Where we may be wrong

Where we may be wrong

The proper use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for the betterment of society is an idea that is little understood by the larger part of the population of Lesotho though many encounter its products on a daily basis; from the use of the telephone, the mobile (cell) phone, the internet, and other messaging systems that electronically transmit vital communication electronically over large distances or globally.

Many are content with the making of a call to a relative or business acquaintance in some other part of the country or the world, but most of those who use the technology never bother to understand the basic components or aspects of the mode of communication that keeps them in touch with the immediate and far parts of the world.
Whether for the making of the private call or for the purpose of broadcasting a message on the various social media platforms, those who use the internet actually do not bother to give care to the content they send or receive on the available telecommunication platforms. This is because many users of telecommunication products and services in Lesotho just use them without question.

For a long time, one as a user of the services and products provided by the leading telecommunications companies in the county often thinks they have every right to say whatever they feel they should without regard to the sensitivity of the information they relay to the general public on the different social media platforms.

Until one was made aware of the fact that some of the products available were there to work fairly for everyone, the customer or user that just bursts out about any issue without prior regard to the sensitivity of what they are relaying stands to misinform the citizenry and mislead them.
Telecommunication technology establishes links between various individuals and serves their interests in a myriad of aspects, that is, the telecommunications company acts as the middleman whose services are largely provided on a prepaid basis, excepting a small portion of the customer base that get their services on a contractual basis.

That a large portion is paying in advance for the services they get logically means they deserve good service from the companies rendering such a service or selling given telecommunications products. If the customers think careless speak equals their money’s worth, then it is a disservice to the service provider whose sole aim is to provide adequate infrastructure to enable communication between individuals and institutional authorities.
A 1990 ITU (International Telecommunication Union) study of telecommunications and development, The Missing Link, concluded that:

Telecommunications can increase the efficiency of economic, commercial, and administrative activities, improve the effectiveness of social and emergency services and distribute the social, cultural and economic benefits of the process of development more equitably throughout the country…

This quote clearly presents the significance of telecommunications in development and, one could assume that the bodies concerned with implementing infrastructures related to communication do consider such issues as the satisfaction of the customer that uses telecommunication products.

To one’s disappointment, it is usually the careless customer that does not have any sense or concern for the rights of other customers who use the services of the providers. An example one can make is the increasing amount of false news on the internet that has seen a steady increase in the last 10 years in more progressive countries and is steadily increasing in the developing world.

If one connects to the net using their dongle, tablet, or PC, one should ensure that what they do or say on the web does not do a disservice to other users on the World Wide Web. The downloading or uploading of material means that the user should more often than less do so with the rights of other users in mind.

One should always be aware of the new reality that even minors can now gain access to such simple things as video files on the web and that those things they come across on the web have a direct influence on their developing characters.
It leaves one frustrated by the fact that the necessary basics that are needed to ensure harmonious living in society are not given due consideration by many of our social media users.

I personally feel cheated by the fact that more often than less, some the users of the social media platforms do not seem to give prior care with the use of their words and the content that they upload for consumption by other users. The problem is not that we do not use the platforms most of time, the problem is that the element of respect seems nonexistent in that type of user that sometimes distributes pornographic content or sensitive information without consideration to its effect on social harmony.

It has occurred on many occasions that I come across inappropriate content when I conduct research and this ends up proving irrelevant to my research because such content literally floods the internet. Personal research has revealed that many of the people conducting research on the net face the same problems of coming across inappropriate and irrelevant content shared by inconsiderate users.

Many have complained but the best they get is a polite answer, or being forced to haul their machines to the customer care centre for inquiries on the type of content they find when surfing the net on the phone, because the poor service providers do not know how to deal with brigand users.
This is common, one may say, but the question remains; how can we progress and match the rest of the world when we have poor understanding the proper use of telecommunications services? Many of those countries we want to match are light years ahead because their internet or social media users have healthy habits, and the countries’ economies thus progress.

At the rate at which our telecommunication services users are progressing in terms of understanding on the use of communication platforms, even those cavemen from the stone age will soon be ahead of us.

A paper I recently read states:
The Central Bank of Lesotho’s March 2009 Report of the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA), Information and Communications Technology (ICT) activities and products have been found to be fundamental catalysts of economic growth and development.

Economic growth and development is not a one way street; there are two players in it: the consumer (customer) and the service provider (producer). If one of the two parties does not practice fairly and leaves the other dissatisfied, then economic growth and development suffer because one of the two does not operate at required levels.
Simply put, if I as a customer do not use a service provided appropriately, then it defeats the intention of the provider which is to furnish me with the platform which I need for communication.

