As I walked down Nyerere Avenue heading home from work, with my phone in my hand, my eyes were glued to it. My face book and Whatsapp were calmer than usual. Only sporting odd chats from people I consider to be far away from my social circle. I looked up into the evening sky once I reached Fontanela. The flames of the sun were receding down the horizon. This made the TSS tower and the Mombasa Trade Centre be a beauty to behold. I held up my smart phone and took a few snaps for recollection. Surprisingly, nobody seemed to take notice of this beautiful scene apart from the few tourists being ferried around town by their tour guides. Everybody seemed to be preoccupied by their phones oblivious of what’s going on around them.
I walked further down the street and crossed Moi Avenue towards the matatu terminus opposite Mombasa GPO. At the terminus, people waited for matatus in silence. Most of them had their phones keeping them busy. Some were either in their favorite social media chatting while some were listening to music with their ear phones insulating them from the noise in the street. The only noise that was heard was from matatu touts shouting the destination of their matatus to attract clients.
Once I got into one of the matatus heading towards Bombolulu, I sat next to a beautiful lady who coincidentally was chatting on face book. I wanted to initiate a conversation but the look she gave me deflated my courage. I looked around the matatu and realized that everybody seemed to mind his/her business in their phones. Since I am an extrovert who likes interacting with strangers, I felt caged for the entire minutes that we spent in the traffic jam. That is when the realization of how social media has put virtual walls in our once borderless society slowly started sinking in. welcome to the world of illusion.
Welcome to social media. This is where you will meet sites like face book, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more. This is a virtual world whereby one has thousands of friends, yet lonely. A world whereby you can speak to several people whom you do not know. A world whereby you can like an event without any emotion. A world where people can stay together without looking at and talking to each other. A world where things happen around us without being noticed. A world where relationships are born and die in a matter of seconds. A world where people upload their own photos to get approval. If you criticize them you will be an instant enemy. A world where grammar and spelling of some English words change recurrently. It’s a pity this social media has turned us into zombies.
This is the world where our phones are turned on at all times of the day. We allow the rings, beeps and buzzes to interrupt our conversations midsentence. The caller always takes the priority. The world where the App you are using is more important than the conversation you are having with your friends. This is a world where most parents would rather take their children to their grandparents and spent so much time on their phones. It is only in this world of illusion that you will check your phone first thing in the morning even before you kiss, hug or greet the people in your family. In this world, daily rituals like tucking your child into bed or nightly dinner conversations after a tiring day are neglected because you are too busy with your online activity or you were chatting as you talk.
Because of this world of illusion, we miss opportunities for human connection, we have fewer chances to create beautiful memories, we lack connection to the people most precious to us and we become strangers with our close family members and friends. Finally, we are overwhelmed with regrets after bringing up generation of idiots, smart phones and dumb people. As I disembark from the matatu at “Leisure” stage, the beautiful lady who refused to talk to me asks me where we were. I look at her with tears lingering in my eyes while contemplating whether to answer her or not. I finally turn and walk towards my house. Once I tap at the door, I switch off my phone to avoid interruptions while having quality time with my family.