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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.

The Telescope


Only Kenya allows public servants to wallow in luxury at the expense of tax payers. Reports of a ball point pen being bought for Sh8,500 have drawn outrage.

And in as much as the Devolution ministry is under the spotlight for unprecedented expenditure, the extravagance cuts across all public institutions at both government and county levels.

Our thieving prowess has reached the ears of Robert Mugabe- who, himself, has a piteous record. Bob has mocked Kenyans as graduating with Bachelor of Stealing. Our negative image of reaping where we did not sow is trending worldwide.

Meanwhile, the thorny debate over the use of proceeds from the Eurobond reportedly stashed somewhere in Timbuktu or lying in individuals’ accounts is yet to be resolved. The financial crisis is real with the shilling trading for 102 to the dollar, inflating the cost of living.

However, the Jubilee leadership insists the picture is not as bad as the Opposition paints it.

We are reaping the fruits of our laid back attitude. A few years back investigators named the drug dealers within, we largely ignored the expose.We were told there were thieves stashing money abroad, we looked the other way. They told us tribalism was gnawing at the fabric of our nation, we ignored the warning.

“We were told there were thieves stashing money abroad, we looked the other side. They said the economy was shaky, we wasted more”

They told us the economy was headed to the abyss, we wasted more. They pointed out the plunderers amongst us but we instead clothed them in silk. And now we are raving and ranting on both Facebook and Twitter, impotently. Such apathy in no solution to our socio-economic and political predicament.

Investigation results

Public servants suspected of plunder must-step aside pending investigations. Efforts to save image by shifting blame will not do. Leaders with integrity issues should not undermine the public’s intelligence.

In the case of the Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru, the uproar, away from the sideshows is not personal culpability but rather integrity. She should take responsibility and step aside and wait for investigation results and shame her tormentors.

Most leaders imagine Chapter Six of the Constitution refers to “other” people and not them. They engage in hate speech and cry foul when questioned. We need stronger laws to arrest and charge such foul mouths to deter others who might be tempted to follow suit.

Many government officials face ethical challenges but when confronted, retreat into their political parties or tribal cocoons. Unless we deal with these ethical and integrity hurdles without fear or favour, we shall be confronted with social upheaval with devastating consequences.

President Uhuru Kenyatta should calm the fears by dealing with the looters. Mere rhetoric only fuels anger among overburdened tax payers. I rest my case.

This article was published on People Weekend on 7-8, November, 2015

The Telescope


Tumetoka analog tuko digital but even while the digital status is supposed to herald the demise of traditional media it’s becoming increasingly hard to talk about the media today without someone ardently referencing  old media’s unopposed importance.

Persistently pundits have warned about the dire situation facing our broadcast stations and newspapers. Warning about the surge in citizen journalism on blogs, social media, big media flank points on Youtube videos as evidence of a new era in media competition.

It’s also easy to believe in this alluring argument because we still nature our belief in the democratic promise of new media outlets.

A Pulitzer award in media is the highest recognition that a journalist can ever be accorded and for that its every prestigious. In the past few years the academic journalists on the Pulitzer panel have also jumpeddownload into the band wagon and acknowledged several online-only sources like the Huffington Post for the award , maybe signifying their recognition for the changing landscape.

Of course journalism is journalism and while several intriguing info graphics continue to reign in the public domain showing how social media is taking over the breaking news industry from traditional sources let us analyse the situation more closely.

Maybe most of us are missing on the point of journalism when discussing technology. The fact that something newsworthy can be published instantly on Twitter or recorded on video for Youtube does not honestly mean that traditional media is on its deathbed.

It also may be lost to some that traditional media’s role has always been to filter citizen journalism and bring news worthy content to a wider audience. Print and broadcast media still consists of generating engaging story ideas, tracking down sources, synthesizing of information and drafting a coherent written product.There are citizens who will never rest until they read a hard copy of a newspaper, magazine or even a book.

Print and broadcast media still consists of generating engaging story ideas, tracking down sources, synthesising information and drafting a coherent product. Unlike social media mainstream media  has constantly offered its audiences organizations and individuals cultivated credibility.

Nothing on twitter has been verified and while users turn to particular accounts it’s still a matter of trust.

Just as Twitter or any other social site has helped in breaking news it has more than once been the hub for spreading of inaccurate information perhaps even disinformation then like a forest on fire the same information is picked and amplified by other bloggers.

So far this much is clear though, there are transformational changes in the news ecosystem and social media is struggling for a position. These hyper-local contributors are redefining the very nature of news while pushing to new limits journalism’s entrepreneurial spirit.Internet-IPv6

The generally media is evolving just like anything else. But with new news delivery techniques together with great designs and a vibrant network of trained and curated individuals will help ensure the viability of the medium for a long time to come.

The winner of this tag of war is neither new or old media but a hybrid of the two.

So is traditional media on its death bed? Far from it!

This article was published on People Weekend Newspaper on 8-9, August 2015.