In the end it negatively affects me as the customer and hampers the provider’s ability to improve services because they have to focus on dealing with rogue elements spreading misinformation instead of adding other useful services.
There are productive activities that one can engage in on the web to bring in needed money, but the lead preoccupation for a certain section of society seems to be the spreading of false news and inappropriate material on the available media platforms. The service providers try hard to improve on the products they sell to the consumers, but honestly speaking, the reality of the rogue social-media customer leads to hampering the provider to deliver the quality they promise.
It is a view I share with a small number at the moment, but it can be silenced only if the character of the user becomes a main concern for the service providers in the telecommunications sector. The deeds of these individuals should be met with harsher measures than it is being done at this point in time.

Africa is largely made up of consumer economies as writers including Chika Onyeani (author of The Capitalist Nigger) show in their observations. The continent does not produce what it consumes because most of the products consumed on the market come into the economy as imports from other parts of the world.

This poses a problem because the standards set in relation to the quality of the goods imported are not those of the consumer but the producer. The African consumer does not understand the quality of the goods, does not understand their appropriate use, and therefore ends up misusing them.
This is without question one of the reasons why we spend hard-earned cash on commodities we do not understand. This does not apply only to what we eat, the same habit applies when it comes to social media websites that are being inappropriately used by consumers that do not understand their basic purpose. Chika Onyeani presents the argument that:

The blame game has become a permanent part of our lives to the exclusion of any other solution that could be more viable in solving our problems. It has become the most productive part of our lives, because without it the African cannot really point to much that they are in charge of producing. It is better to blame others than to confront the truth of our being responsible for whatever has happened to us as an African race.

Indeed, we feign ignorance when what we distribute on social media negatively affects others, because we have made a habit of making excuses when we have to own up to our errors of judgement and character. Some of those that spread inappropriate content on social media often claim their accounts were hacked, but the question remains: do they ever report unusual activity on their accounts?

The likely answer in many cases is a clear ‘No’. There are many basic truths about the history of political violence in Africa, many of them are the direct result of colonisation, but the truth of the matter is that a large part of Africa was long ago liberated from the clutches of colonisation; or was it?
I think not because our individual behavioural patterns and character attest to an irresponsible type of regressive attitude that is hinged on rebelling against progress even if it stands to benefit us at the end of the day.

Reliant upon the Good Samaritans for daily living, the African man and woman have somehow lost the simple understanding that taking responsibility is what will actually free them. We should be able to take responsibility for our deeds, and from this sense we shall be able to progress as a continent.

We must be able to effectively use those platforms afforded to us by being responsible instead of using them to prove who the bigger native is.
Some states got their freedom from colonialism more than 50 years ago, but the influence or the influences of colonialism are still in a lot of ways marring the path to the true progress of Africa as a continent. Colonialism is still to blame for the endless civil wars, political instability, and social unrest in Africa.

To one that bothers to ask the simple question; is colonialism really to blame for Africa’s current problems, or, is it just a scapegoat and a lame excuse for poor self-governance and democratic political competence?
The answers to these questions are many, varied and very diverse in their exploration of the true source of Africa’s problems apparently started by ‘colonialism’, I choose to differ in opinion for, many of the political or social problems have their roots in the simple fact that Africa seems to suffer from chronic amnesia, especially in cases where respect and acknowledgement of responsibility are due.

Africa is a continent that does not accept its errors, and this leads to the repetition of the same errors to the point where they hamper the progress of the continent.
Dennis Brutus once penned these words:
the deafening clamor of their prayers
to a deity made in the image of their prejudice
which drowns the voice of conscience,
is mirrored our predicament
but on a social, massive, organized scale
which magnifies enormously
as the private dehabille of love
becomes obscene in orgies.

His words, aimed at Apartheid, are sadly relevant when it comes to this new form of professional Apartheid where some individuals are considered less than their fellows, even where such individuals infringe on the rights of others. Social media websites have become churches where tweets, posts, and uploads have become the daily mantra a significant portion of society follow.

The only problem is that they have led to the proliferation of personal speculation even on issues where such speculation could prove to be harmful to the larger society. We find it even in the midst of the current COVID-19 epidemic, and it could lead to results that are drastic for the rest of our human society.

We need to change our mindset with regard to the way we interact on social media platforms if we are to see to the progress of this world. We are definitely wrong if laymen will be allowed to present their speculations on health matters that could at the end of the day lead to increased cases and deaths from the virus. Watch your words on these social media platforms.

Tšepiso S. Mothibi

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