AFRAKUMA WRITES: IN THE DAYS OF MY GRAND-FATHER

I grew up in a society where we appreciated our indegenous forms of communication ..

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Should I blame the theory of Modernisation and Westenization?

My name is Afrakuma, I come from the Western part of the African continent specifically the sub-Saharan region of West Africa, precisely Ghana. The first sub-Saharan country to gain independence in 1957. I was born in the 90’s, the era mobile phones and the internet weren’t common.

I grew up in a society where we appreciated our indigenous forms of communication: face-to-face communication in the form of story telling, focus group discussions, mother-child conversations, and social gatherings were our greatest essence of living.

We appreciated communalism and believed that we were made for one another. A neighbour’s problem was every member of the community’s problem. We were a group of people from different backgrounds in terms of education, religion and ethnicity, yet we formed and became family. We ate together in one another’s bowl, slept and watched television in one another’s room. When you cook, you cook for everyone in the house. Then, we didn’t know of poison or witchcraft. Infact your graduate son/daughter could eat an old woman’s food without fear of being killed, because in our indigenous societies, one’s prosperity was a win for all and so there was no reason for envy.

We believed in the Ubuntu spirit (I am because you are). After supper, we would all gather in the house and have extensive conversations, children were allowed to partake too, except in conversations tagged as adult only; that you dared not!

We were able to share our problems because we had built trust for one another.

Everyone was receptive towards the other and we had time for ourselves. The evening a person is not found in our mini gatherings meant there was a problem. We would quickly knock on the person’s door or call the person if he had phone or a relative who had access to a mobile or telephone. Those days mobile phones were used by the elite and the middle class.

Until we got to know of the whereabouts of that person we never stopped searching. We were, literally, each other’s keeper.

Our kind of love was genuine. We didn’t hide behind emojis to fake how we felt.

Suicide was not common because we were busy with people instead of our phones, therefore emotions were not neglected. The most important things were the people around us, not our mobile phones. Because there was no Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram or Twitter to distract our mini conversations, we paid attention to one another, enabling us to notice when someone had a problem.

DIVORCE

Today, smartphones have come to occupy the place of humans. Technology has become the third person in most marriages. Couples have lost the most essential element in mariages — interpersonal communication. Even when they go to spend time together, their mobile phones accompany them.

When one wrongs the other, they refuse to talk face-to-face but rather share their predicament on virtual platforms specifically Whatsapp. In matrimonial homes, you are most likely to find one partner online and the other probably watching TV or asleep. More attention is given to smartphones than their spouses.
A recent study, published in Computers in Human Behavior, compared State-by-State divorce rates to per-capita Facebook accounts. The study found a link between social media use and decreased marriage quality in every model analyzed. It also found that a 20% annual increase in Facebook enrollment was associated with a 2.18% to 4.32% increase in divorce rates. The study’s model from the individual survey results predicted that people who do not use social media are 11% happier in their marriages than people that regularly use social media. Suspicions about a partner’s social media interactions are often justified.
One in ten adults admitted to hiding messages and posts from their spouses. Eight percent of adults in relationships admitted to having secret accounts. And one in three divorces now start as online affairs.
More than a third of marriages that begin online through dating sites and social media networks last longer on average, than those that begin offline.
Today, the availability of smartphones and social media apps, have made it easier for dissatisfied spouses to look for new relationships, get in contact with an ex, or seek out a fling. Tinder and other dating site users include married persons. Sites like AshleyMadison.com even cater to married people looking for affairs – over 130 million people worldwide visit Ashley Madison each month.

SUICIDE

Parent -child relationship is very poor specifically where i come from. Most kids are unable to speak to their parent concerning their personal issues. Be it acadamics, their esperience with regards to their adolescent growth stages, pressure from peers etc. They prefer to share their problems through this platform or with their peers because they mainly do get the attention of their parents, as a result in many occasions they ended up negatively influenced.

Children who try to find solutions online in recent occasion ‘solve’ their predicament through suicide because that is what they constantly see other times they are unable to stand the pressure they see online.

Today, social media is a rising cause of teen death.
According to the SA Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), suicide is the second leading and fastest-growing cause of death among young South Africans in the 15-25 age group, accounting for about 9% of all teenage deaths.

There is a lot of pressure around life online, which eventually leads to depression. Therefore parents must get updated with what their kids get exposed to online. Many kids are so ‘social’, and yet so many are also feeling alone – it’s the great irony of social media. We look back on this time in a decade or two when there was nothing like Facebook and Whatsapp and ask why we didn’t prepare our children for life online.

Nevertheless, smatphones and social media have come to improve lives and increase productivity. We are able to connect and work faster, thanks to the internet.

We may not be able to go back to the society before the invention of the internet and social media apps, therefore the need to understand its usage and ensure it does not affect our relationships with people.

Most people, just like myself, are not well acquainted with chatting online or talking on phone. We communicate better in person than online or on phone. We are able to share our emotions and have extensive conversations when we meet to talk in person. We are not as bad as you think, we are just not used to social media networking.

Again, never allow the life you see online give you pressure. People live fake lives online. They only present to you what they want you to see. Besides, “no one washes their dirty clothes outside”.

Most people who seem to live good lives online are actually huslers. They struggle to maintain the impression they have created with the exception of the few who are real ‘mummy’s handbags’.

I can’t advice the married ones because I am not married, but i expect them to know better. It’s not late, you can still make that marriage work.

This is my new year message for you.

2019 has been amazing. To my amazing readers from all the various countries, I am super grateful…

I wish you a Happy New Year in advance.

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