Social media has expanded the frontiers of communication by …well… removing the frontiers, and diminishing the importance of distance and place.
No matter where where on earth we are, we can speak to one another in real time, with ease and at costs unimagined less than a decade ago. People can exchange ideas; they can trade; establish currencies and wire money, hold webinars and board meetings, and earn degree — and be physically located under a baobab tree or a tin shack.
But there are downsides to social media. It’s difficult to regulate and control; it’s difficult to establish the real identities of who is online which facilities aggressive behaviour, including bullying that’s led to suicides. It’s even a terrorist’s haven. Yet it doesn’t appear social media will disappear anytime soon. In fact, it will expand as more and more people, institutions and services get connected.
So how best can we in Africa harness the immense power of social media without losing our ethos, our “who we are”?