Social media have indeed become the big buzz in town, the topic that those in the cutting edge of information and knowledge age wave around to demonstrate how they are trending. The measure of success is the number of followers one has or the number of hits such a post boasts.
Invariably, this means that one stays on their computer and smart- phone most of the time. The development in technology and innovation is increasingly bringing down the cost of connection, making hanging out online affordable.
You are the odd man or woman out if you do not have an account somewhere whether it is on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube etc or you do not blog and your vocabulary is not spiced with these words.
To introduce oneself as a blogger is supposed to be a strong statement of the person’s status in the world of keyboard warriors and the popularity of one’s blog is a measure of not only one’s status in the community of keyboard elites but earns one the title of influencer.
Africa has taken on this new world big time and many are the times when notes are compared among nations on the spread of the broadband in their countries. In such talk, Kenya often comes among the top in Africa and her keyboard warriors are rated as some of the most savvy in the continent.
Our Kenyans on Twiter (KoT) pride themselves on the occasional vicious attacks they unleash on whoever crosses their path. We have taken pride in the nation’s leadership in electronic transactions with the innovation in money transfer, an example that is referenced across the globe.
M-pesa is not the only innovation to come from this country. I-hub and other centres of electronic activity are busy churning out various kinds of software. Even if Konza techno polis is slow in coming up as a one-stop centre for all issues ICT, still scattered across the terrain of this land are young girls and boys scratching their heads for a possible breakthrough in their work in this field.
However, we are probably a nation on the brink of a slow slide to self-destruction. Most of our young people have taken to this technological platform with abandon. Our young people are glued to their keyboards and earbuds.
We take pride in what we do not do. We are proud that we do not read, that we have no idea what the headlines in the newspapers are and would not think twice of a book that is not in some e-platform.
We seldom pause to consider the dangers of these gadgets. Susan Dynarski, a professor of education at the University of Michigan, for example, does not allow students in her class to have electronic gadgets. Empirical evidence supports her position.
Studies have shown that, for example, students using their laptops and cellphones in class learn less, earn poor grades, and affect students who are seated around them. It is also being demonstrated that workers who carry laptops to meetings are less productive. There are other dangers such as addiction, damage to the mind, isolation, time wasting, unnecessary comparisons that this technology brings.
The reasons why these gadgets have negative effect are not hard to find. We are probably much poorer at multi-tasking than we would want to admit, the screen does not only distract the user, but distracts those around the user as well. This brave new world is great, but we can do well to approach it with caution considering the dangers it poses to society. —The writer is the Dean, School of Communication, Daystar University