Y'all, while I was away a lot happened in the Tanzanian social media sphere. Much of it is great, much of it is bad- we are in keeping with global trends in this sphere. So there I was planning to totally blog on the weekend and get things warmed up again.
But in the back of my mind I had an issue brewing. That of cyberbullying. A friend was going through a very messed up situation and I was quietly meditating on why, what could be done in such circumstances, a whole bunch of factors.
So on Friday just as I am thinking "Oh, I should select a fun topic for The Mikocheni Report" and going about my day: smack! Got popped right in the face with some Tweets reacting to piece I wrote in The East African a while back. Initially I was pretty open to "dialogue" because I never get feedback on Twitter about the stuff I do on the East African. But then the day and the conversation progressed and I realized this was actually not a good thing.
Everyone who writes for public consumption gets used to feedback as a part of the job. It is valuable, it is a way to keep a finger on the pulse of things, of finding out how things are going, of getting loads more information and making connections, sometimes even making friends. "Negative" feedback is very important in identifying gaps in your knowledge and 99% of the time it is offered for free by an expert in the field who took the time to write to you and provide evidence, data, articles and so on. Seriously, you would not believe how many experts in various fields a decade of opinion can garner one.
But there is the other kind of negative feedback: that with malicious intent. Occasionally it is personal: someone just doesn't like you. Which is normal, right? No big. Easily handled. Malicious intent as part of a larger campaign around a controversial topic? Different story. If you're not careful with that stuff you can get dragged by your dreadlox into a very nasty space with no reasonable way out.
My social media is active, I tend to respond to people who @ me which is not the wisest policy but I feel it keeps the door open. Obviously if you keep the door open anyone can walk in tho. But here's the thing: Mark Zuckerberg is younger than me. Twitter came online in the mid-2000s. I grew up playing video games that had to be loaded of a cassette tape and have learned how to mistype with both thumbs. I might know a thing or two about how to avoid being dragged by my dreadlox into a nasty space.
On the other side of being called a cyberbully, I have to wonder about the whole experience. Evidently it is great fodder for an eventual piece on gender and cyberbullying (it is not a straightforward thing, that) as part of commentary on the changing online landscape in Tanzania and beyond. On a personal level it was a great check on how well the whole anger management effort is going. Once upon a time I was a chill and easygoing person. And then I was not. Now I am getting back to the Zen zone again and it was nice to get tested on that over the weekend.
Long story short: this is why the first real post on TMR in a long time isn't really a cool piece about something interesting as was originally intended. But it is also perfect because it reminded me that very few of my plans when it comes to blogging ever work out as anticipated. I guess that's just the House Style as it were. TMR may never manage to become a serious, planned out, consistently structured blog... thank God.
Y'all keep safe out there, especially online, y'hear?