Politics Sat, 29 Apr 2017

Why I hate Africans! The reasons will surprise you

I must admit that with such a bold title, this might just be my most controversial article yet, or maybe not. Let me explain. Although history provides the best backdrop for these kinds of views, permit me to start this conversation from the present.

One of the rare privileges we have in this generation is 'free' and easy access to information, but how effectively are we utilizing this unique privilege for our intellectual development? It seems not very much, as this article will prove.

Chances are many people clicked this link sorely based on the controversy of the title alone. This tendency to click on controversially sounding headlines as opposed to more reasonable and enlightening ones are so endemic that it actually has its own unique term: ‘Clickbait’. This vulnerability in us is also the foundation upon which the phenomenon of ‘fake news’ is built.

But are controversially sounding headlines only an invention of the current generation? Far from it! For as long as newspapers have been around, the art of using these carefully crafted words, as invitation to readers to engage with the content of articles, has also been around. To many editors, headlines didn't matter very much because of the knowledge that their readers understood the essence of actually reading the content before forming their opinions....opinions they were less likely to share with a greater number of people due to the unavailability of social media platforms. This basic understanding now seems to have vanished from this generation's intellectual engagement with written text.

Our vulnerability to ‘fake news’ is exacerbated by our 'swipe, scroll and go' approach to almost every aspect of our lives. Research done by Microsoft indicates that at just 8 seconds, the human attention span has declined so steadily that the gold fish - whose attention span stands at 9 seconds - beats us to it. This, they believe, is mainly due to impact of the extensive digitization of our lives which affects our ability to sustain thoughts, conversations and follow through on arguments.

Visuals tend to do better than text in the attention span ranking, but even for that to be effective, it has to fall into the category of what I call the 3S syndrome: Short, Silly, Stupid. Analysis of content consumption online gives a staggering revelation of how susceptible we are as a people to the 3S syndrome – our preference for the mundane is simply overwhelming.


So if you have read this far and has not already jumped to the comments section to unleash a barrage of invective in response to my 'hatred for Blacks', you are the future of intellectual discourse. Too bad there's just a few of you left in the universe at this point in time. Shockingly, when you look at the profiles of the victims of ‘clickbaiting’ and ‘jumping to comment’, you find that many are actually college graduates. Now I can write a whole article on why this is such a serious issue, especially when Logic, as a discipline, is required reading for many students.

Back in 1945 when George Orwell wrote his famous book , 'Animal farm', his greatest fear then was the tendency of the political elite to suppress information, this he believed would stifle public discourse and create dictatorial tendencies in leaders. He understood the essence of enlightened citizens as key stewards for safeguarding democracy. Interestingly though, before the publication of Animal Farm, the English philosopher, Aldous Leonard Huxley, had an entirely opposite view which he highlighted in the lesser known novel 'Brave New World'.

The American author, Neil Postman, puts their contradictory opinions in these beautiful words in his book, 'Amusing Ourselves to Death', ‘‘Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. What Orwell feared were those who would ban books.

What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy’. Our generation is living proof of Huxley’s biggest nightmare.

Let me conclude this article by reiterating that free speech, like any other kind of freedom, isn't entirely free. Freedom without responsibility is like a fully loaded gun in the hands of a three year old, so is social media in the hands of nitwits. Ouch! Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for Facebook is to make the world more open and connected.....it's a noble one...but to make this effective we should be willing to engage one another, not insult, debate, not degrade,...


And oh, on my hatred of Africans, it was merely a ruse. Sorry. I’m a strong believer that diversity is the spice of our humanity.

The writer blogs on social and economic issues at www.thinkingWityou.wordpress.com

Source: Kwadwo Agyapong Antwi