Culture versus technology -By Helen Paul

Filed under: Democracy & Governance |

black woman using phone


Indeed, the world is evolving every day. I would not be far from the truth if I claim that technology-wise, the world is advancing on per second billing! Corrected me if I’m wrong but that is not the issue for today. Something you are known for as a guru today suddenly becomes archaic tomorrow; and the hero of today will be addressed as ‘old school’ tomorrow. It is such a funny world. This tremendous advancement in technology has come with many blessings and challenges as well.

For the old people who are still trapped in the old ways of doing things, technology is a nightmare. But for us the youths, it is indeed a blessing. It has simplified many things that our forefathers used to present as a big deal.

I remember those days when the only platform you could chat with someone was on Yahoo! Messenger. This was actually preceded by letter writings, a period when post office attendants were on the same pedestal with rock stars.

When phones were introduced to Nigeria, the development heralded an era when you could call someone to confirm if they were around before hitting the road to visit them at home.
Communication was made easy after we left the era of land phones, which of course only a few homes could afford. Let me quickly fast forward to this new media age. Blogs, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp and other social media platforms are now the big deal.

These things have come with numerous benefits and numerous problems too. I was speaking with an uncle who works with West African Examinations Council a few days ago, and he told me some of the reasons why passing English language has become a big problem for secondary school students lately.

He blamed social media, stressing that students now write their exams with the shorthand codes they frequently use while chatting on Blackberry Messenger, Twitter or Facebook. I was dazed when my uncle said that some of the students would write ‘U’ instead of ‘you’ and ‘D’ where they were supposed to simply write ‘the.’

These social media platforms have also been abused; they have been used to perpetrate all manner of evils. People have been duped, raped, killed due to the influence of social media and all sorts. But then, social media has also been a blessing to many people. Some smart and creative chaps have been able to legitimately enrich themselves through it.

As an individual, you have a choice of making social media make you or mar you. The choice is absolutely yours. Internet seems to be the future of every business now. Online banking, online shopping, online this, online that. I hope that one day, a new device will be introduced that will allow people make babies online!

I’m still waiting patiently for that time. Information now circulates at a high rate. Post a picture or comment on Instagram or Twitter, for instance now, and within seconds, it is trending all over the world! That is amazing. Secrets can no longer be kept.

I commiserate with the family of the late Ooni of Ife and the entire people of Osun State. For many days after his death, there was mild drama everywhere on the true situation of things. This party would say the Ooni is dead; the other would say he is still alive. This scenario is a typical example of the disparity between our traditional culture and technology – an offspring of westernisation.

I was made to understand that before announcing the passing of an Ooni, some rituals must be carried out for a specific number of days, if not, calamity may befall the town or village as the case may be. But what is the business of new media with that?

For instance, how many Facebook users or bloggers do you intend to tell that the death of the Ooni should not be broadcasted yet? Things have changed. Information now spreads faster than anything now.

After several days of denial, the Ooni’s son eventually opened up on Wednesday that indeed, the monarch had passed away. He was only stating the obvious. It was already stale news by the time he was making the announcement. This is just an example of the many challenges that our culture and tradition are facing with technology. And fortunately or unfortunately, technology is apparently having the upper hand.

I can even say it is a won battle already. But what does the future hold if things continue this way? We need to uphold our culture and tradition, and we honestly need technology as well. So how can we strike a balance? This is a topic for another day.