Saturday, 8 September 2012

Nigeria: The Age of Irreverence Is Upon Us Like A Rash


Culture shocks
It took reading a rather long blog full of very interesting snippets of history titled the Culture of Disrespect for it to occur to me that a seismic shift in values and customs had happened in our society that many had not noticed.
Over the last few months, anyone caught in the amber of some bygone age of interaction between the powerful and the self-important erudite set has lamented the spate of uncomfortable feedback emanating from social media forums.
That time is going fast
Those used to riding rough shod over the masses who had never had to be accountable to anyone and could with impunity be criminal without consequence having never been questioned or withstood by those they term lesser in status and influence have run the gauntlet of abuse, ridicule, rudeness, discourtesy and disrespect – the mystique and mystery that once redounded unearned adulation by reason of sycophancy and fawning had been torn away.
The age-old niceties of deep courtesy and obsequiousness that allowed for patriarchal and sometimes feudal systems of control and subservience had been consigned to the bin of the unnecessary, ushering in what I would call the Age of Irreverence.
Not by default anymore
What the Age of Irreverence meant was that people no more earned respect by default by reason of status, age, wealth, connection or position but by reason of what you did to affect your community for the better.
Much more is demanded of leadership and even more is expected of them to perform with people ready to call out bluster, bombast and bull shit. The people, many though not all, quite well informed today and poised to pounce on any sign of weakness or hypocrisy, do not have the patience to be taken for a ride.
The expression of the angry young Nigerian
It appears leaders are in for a rude shock, they engage to their peril and disengage to even greater opprobrium and that is just what has become the times – only their paid sycophants have sold their consciences for a lie in the face of manifestly undeniable facts.
That is not to say courtesy, respect and reverence no more matters but leaders will just have to work harder for it and carry their audience honestly and truthfully with them to be offered such adulation.
Like another blog suggests, the young Nigerian is angry and social media offers the forum to vent their spleen and join cause with others in what might look like an onslaught or barrage of abuse. It will take more sophisticated skills of communication to placate the passionately angry and they are increasing in numbers in what might become a formidable movement.
Taking no prisoners
Those who portend to take themselves too seriously will be cut down to side, the haughty will be belittled and the proud are in for a crashing and catastrophic fall.
It is all coming together now and only the savvy will be able to withstand those they label the opposition or as one Presidential adviser put it in his risible and lamentable Jeremiad - the cynics, the pestle-wielding critics, the unrelenting, self-appointed activists, the idle and idling, twittering, collective children of anger, the distracted crowd of Facebook addicts, the BBM-pinging soap opera gossips of Nigeria – have arrived to be the Kings and the Queens of the Age of Irreverence.
The art of the good insult
They will not suffer fools gladly and will use smarts, wit, abuse, insults, irony, sarcasm, satire and much else including data, facts or rumour in their arsenal to express their displeasure in ways that will make even the slightly old-fashioned like myself flinch – I hope for myself, I have not misread the signs of the times.
The sophisticated might well attempt to elevate the art and the finesse of a polite put-down, maybe a Shakespearean insult or even the subtlety of damning with praise – God knows, many are really deserving of what they see on Social Media and long may it continue until things are set to rights; for the highly fed and lowly taught need to experience a comeuppance that will clip their wings.
We have come upon by accident or by design the glowing Age of Irreverence and it will soon reach a street near you.

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