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The Telescope

Modern Day Shame Culture

We live in a world of smart phones, instant worldwide information, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, multiple forms of music, divorce, remarriage, open homosexuality, widespread lying, deceit and greed, a decline in moral values, lack of civic accountability and personal responsibility, and countless more changes that create the appearance of a world in chaos. However of this numerous changes, the recent surge in the previously hushed shame culture has shockingly evolved rather fast in an ever busy world.

It predominantly features a people awash in moral judgment. Folks who undervalue universal moral principle and uphold subjective personal values. In the shame culture, there is no room for moral relativism. An individual’s correctness or lack thereof, is fundamentally based on what the social community dictates by offering its utmost honour or utter disgust through its ultimate crusade platform, social media.

The domain of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest, are a world of constant display and observation. An unmistakable parade of an intense desire to be embraced and praised by these communities. A movement of social creatures thirsty for clusters and utterly dreadful of being condemned or exiled. Their moral code devoid of right and wrong but rather the continuum of inclusion and exclusion.

Social media can be, and has been, vicious to those who do not fit in either of its groupings. It erupts to sudden, unsolicited ridicule on anyone that ‘stumbles’. Difference of opinion get so hot, so fast, because even a minor slight to a group is perceived as a basic identity threat. The ultimate sin. Its ‘moral code’ values inclusion and tolerance but it can be strangely unmerciful to targets who disagree and don’t fit in singling them out for humiliation; spewing out bilious insults that are astonishingly common online. Typical character of an ever shifting fancy of any and every crowd.

Perplexing is the fact that in the true sense of things, an individual’s identity should be based on the basic standard of justice and virtue that are deeper and more permanent than the shifting fancy of the crowd.

Yet we live in an era of an omnipresent social media that is constantly rewriting the boundaries of public and private, exterior and interior therefore it is vital for every social media subscriber to possess a compass vision of an ultimate good. To individually discover and name a personal true north that is made of a defined novelty worth defending even at the cost of unpopularity and exclusion.

cyberbullying
The Telescope

CYBER BULLYING NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

There is an epidemic in our culture and it is disheartening. Most of it is unwarranted and unprovoked. It hides behind a cloak of anonymity in the social networking universe that has engulfed our generation.

Cyber bullying is a relatively new yet potentially harmful phenomenon in which people use technology such as computers or mobile phones to harass, threaten, humiliate or otherwise hassle their peers and today, it is spinning out of control.

Moreover, in this unbridled territory of social media there have been few consequences fcyberbullyingor cyber bullies’ actions and little punishment for their crimes whereas the dangers posed by cyber bullying are not in the breadth of its perpetrators and victims, but rather in the depth of damage that online aggression causes or can possibly cause. According to a recent report, Kenyans mostly those who are active on social media are witnessing a growing number of tragedies from cyber bullying, mostly addressed to women.

In a world of catastrophic headlines and sensational sound bites, the startling exposure reveals that nearly 57 per cent or three people out of five use social media to get help, emotional support or practical advice for their real life problems thus exposing themselves to cyber bullying. Shockingly, most cyber bullying incidents in the country go on unabated.

Cyber bullying is a real problem that we are facing and it is about time the government enacts policies and laws that will provide adequate interventions geared towards the protection of not only women but all cyber space users our institutions and societies.

Tragic accounts of youth and even adults in places of influence in government who have been tormented through social media, emails, texts or instant messages are only a click away and have the capability of producing pages of results.

It is about time the government enacted policies and laws that will provide adequate interventions geared towards the protection of not only women but all cyber space users. There is a great deal of power in the internet but its use calls for wisdom, which most cyber bullies lack.

It is the government’s job to start bridging that gap. Times are also changing, requiring government to be above the tech-savvy lot that can easily over turn things through cyber space, by educating us, encouraging vigilance as good citizens, and creating a system of accountability and consequences.

We also have to begin giving youn2013-02-25-11.52.31g people, especially teens, the tools that will help empower them and not let bullies take away their self-esteem.

Cyber bullying is serious and we need to treat it as such. The fact is, this sort of social behaviour by others is unconscionable.

There are cyber-mobs with gang-like mentalities that need to be clamped down. Now, more than ever, we are living in a culture of digital cruelty and it is not only with our youth it trickles down from the top, from reckless adults that should know better.

However, I believe that as much as we are the problem, we can also be the solution. Instead of using the Internet to hurt someone, use it to empower people and make others feel good about themselves. And if you don’t have anything nice to say, just keep scrolling.

Life is short. Spend your time here wisely and be kind to people.

This article was published on People Weekend on 24-25, October 2015

muhuri
The Telescope

CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS MUST NOT LET THEIR GUARD DOWN

Equality is a founding principle enshrined in the Constitution and a central element of the social contract. During our formative years we grew up knowing that we were all created equal- with the same measure of opportunity at achIeving success.

That sounded fine but as the years went by, we started discovering that society treated us differently, bracketing us according to our gender, status quo, tribe and even the colour of our skin.

However, there is a little something known as the bell curve. Lucky are those who find themselves at the high-end of this curve than lower down. Civil society and the law then plays at the middle ground.

It’s not lost to many that civil society is among the key functions concerned with changing the shape of modern society.

For a long time, however,  a great deal of focus on high politics of transition has overlooked the importance of civil society in its role in democratization and liberalization.

For years, the civil society has been an agent of change, influencing both the processes and outcomes of social and political transitions while making good inroads around the edges of gender, injustices, poverty and violence. Statistics show that these groups have made important contributions in liberalising and democratising authoritarian regimes.

In the past, activists particularly those who were active during the Nyayo Regime, the ones who were labelled as dissidents, offered a language of volunteerism and freedom. And in every situation civil society served as a reminder that even in the modern world there was more to social life than political economy.852967248dd3e6cb3942a1fe6af42945_L

An impressive amount of growth of civil society groups have emerged to combat injustices and provide checks and balances in governance.And some arguments hold that things would be worse without the operations of these groups.Statistics today indicate an impressive amount of growth of civil groups.

In the recent past there has been a noticeable decline in the civil societies involvement in shaking up underlying structures of social, political and economic violence.Two central reasons have led to this mismatch.

First is that the civil society groups have increasingly divorced from the forces that drive deeper social change.

Civil society is like an ice berg with the perks of protest rising above the waterline and the great mass of everyday citizen action hidden underneath. When street protests are backed by long-term action temporary gains in equality and diversity have more chance of becoming permanent shifts in power and public norms.

The second reason for the decline is that structures that used to mediate between people of different views and backgrounds have largely disappeared. Amassing numbers is a priority number one for any civil group.

Structures that were placed to allow people to participate have either been destroyed or allowed to wither on the vine. As a result , the rich and diverse eco systems that brought civil societies together have begun to resemble monocultures in which organizations look alike and eventually turning into single issue or county groups.

With these dangerous trends that risk the destruction of civil societies in Kenya it’s about time we recreate the background and the constantly shifting landscape of opportunities, tools and techniques- social media and social enterprise included to strengthen these agencies. It may seem a lot to be done in an era when instant gratification is demanded but its for a worthy cause. After all its an ice berg that sunk the titanic.

This article was published on People Weekend on 22-23,August 2015