Are We to Follow where the World Goes?

Femi Akintunde-Johnson

No be today! As we say on Nigerian streets. We have, time and again, warned here about the potential dangers of what our young folks have turned the social networks to – the crippling menace called skits, pranks, blogging, and such interesting nonsense. We particularly mentioned the unsavoury antics of one of the internet chaps called “Trinity Guy” (real name Abdullahi Maruff Adisa) with his road menace disguised as “pranks” somewhere in the rustic environs of Ibadan, Oyo State. He would pour full basin of water on unsuspecting men and women, to the chagrin of the well-dressed persons unfortunate to come in contact with his sick humour…or drape an unsuspecting fellow in a huge cardboard carton…or cause people to slide into puddles of muddy water…flogging scantily dressed girls, while admonishing them to return home and change to more respectable clothes. His catalogue of nonsensical verbiage is filled with numerous mindless escapades on Facebook, unrestricted.

Of course, many of his victims suffer some mild physical harm, apart from the emotional roller coaster. Some, he appeased with monetary inducements; for others he received several slaps and blows… He spent about four weeks mid this year sipping his creative juices in detention (at Agodi Prisons) after overreaching himself by recording and showing a leering episode with a minor (10-year old girl) verging on indecent exposure, conduct unbecoming, and sexual exploitation. The girl’s parents did not escape detention either! The prankster risks spending close to 15 years in prison, if the law digs in with her real fangs.

Perhaps many of his co-travellers will take a cue, and moderate their craze for social media dollars and ‘influencer” fame and perquisites. Most likely not.

The new craving is called “Blind Dates” or Dating Game. They have modified what we knew as ‘blind date’ and refined it into an enchanting commodity that glorifies self-abuse, low self-esteem, crass sexualisation of womanhood, promotion of promiscuity, and blatant reminder of our loose moral texture as a young nation.

A cursory watch of some of these short takes of popular indiscretions portends a disturbing prospect for the future generation. The potential parents of today, from their utterances, gestures and mindsets, would inevitably produce morally flexible, ethically challenged and mentally unstable offspring… a terror-filled possibility that should frighten all right-thinking people; even those who laugh at, and clap for the entertainment they seem to provide today.

Another hare-brained sweet nonsense is the “Dare…or Drink” game – an infantile obsession of the youth and like minds. It is a game of dating immorality, and abhorrent behaviours popularised, in modern times, by the inmates of the Big Brother reality TV franchise, which antics and derelict entertainment quotient have spawned several ultra-stars and starry-eyed addicts of irreverent flamboyance.

Of course, there are available wholesome pieces that spread quality, sensible and family oriented plots, behaviours and language…and some even educational! Unfortunately, they are an oasis of wellness in a vast wilderness of iniquity.

The first notorious example on Facebook, and one of the more prolific, is by a Nons_Miraj – in which the hostess often dresses provocatively as if selling some other exquisite product beyond the blind charade. The location is the streets of Lagos, Warri, Calabar, and other major urban centers where willing participants who “are looking for love” could be found.

They are either blindfolded or made to turn their backs on each other (we are not told how they get to the spot of recording, which is often a quiet road…or whether they were earlier closeted in different cubicles or vehicles – but like the classic stage theatre, let us suspend any hint of realism, for the sake of the ‘show’).

On turning to face each other, the ‘love prospects’ begin a barrage of questions – depending on if either party measures up to preferred specifications (“specs”). Most are blind and vain. Woe betides you if your dress is not ‘hip’ in the eye of the beholder (lady) dressed as if on her way to a nightclub. Then, the hostess begins to question the value and worth of your apparel: how much is your hair? Shoes? Bag? Gown? Shirt? Even bracelets, earrings and necklaces? Nothing is spared. The other party, more often than not, does not believe the costs, or considers them as cheap, counterfeit… “something my gateman would manage!”

The man, not to be outdone, will begin a verbal laceration of the woman’s physical, mental and feminine attributes – the slur-fest goes on until the hostess, tired of laughing and smirking at the expense of the “love-haters” – asks rather mischievously: “So, what’s it for you… is it a Yes, or a No?” Whereupon the combatants go ahead to further demean and abuse each other as a simple ‘no’ or ‘yes’ would be inadequate.

That is the general flow of the riotous Blind Date “game” which attracts thousands of comments, likes, shares and other emojis – including views running into hundreds of thousands… and even a few with over a million viewership… quite a bunch in tens of millions! Of course, some dates appear to appreciate each other on a few occasions, and bile or disgust barely surface.

Apparently, fans and viewers derive some sort of relief or joy from watching people tear into one another, and seeing strangers poke crude fun, and hurtful jokes at each other. 

Before we isolate few more specific instances to embellish the level of this ongoing popular depravity, let us register our amazement that a crew of young Nigerians would shoot a live spectacle of four girls and four boys (approximately in their twenties, possibly some in their early thirties), engaged in some kind of “Truth or Dare” circus where lots are picked, and participants are expected to act out either in full view of a large sitting room, or the “privacy” of a bedroom, which scenes are also simultaneously televised. A Facebook show blithely named “Another One – 2” shows people playing out ballots with stuff like: drink garri with raw egg; kiss any opposite gender for 10 seconds with your hand going down; exchange clothes with an opposite gender until the end of the show; touch the nipple of any girl for 20 seconds; give someone a French kiss for 10 seconds; feel the size of any man’s penis, and say how long; do lap dance on any one; call your mum and tell her you’re pregnant; make foreplay without your mouths touching; make him have a hard-on under 30 seconds; call your parent and say two girls are pregnant for you; kiss someone of same gender with you… and more dross. These statements may not be exactly verbatim, but I kid you not, they are apt paraphrases. 

What staggers the uninitiated is that virtually all stupefying requests were excitedly performed, though in repeat cases, or when filled with a residue of shame, they would rather resort to the alternative of taking one to three shots of spirit (whiskey, I suspect…until the bottle dried up, or they became tipsy). What would their parents think of their stewardship – watching the hand of your son deep in the breasts of his female friend, while searching for her nipples…or your girl opening the trousers of a man’s jeans, blindly inspecting the length and texture of his genitals…among many other acts most responsible people do behind closed doors, and certainly beyond the lens of a recording device. Clearly, today’s parents have failed.

 (To continue)

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