All Hail Our Virtual President

The citizenship of Facebook is over one billion, those who inhabit tweeter are in competition with Facebook. The citizens of this world often pride themselves as being the most literate, flaunting the best ideas. They connect across the world, mostly with little or no physical contact. With them is the island of wisdom and virtue. Above them is only God that is for those who are not apostates. Theirs is a world that exists in the void, if you like. But they also do not like being told that they exist at a distance from reality. Those who ‘friend’ or ‘unfriend’ the Facebook nationals tweet more than the instagramites (there must be an adjective for people who love to instantly transmit images or videos, including those that exhibit their natural state). Friends and soul mates on social media are never limited by space or distance. So, when they decide to form a group, they can raise a standard city within minutes.

Buhari-twitter-page - Muhammadu Buhari twitter page
Buhari twitter page

If they choseto form an alliance to influence the election of any country, the impact willbe so overwhelming that probing into the exercise will take a lifetime. ThankGod, those who live on social media are not bothered about what happens inother world. They just want to excel in their corner and compel other people tofollow them. They never pretend to have the power of the powerful presidentswho want to determine the leadership of another country without casting a vote.However, when they chose to elect their own president, the acclamation comes soloud the outside world must take a break to pay attention. 

Now, imagine asocial media influencer takes a contract to campaign for you in an election,the speed with which he goes about it will be so alarming that the candidatesoon gets overwhelmed by the response he gets and the fact that he might findhimself in a gathering where people talk about him without realising that hewas in their midst. It is not magic. The logic is that the house-to-housecampaign of yesterday politics is done in the corner of one room and broadcastto the remotest of locations, once there is no failure of internet.

Trouble is whenthey ‘like’ or ‘friend’ you or your candidate on social media, they have a wayof giving you the false sense of security that the election has been won, evenbefore the votes are cast. Such kind of marketing works for products fasterthan it works for candidates in an election. To start with social media buffsare not different from lotus-eaters, and that is not to disparage them. Theyfantasise and make assumptions that may not sit well with the reality of thesituation at hand. Wait a minute, before you start to castigate them, there aremany who are smart enough to turn that social media contact, the facebook ortwitter thing that millions out there merely use as past time to money. They doonline marketing; small scale, medium or whatever. As opinion moulders, theyhave the tendency to be the rave of any moment. But as politicians they hardlybelieve in structures. Sadly enough political ideas cannot fly to thegrassroots through the social media, even in the most developed democracy.

That is whythose politicians, particularly of the so-called third force, stand on atenuous plank. The strength of the nation of the virtual world is in notbreaking when they fall. This is because when they fall, at best it is thecomputer that crashes not the operator.   And most of them beingfaceless suffer no disgrace at any loss.  You can actually change addressat the drop of the hat.

Tragedy is whenthe virtual beings are invited to the world of reality; they visit with theopus of their world, shouting, as wailers or …, without as much as givingassignment to their buccal cavity.

They are mostlyyouthful men and women, putting to use their knowledge of technology andprobably killing boredom with the art of online campaign. But they may not beas committed as they appear to the ideals they profess. Some of them also havethe freedom to use the ability to multitask to continue to engage othersonline, while they are busy at their private jobs. It is only when suchtheatrics are employed in the real quest for leadership that surprises arebound to occur.

That is wherethose who relied on their friends and followers on social media to winelections got it all wrong. For all you care, those friends and admirers maynot even have voter’s cards or on the election day may be too busy attending tomatters personal that they may not remember to fulfil the promise to always bethere for you.

Perhaps weshould do some head count. Those who swore to high heavens that their candidatewill trounce the opponent before the election where did they vote? How manypeople who followed them or liked their pages registered to vote? How many oftheir followers really followed the candidate to the polling booth?

Yet there wereinflamed passions online, from people who cursed not just the other socialmedia user, but also the fore fathers and even the ethnic group of the one whoventured to puncture the argument of the inviolable candidate.

On the side arethe young stars, on whom the not-too-young-to-run law had a placebo effect.They jump for joy, and the signing into law of that act of parliament was allthey required to be convinced that the older generation loves the young. Sothey take the advise in good faith that they had to watch the old people forsome more time.

But thenot-too-old people who jumped into the racetrack relying on the wailing of thethousands of followers, who also promised to recruit scores of others, theybeing social media influencer, the reality lives in the pen of the collationofficer and the voice of the returning officer. Did they meet the requirementof the law to be returned elected? If some have not yet learnt that socialmedia ranting do not make a leader after this election, they will never learn.

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