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The dark side of social media in Kenya.

I am quite ticked off by what I see as the misuse of, and, uninformed nature of some of what gets out on social media in Kenya. It seems to me that there are some social media aficionados out there who relish nothing more than to critique and tarnish other people. Yes, sometimes, people do make valid mistakes and get things wrong but what the hell?! I mean, why insult and poke fun when the same hard working people are trying to achieve great things?!

In-line with the above, I am reminded of the time I met Michael Joseph last year just before he retired from running Safaricom. We spoke, albeit briefly, and he asked me what I do. When I mentioned that I also blogged on the side, his face turned rather serious and he bluntly told me he does not like bloggers since all they do is insult and discredit people. He was not a happy man and I suspect he thought I was possibly considering writing something nasty about him as our conversation came to a quick end. I now “get it”, to say the least.

Just because social media gives some a powerful voice does not mean it has to be turned into a dagger of sorts? Give credit where credit is due. When people get it wrong, tell them so without making a big fuss about it as well as insulting them ruthlessly. Yes, its all nice and dandy to tweet or write blog posts that are quasi-sensational but please do keep things in perspective, as well as within scope with some measure of restraint? No need to get overexcited if you get my drift. I know its unlikely that what I have to say here would make a difference anyway but I thought I’d say something rather than keep quiet about it.

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25 Comments

  1. angiecentra
    March 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm — Reply

    Totally agree with this one. #kplc twitter responses are downright mean. Its alright to be angry but expletives said behind an anonymous name annoy me. If u have something to say have decency to say it as though u were saying it to someone u respect.

    • March 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm — Reply

      @angie thanks for the positive feedback.

    • eunice
      March 28, 2011 at 2:38 am — Reply

      Angie on KPLC have no nice words to say, I don’t what someone said but I might agree with them. How do you explain two months of permanent day and night blackouts where I stay, food stuff gone bad and all he inconveniences involved. |On the other side am with Moses on this, when you read the stream you wonder!

  2. Jim Wachira
    March 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm — Reply

    Why don’t you name names. You don’t do yourself a favor writting such a post and not naming names. Be specific. And, must you agree with all? I hope you will allow this comment. And which honest blogger moderates comments?

    • March 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm — Reply

      @jim the people who do this sort of thing know who they are. I am not interested in also starting to insult them directly. I let most comments such as yours through provided they are not have no profanity. Moderation however is important since you can’t just let anything come through – trust me on this one…

      • Jim Wachira
        March 25, 2011 at 4:49 pm — Reply

        Moses, you should name names because now you are just increasing the suspicion on bloggers. What I know is that now since the Kenyan blogging community is young, some would be very jealous of others and the ones who think they need to play nice to get deals would want to portray those they are attacking as lacking credibility.

        Blogging is not like your mainstream media. It is not exclusive to Kenya and you as an individual wont stop this. A better way to contain bloggers is to embrace each other. The moment we create classes, we have enmity. That enmity will forever haunt you since an enemy blogger will surely capitalise on one single weakness.

        Have an association, meet regularly. Have a voice on issues. Don’t dismiss others just because you hate their blogging style. We cant all be the same. BTW the enmity and throwing brick bats at each other just builds the rebel bloggers. Have you seen how Mike Arrington who is one of the most foul-mouthed bloggers, has grown?

        Brands will in a market, go for very strong willed bloggers. Respect of censor is loved by brands only in mainstream media. Bloggers have countless avenues of making money. Most wont bow down to brands. Look at even how TechCrunch writes bad stuff about even Huffington Post and AOL.

        Sorry for the long post

        • March 26, 2011 at 1:15 am — Reply

          @jim this is quite a long comment. Not sure what to make of it to be honest as it sounds like you are being sympathetic to the very folks whom I find are unnecessarily nasty. I do not think there is any point in naming them here – that’s just a call for conflict, which I would rather avoid. I have been blogging for years and I am well aware its NOT mainstream media BUT there are times I feel people just go way too far in what they put out there. As for Mike Arrington, he is popular but sometimes it seems to me that he just spoils for a fight for no good reason? Why take on AOL who own the business you sold them and insult Adriana Huffington who is your boss? Yes, he is trying to maintain his creative license but this could blow up in his face. I am not here to pander to the big brands – I write what I am interested in as well as share what I think others would find to be of value? Its important to have a balanced approach. My 2 cents…

  3. Nyabzskn
    March 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm — Reply

    Well Said, Kemibaro. Well said!

  4. March 26, 2011 at 4:40 am — Reply

    I completely agree. The ugly and mean spirited tweets, blog posts and comments only create acrimony and do not help anyone. It is sad to see how gleeful many are to join in and tear down people.
    It is possible to criticise and disagree in a mature and responsible way.

  5. […] But Kach, the man who can’t even catch a flu, beat me to it. I, also, strangely, agree with My Respected CEO, even though he seems like he was asking us to be pussies. We need to use our blogs and social media positively. LIKE I am doing right now. Highlight what is […]

  6. March 26, 2011 at 9:14 am — Reply

    I think… your anger is well-placed.

    But again, isn’t social media supposed to be a reflection of society in cyberspace? And if so… then everyone is entitled to their opinions… for and against whatever the topic of the day is. As long as its done tastefully and within reason.

