Breaking the Bubble

Reporting from Nigeria: Emeka Nweze

Media theorist Neil Postman gave a symposium a couple of years back. It was titled “informing ourselves to death.” In this symposium, he argued that one side effect of the information age is that the average person is beset at all sides by information. Assaulted. Glutted. Drowning in it. Postman’s dominant jeremiad was that this tidal wave of trivia has given rise to an unexpected yet ruthless obstacle for an individual keen on seeking news about the concatenation of things, which is unprejudiced and free of agenda.

I for one concur with the late Neil Postman. It is a lot harder to acquire news that is sincere, dispassionate, candid and not festooned with commercials. If you are bored, looking for a distraction or trying to kill time at work but can’t visit certain websites due to IT department restrictions, please seek your jollies elsewhere. On the other hand, if you seek news not covered by major media giants for fear of scaring off advertising dollars, welcome to Valhalla.

This entry shall be updated fortnightly with news about Nigeria, the largest and most influential nation in West Africa. In addition to providing news that most networks are unlikely to air, I will be updating this entry with queries from readers about specific issues in this region of West Africa. An example of such would be the consequences of the fuel subsidy removal for the average Nigerian, the country’s present pandemic of STDs, the state of education, the prevalence of ethnic and religious conflicts and so forth.

While a student at University of California Davis, I was struck by just how misinformed most students were. During a formal survey I conducted on behalf of a professor, a disturbingly large portion of the students attending were not even aware what country the United States was presently at war with, much less why and how many lives had been lost by either nation.

As a former classmate remarked, “in addition to living in what seems like an invisible yet impregnable glass bubble, there is the ubiquitous problem of missing context. When a reckless queen in the financial industry such as Bernard Madoff is exposed, the attitude is that he represents an anomaly to an otherwise well-oiled system. Countries attack us because they hate our freedoms. Why does our country or that country’s people not throw out dictator X?

California was and is still one of the wealthiest places in the world. Almost every individual on that campus had some means, however rudimentary, of procuring information. What they did not have in that sea of data was the unbiased context for their intellects to sink its teeth into. The forthcoming entries will aim to provide the means for any critical thinker to step out of the bubble if they wish to.

Nigerians do not enjoy freedom of speech and other privileges Americans fought, bled and died for. Ergo, there is a definite risk in the undertaking of this endeavor. But life is short and truth lives long. So let us speak the truth.

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