How Social Media Killed Our Humanity
This morning, after a very good sleep, I woke up because of the persistent replay of Ebony Reigns’ songs from different rooms in Mensah Sarbah Hall here in the University of Ghana. There and then I had a hunch that something wrong might have happened to her. I did not have to ponder on this thought for so long because as I walked out of my inner room to the washroom, my roommate asked me, “Have you heard that Ebony Reigns is dead?” I said, No! Then he told me that the pictures are circulating on WhatsApp so I should just go online and check. Thinking that this was probably one of the fake news President Donald Trump was talking about, I decided to check reputable online news portals rather. I did get the confirmation but I was saddened by one thing.
Samuel Butler once stated that “Human life is as evanescent as the morning dew or a flash of lightning.” Ebony entertained most Ghanaians with her songs but her fame did not save her dignity and reputation from the shame of having pictures of her dead body circulated on social media. This clearly reveals that the Ghanaian society that accorded dignity and respect to our fallen brothers and sisters have lost that virtue. I thought that pictures of the crashed vehicles were enough but people wanted to see the crashed faces. After the advent of social media, humans are losing their humanity, that is if we have not lost it already. According to Cat Stevens, “Communal well-being is central to human life.” Once we fail to feel the pain of others, then our humanity has dissipated. We gleefully share pictures of dead bodies without a thought of the pain it may cause to relatives of the fallen. What fame does sharing those pictures bring to us after all?
May I with apologies, recall you of the heart wrenching Circle disaster. Social media granted us unimpeded access from the dead bodies of the victims even to their intestines. Again the videos of the gruesome murder of Major Maxwell Mahama were massively circulated, but again, I wonder if for the sake of entertainment or the pleasure or pain – I cannot really tell – of telling another that me too I saw the video. When a mother, Hajia Fati Bapun, inspired by the motherly love, rushing to pick her child from school but was trapped in her car and was washed away by the heavy floods in Tamale, social media was there to inform us with visuals of how the mother struggled to die.
Three years ago at Dansoman, after heavy rains, a mother and her daughter were crossing a bridge across a gutter and unfortunately the small girl slipped and fell into the gutter. The onlookers, instead of helping to rescue the girl, rather hurriedly dipped hands into their poctets to pick phones just to take videos and pictures. Dare I say, that people are willing to take out their phones to take pictures of an accident than to use the phone to call security agencies for rescue operations to begin. Maybe all Ghanaians want to become journalists, yes maybe.
Sadly, this indifference is not displayed on only social media, but reputable traditional media organizations telecast such videos with blatant impunity and disregard for the families of the deceased. Maybe, we should not expect any less from our uneducated broadcasters on social media, but our educated ones who boast and flaunt their journalistic accolades must know more. When we decide to be unconcerned about the pains of others, it is just a matter of time that the empathetic nature of the society disappears. As Eliphaz said in the Bible, man is born unto trouble, so “Ꜫnto wo a da”. I take solace in the words of Mahatma Gandhi that “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
Shame to all who circulated the photos of the dead body of Ebony Reigns. Shame to everyone who gladly displayed the dead body of Ebony Reigns on his or her status. One question is, if it were your sister or brother, would you have used her dead body as your “dp” or status. In fact, would you even think of circulating it on social media. Bow your head in shame.
Rest in peace Ebony Reigns, I will forever remember you for Maame hwꜪ.
Emmanuel Opoku Somuah is a Student of the University of Ghana School of Law and a Change Engineer. You can reach him on [email protected]