There is no doubt that, social media will play a pivotal role in the 2016 presidential election. Already the two fore-runners, President John Dramani Mahama and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, have both had a taste of what they should expect in 2016 and are still being served rudiments of social media everyday.
From the despicable Photoshop images of President Mahama that I do not wish to repeat here that got a member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), hauled before the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) and the same of Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghanaian youths, will burlesquely caption and capture the two leading presidential candidates in whatever light they want the world to see, and it is going on unabated.
The beauty about social media is that, it can be faceless and nameless, but the message can be thunderous with far-reaching effect. A teenager in my hometown, Agona Nyakrom in the Central Region, can post a comment on Facebook or Twitter that can shake the whole nation, without anybody knowing how he looks or how old he is.
Presidents, kings and queens can be caricatured anytime; some people have actually sparked religious violence by drawing or painting a caricature of one Prophet or another, that is how bad it gets sometimes.
Some are also using it to exploit unsuspecting friends (clients) in what is widely known as Sakawa.
It is a free and open platform, Ghanaian youths, have overly maximized the opportunities that social media have provided. If you cannot say it to the face of a politician, opinion leader, pastor, Imam, etc when you meet them anywhere in any part of the country, it is Okay, don’t fret Just login to Facebook or Twitter and say whatever is on your chest. Very simple!
Obviously, in the early 90’s, when we ushered in the Fourth Republican dispensation, print media was the main source of information dissemination. Most Ghanaian Journalists and writers, who are now referred to as senior journalists, including Kweku Baako Jnr, Kwesi Pratt, Kofi Koomson, Ben Ephson, Kabral Blay Amihere, etc were intimated and jailed for daring to voice their opinions through stories and articles that the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), led by Ex-President Jerry John Rawlings, thought was distasteful and could make them unpopular among the general populace.
One thing is certain; Ghanaians will use social media to caricature anybody to advance their course and probe the various Presidential candidates in 2016, including those of the other smaller political parties, like the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), People’s National Convention (PNC) and the Progressive People’s Party (PPP).
Social media, will buzz with different stories, some will be the truth, some half truth and the rest, will be to annoy our political leaders; they just have to soak it in.
The President, John Dramani Mahama, is already being served a dose of what is to come in 2016.
Some celebrities, who started an innocuous campaign of “#Dumsormuststop” on Twitter, has taken a different dimension, with a plan vigil slated for Saturday, May 16.
Someone’s joke in his or her room on a comment posted on twitter, has assumed a national character with many youths, who are active on social media, pledging to be part of the vigil. This is a testament of the times we live in.
Next year, will see more of this, not necessarily an organization of another vigil, but dirty campaigns and comments by supporters of the two dominant political parties-the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party.
Already, the Saturday vigil has had it causalities, some people’s political future are in limbo, because of how they reacted to the originators of the vigil. What they posted on facebook, has come back to bite them hard and it has snowball a process they will live to regret.
Social media, is a powerful tool, it is like spitting, you can’t use your tongue to pick it, it is the same with social media, once you write something and press the send or enter button, what you post is viewed by millions of people all over the world, even in countries you do not know exist on the planet.
Whatever harm you intend to cause, will be caused before you stop to think, and like Kalybos the comedian, all you can say is “Medi Nkwasiasem”, it is too late for regrets. Ten, twenty or thirty years from that day, people will refer you to that post, so circumspection is required before posting anything on the social media.
They are some people, whose job are to monitor what others post on these platforms, and so by the time you decide to pull down what you have written, it will always be too late, someone has copied it and put it somewhere to use against you, when the time is right.
What leaders of the various political parties must do is to maximize the benefit that the platforms provide, they should use it to propagate their messages, policies and programmes and must at all times disregard what people will post about them.
The negative aspect will come from their detractors, but there are genuine people on various platforms seeking for information, as to who has the best policies or programmes. You have so many undecided voters following various leaders and political parties; all they want is information to help them decide.
My advice is that, every political party must start to sensitize their leaders, as well as members to prepare for what is to come on the social media in 2016, it is coming like a storm, because they will not be getting a “free pass” next year.
Social media is the new deal in town and will be for a long time to come. Politicians must embrace it and use it to further their course.