Not everything you see on the internet is real.
If you have read Enders Game (The movie does not have this bit), Two children, a brother and sister,Peter and Valentine,living in one house, shaped global ideologies on politics and policy, by writing blogs with pseudonyms, often writing against each other on opposing ideologies apparently from different corners on the continent as Locke and Desmosthenes.
You might be aware of the unveiling of supposedly catfish accounts on Twitter. If you do not know what I am talking about, a catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Twitter, Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue or push deceptive online causes.
Now read this blog on Exposed Parodies. In a nutshell, a number of prominent “twitter bigwigs” run multiple parody accounts to support their causes and to bait people.
The trap of following and conversing with parody accounts is easily to fall for. They are already being followed by thousands of other people, so this somehow implies they are an authority on whatever subject they speak about. You find them driving social conversations and ideologies, all by someone who doesn’t exist. A good number of Twitter accounts are not real, nor the thought leaders and ideologists speaking behind them are not real. There are teams of people tweeting and directing ideologies this way and that.
Obviously,there is a danger here,that of Social Control Through Social Media and it binds two elements:
1. Kenyan Hyperactivity on Twitter
2.Social control for mass causes or ideologies
The Feb 28th movement was a test run of social control in Kenya through social media. It occurred two years back,on Feb 28th 2012, where, all people on twitter were supposed to come out at 1.00 pm wherever they were, and sing the national anthem. I experienced it from an office in upper hill, on the 7th floor, and I could hear people in other offices and in the streets singing the Kenya National Anthem. This was indeed proof that social media can be a tool to rally and control mass action.
Kenyans have grown online since then. Over the years as well, Kenyans have been prolific on Twitter, pushing a number of global Twitter trends, just by the sheer volume of tweets, not by the numbers of people on Twitter. Kenyans have attacked South Africans, Nigerians and fought and won Twitter wars. Seemingly, Kenya is the most switched on nation on Twitter in Africa.
Today, whatever trends on Twitter is sure to be on the evening news. On the most part though, Kenyan Twitter trendsetters are for entertainment value; media personalities and representatives of branding and ad companies. Which means their endorsements are rarely for causes and mostly for parties and products. There is the growing thought leader on policy,politics and business, these however are tied down by family and corporate image and branding to risk their neck for a Kenya that is seemingly not worth fighting for. Even the firebrand and hitherto vocal @BonifaceMwangi Quit Activism.
Come #babawhileyouwereaway, a Twitter trend on a politician making his return back home after a three month visit in the USA. After he came back, he calls for national dialogue by the 7/7/2014. The historic Saba Saba day, a day of note in Kenya’s history in terms of policy changing political rallies.
This is my prediction. Whatever exists of CORDs social media team will try to create a trend on or around the SabaSaba day in line with all the complaints on #BabaWhileWereAway, an attempt to veer the mind of the middle class into action.
Sadly, and fortunately for Kenya, the Kenyan on Twitter still utilizes the tool as a means of entertainment. Social media tools, in the form that politician are attempting to use them, to drive ideals and ideas, are the preserve of the educated and urbane.Most of the action on Twitter remains online. The Kenyan middle class tweets and shouts silently from the comfort of his suburban home. On the most part, it is a means of news, misinformation,gossip,trending wordplay and jokes.
It will take about 5 more years, whence smartphones will be ubiquitous and pervasive, for the average Kenyan to be rallied by calls to action on a mobile phone trend.