Noel A. Ihebuzor
Activism is now one of the fastest growing buzz and fancy words. It has style and appeal. It has class. Quite a number of persons on social media would immediately lay claims to be engaging in this highly rated practice either as a hobby or as a full time professional pursuit. But like all buzz words, the word activism “contains” a lot of fuzz. The fuzz arises because “activism” is gradually becoming a label that has been hijacked and is now being used to describe the activities of a variety of persons from genuine crusaders for social justice through to paid political party agents to social media demagogues. Confusion clearly abounds and an important step in wading through this confusion is to try to come up with a simple scheme that would enable a citizen to distinguish between genuine activism and fake activism. I call fake activism confused activism just to recognise that not all manifestations of it are intentional since some clearly result from situations where unbridled zeal and exuberance have outrun sense, self-restraint, competence and capacity. Here are some signs of confused activism I have gleaned from social media.
- The display of selective moral outrage
- The abandonment of reason
- The embrace of illogicality and the descent to inconsistency
- The rejoicing over any government misfortune
- Refusing to see the very obvious
- Denying or rejecting clear evidences of government successes
- Trivialising landmark events and changes brought about by government policies
- Magnifying government mistakes out of proportion
- Maintaining total silence on opposition gaffes
- Defending glaring flaws in persons in the opposition
- Enforcing total silence on the crimes of members of the opposition
- Demonizing the government but beatifying anyone opposed to it.
- Blanking out the unsavoury pasts of newly turned “progressives”
- Revising and photo-shopping the past to fit the present
- Purveying inaccuracies and merchandising distortions
- Becoming salespersons and champions of exaggerations
- Looking before leaping; tweeting before thinking
- Commenting on things without any full understanding of them
- Consistently condemning government and commending the opposition
- Charging into battle like a Don Quixote & engaging in non-evidence/non-fact based utterances
The incidence of confused activism can be reduced if we all begin today to turn our backs to behaviours such as I have listed above and start to embrace a culture of more balanced, evidence based and socially constructive engagements which are the hallmarks of genuine activism.