithful!”

Perhaps it’s time to adopt a new strategy like Ignore, Don’t Show Up or Walk Away, especially if the mangoes we demand are not forthcoming.