    If there were insults involved… then just like in the real world Moses, you need to kick the sH*t out of however it was 🙂

  7. March 27, 2011 at 2:07 am — Reply

    I’d prefer to have a society where public discourse is encouraged – Kenya needs it – even if we have to tolerate some ill-judged commentary from time to time.

    A range of views are important to give public discourse colour and substance. Tolerance of criticism is vital.

    While there is no doubt open free speech is good for Kenya, the cost of openness is that everyone gets to disagree with people’s arguments, whether founded in common sense, reason, irrationality or spite.

    For every ill-judged comment, personal attack, bigoted view or even brilliant treatise, I’ve always found there is an army of other Kenyans willing to correct poor taste, encourage great insights and shout down the fringe elements.

    That means we have to tolerate the ill-informed view, and use the opportunities available to present alternative arguments.

    After all, it was not that long ago that Kenyans were dying simply to have the option to speak their mind.

  8. March 30, 2011 at 1:40 am — Reply

    The beauty of blogging and social media is the fact that it is uncensored and free expression. The easy thing is not to follow/interact with people who irk you, remember some people do actually enjoy what you loath. Unless someone is inciting others to war… I just let it slide

  9. April 1, 2011 at 12:28 am — Reply

    […] Moses Kemibaro […]

  10. April 2, 2011 at 7:22 pm — Reply

    Are you sure you are not just being mad your conversation with MJ got to an abrupt end?

    • April 5, 2011 at 8:57 am — Reply

      Not at all. That was ages ago and quite unrelated to what this blog post was all about.

  11. April 5, 2011 at 9:47 am — Reply

    This post shares my views exactly. on my blog I try to avoid being negative as much as possible. If something needs to crucified there is a way one can play with words to avoid being downright abusive or sometimes cruel.

  12. July 3, 2011 at 5:13 am — Reply

    Tell you what, social media is a pot full of all kinds of people. no way in the world is anybody gonna tell people what to say. In other words, opinion flow can never be restricted no matter what kind of policy is implemented. But people need to have discipline when they participate in social media. If you really want use social media, BE READY TO FACE people who nothing important to do.

  13. R. Nyang
    July 4, 2011 at 8:44 am — Reply

    I agree with the core premise of your article.

    Perhaps, purely because in my business we’re trained to be rather specific about whatever we write, I think actual examples of what you were criticizing would be useful.

    That said, the rules that I operate by in media, don’t necessarily apply to you as a blogger. You are right – naming names, as you’re being urged to here – would only lead to a string of fights down the road, which in turn, would detract from the main message here, which is having a strong sense of restraint.

  14. Randomer
    July 4, 2011 at 8:48 am — Reply

    I agree, sometimes I think the phrase “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all” should be applied more often.

  15. July 23, 2011 at 4:40 pm — Reply

    One thing I have come to appreciate about social media, is that you can’t run away from your comments.

    I may never meet you in person but what you write on your blog,on twitter, facebook, Google+ or any other social network gives me a clear description of what your values are and who really are. May be more insight in to your value system or lack of it more than you anticipated.

    Remember the internet is global, so if you have any plans of doing business with some serious people, the first profile they have of you is your tweets, facebook comments or your blog posts.

    So who will they find? Do you think they will want to associate themselves with that “u”???

  16. August 1, 2011 at 5:02 pm — Reply

    Social media is indeed a very interesting thing. You get to encounter all sorts of people…some really nasty.

    But then again there are some equally great people who are willing to offer their support. Just like in the business realm, personal ethics will govern how people interact with the rest of the world.

  17. September 1, 2012 at 9:05 pm — Reply

    I couldn’t agree with you more. There’s one muslim radical who was calling for the killing of pastors in Mombasa on twitter. We can only handle this through monitoring social media and working hand in hand with the police and all the other stakeholders by restoring sanity online. We’ve also seen pages with sexual content on Facebook that are very immoral. Social media shall also play a great role in the next elections and can be misused to incite Kenyans against each other.
    The tremendous growth of social media in business and communication in Kenya has necessitated us to conceptualize and spearhead the formation of social media clubs dubbed (SocialPro clubs) in universities across the country. These clubs will bring together different social media enthusiasts, speakers,lecturers, bloggers, industry experts, digital agencies and organizations who have immensely contributed to the growth of social media in Kenya. SocialPro clubs will also create a platform that will enhance product and consumer engagement through creativity and innovation. Subsequently we shall also launch SocialPro clubs for corporates, professionals and individuals at a Five Star Hotel in Nairobi (venue yet to be confirmed)
    At Social Edge Africa we felt concerned at conceptualized and spearheaded the formation of social media clubs to educate and sensitize people on social media etiquette,engaging online among other things.

    This programme is endorsed by the ministry of information and technology and the Kenya ICT board. Dr. Bitange Ndemo; the PS Ministry of Information and Communication will be the chief guest at the launch of the social media clubs on the 25th of September at the University of Nairobi, School of Business.
    To be part of this vision as a partner, sponsor, be part of the team or support this idea please send an email to [email protected]

  18. October 20, 2013 at 5:59 am — Reply

    Sunny greetings from Diani beach! I personally do not like social networks and it is sad that this nowadays measurement of a businesses, people etc. Yes, social networks have very big power, unfortunately.

    • October 25, 2013 at 6:27 pm — Reply

      @jane thanks for the note. The fact is social networks are here to stay and are only going to get bigger and bigger in terms of their influence – even in Kenya. Even if there is a dark side I would suggest you cosy up to social media or get left behind?

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