On Social Media Debates and The Etiquette of Public Discourse.
It has become a norm during public discourse most especially on social media, for people to lose their temper and throw tantrums in a bid to make others see things in their own perspective.
It is often amusing to hear or read comments like “mehn, I don’t believe we went to the same school”, “I don’t believe you can be this naive and ill-informed”, etc. Some even go to the extreme by blocking the disagreeing party and delisting them from their friends’ list, while others keep a diplomatic distance from each other or become consensual enemies.
Personally, I have a knack for keeping relationships, so I naturally hate to have someone as my enemy, except perhaps you choose me as a foe – then, I can’t help that. With that in mind, I try to build bridges as much as I can so that I can always have access to anyone who has crossed my path.
But you cannot always agree with every ‘bullshit’ and end up being a ‘kiss ass’ because you want to keep relationships?🤷🏽♂
What then is expected of you in order to maintain peace and mutual respect in public discourse?
Let me share a personal story that happened many years ago, but made a lasting impact on my life.
In the year 2000, I can’t recall what month it was exactly, but it was early in the year as it was the second term in my first year in senior secondary school. On this fateful day, a fellow classmate, Godwin Egumame, told the class about this special pot (pressure pot) and its working principle. Now, this guy was new in the school, and also came to town newly as his father was transferred to the state. Unfortunately for him, he was addressing a class of students who had lived in the same neighbourhood for almost a decade and seen the same things; none of us at the time had seen nor heard of ‘pressure pot’.
So in our collective ignorance, we took the guy to the cleaners!🤣🤦🏿♂. All efforts to explain the concept of the pressure pot to us met stiff resistance. He could not match up with our numbers, so he gave up on the argument. Of course, we won, we concluded that he was just lying to prove to us that he had seen things we hadn’t seen.
Well, in 2010, I went to find a placement for my Industrial Training programme in Port Harcourt, and I put up with my elder sister and her family. It was there I saw the ‘pressure pot’ my classmate had spoken about a decade before!
That lesson humbled me. Despite the years that had passed, I decided to phone some of my classmates who had joined in opposing the guy, to ask if they had seen pressure pots since that our colleague made mention of it. Some still had not seen one as at that time.
The lesson is this, I am sure if it was on Twitter or Facebook we had that argument, that guy would have been justified if he had called us a bunch of bush people and blocked us. But the truth is that we were a decade behind him as regards to exposure on that particular issue. Yes, we were in the same class academically and we might even do better than him by the books, but his experience was far beyond ours because of what he had been exposed to.
Now, did you know that the same guy saw a melon bulb for the first time in my place and asked if that was how melon seeds used for cooking were gotten from? While he had seen pressure pots which we had not seen, he had not seen melon bulbs which were a common thing in our neighbourhood. You needed to see how we laughed at him when he said he thought melon seeds grew on trees.
Ever since that incident, I have always made a conscious effort to listen carefully during a public discourse and respect the opinion of others, knowing fully well that some persons are way ahead of me in certain issues, while I am way ahead of others. Public issues often open the depth of one’s understanding of a range of issues.
You would expect the ignorant to shut up and listen to a more knowledgeable perspective. But again, that ignoramus probably sees himself as the most qualified and knowledgeable on that subject matter. The onus lies on you to know when and where to draw the line.
I was in a public bus before the lockdown in Benin city, and I could not help but laugh within me as I listened to the causes of coronavirus as narrated by the driver and some passengers who were mainly traders.
In the nearest future, when the scale of ignorance eventually falls from the eyes of these people, they will acknowledge the wisdom in what you had been trying to tell them years before. But when you waste emotions and energy fighting virtual wars you cannot win and building a deluge of enemies all around, you will drag yourself to the level of the ignoramuses you are trying to enlighten.
#COVID-19 and the battle of #5G are currently tearing public groups apart across various platforms, both online and offline. I hope you will practise what I just explained in this article to avoid being caught in the rubbles of this debate. It is only a matter of time, events will unfold and we will know who had been right and who had been wrong.
In the meantime, follow the instructions given by health workers and stay home!
To your healthy relationship! 🍷🍷
As always, I remain your most trusted Attitudinal & Behavioural Coach
A & B Coach
IDEDE Oseyande, a graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, is an unrepentant believer in the Nigeria project.
His concern for the actualisation of a prosperous nation and the continent, in general, is reflected in his written works.
He currently runs an online advocacy platform (www.socialwatchdog.ng) where he engages the government and the people.
Among his published works are ‘What is Left of What is Right?’, ‘The Portrait of a Revolutionary Leader’ and ‘Warri No Dey Carry Last’.
He is a guest writer for several blogs and his Attitudinal and Behavioral Coaching classes has transformed many lives.