I find the bandwagonism that pervades the virtual space annoying. It only takes one influential social media personality to say something and their horde of followers are quick to lap it up. The dearth of independent thinking—the ability to analyse an issue dispassionately—and put forward a personal opinion is a reality of these times. Whether it pertains to more serious issues like police brutality, ethnic or racial profiling, gender discrimination, or matters of less importance such as the debate regarding who’s the greater legend between Michael Jackson and Beyonce, people are often inclined to pitch their tent where the greater population leans. But things have begun to change.
More recently, there’s been a trend of the younger generation who are willing to speak their own truth, even if this truth is an antithesis of popular belief. From the streets of social media to the actual reality, non-conformists are emerging; questioning age-long traditions, challenging culture and putting out their own theories of how things should be or work.
In a fast evolving world, new thinking is a welcome development. When we consider the inevitability of change, then it’s only logical to accept that a corresponding shift in the pattern of thinking will occur. It’s a welcome development because frankly, we could all do with better ways of getting things done. A paradigm shift in parts of our culture, policies or disposition is needed especially in those areas that have proven to be challenging.
However, while thought that is devoid of influence from the general populace is refreshing and can be a stepping stone to progress, the intent behind this recent wave of unconventional reasoning has become questionable. What we see these days is a battle for who can propose the most outrageous ideas. In a bid to be seen as a maverick who’s saying what no else is saying, random personalities come up with the most nonsensical propositions. Ideas—and—thought patterns that portend little good.
In a case of warped feminism, we have had women who are “conveniently” married, yet discourage single ladies from getting married because they believe marriage in this part of the world is designed to favour the man. And if you thought that was absurd, someone recently tweeted that boys should not be breastfed as babies. Their proposition is supposed to be a panacea to the increasing incidents of rape (mostly perpetrated by men) in society. According to this individual, unfettered access to their mum’s breasts makes male children develop a sense of entitlement to every woman’s body, hence, their tendency to become rapists in the future.
In the quest to be tagged “forward-thinking”, young people express unreasonable and downright disturbing opinions on issues. Their thought pattern is, “The more different (even if ludicrous) I sound, the higher the chances that people will pay attention to me.” So, someone proposes an absurd idea, and naturally, this generates plenty of debate and uproar. Their position is subjected to scrutiny, for a few giddy, pride-inducing hours, the spotlight is on them and more than a few people are keen to know more about them. Another person sees this controversial fellow gain a bit of popularity because of their eccentric views and comes up with the “genius” idea of mooting something even more preposterous.
In our current clime, it’s a battle of who can say the most ridiculous things. There’s a covert desire to belong to an exclusive clique of people who are thought leaders across several subject areas—which is not such a bad aspiration—only that their desperation for clout nudges them in the wrong direction. The thoughts they express are not a product of genuine belief, rather it’s an attempt to appear as a maverick who cares little about existing norms.
Independent thinking that comes from a place of authenticity and the desire for progress is open to differing views. It is willing to learn and unlearn and is not stoic in its wrongness. In an age where social media influencing has become big business, every other person aspires to be an influencer and what better way to come across as one than putting forward unusual suggestions?
So when next you come across someone who broaches a sacrilegious thought like Buhari is the best president Nigeria has ever had or argues vehemently that Speed Darlington is a better artiste than Asa, just smile and walk away. Their delusion is a product one of two things; genuine bad taste or the hunt for some clout.
Some battles will never be worth fighting. This is one of them.