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

Now, imagine a social 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 candidate soon gets overwhelmed by the response he gets and the fact that he might find himself in a gathering where people talk about him without realising that he was in their midst. It is not magic. The logic is that the house-to-house campaign of yesterday politics is done in the corner of one room and broadcast to the remotest of locations, once there is no failure of internet.

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

That is why those politicians, particularly of the so-called third force, stand on a tenuous plank. The strength of the nation of the virtual world is in not breaking when they fall. This is because when they fall, at best it is the computer that crashes not the operator.   And most of them being faceless suffer no disgrace at any loss.  You can actually change address at the drop of the hat.

Tragedy is when the virtual beings are invited to the world of reality; they visit with the opus of their world, shouting, as wailers or …, without as much as giving assignment to their buccal cavity.

They are mostly youthful men and women, putting to use their knowledge of technology and probably killing boredom with the art of online campaign. But they may not be as committed as they appear to the ideals they profess. Some of them also have the freedom to use the ability to multitask to continue to engage others online, while they are busy at their private jobs. It is only when such theatrics are employed in the real quest for leadership that surprises are bound to occur.

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

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

Yet there were inflamed passions online, from people who cursed not just the other social media user, but also the fore fathers and even the ethnic group of the one who ventured to puncture the argument of the inviolable candidate.

On the side are the 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 all they required to be convinced that the older generation loves the young. So they take the advise in good faith that they had to watch the old people for some more time.

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

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