Have you observed a trend? It’s called i-reporting. We all want to be the first to relay news; we are all wannabe reporters, thanks to our smartphones and other gadgets. Our house is burning- we stop on the stairs to twitpic. Our baby was delivered just minutes ago and she’s already been ‘liked’ 50times on Facebook. We just came to after general anaesthesia for a 6-hour surgery – we ask for our phones to tweet. Unfortunately, bad news trumps good news so we hurry to share the gory images on Instagram, unsavoury details on Facebook, distasteful videos on Youtube, unfounded rumours on Blackberry Messenger and revolting language on Whatsapp.
In essence, we’ve effectively lost our sensitivity and humanity. What for? So that our sensational report can get the highest number of likes and retweets; perhaps our tweet can be featured on CNN or The Stream on Al-Jazeera. Arguably, our lack of ethics may spring from a deficiency of proper training on journalism but are we really so unfeeling, callous, apathetic, inhumane? Is our compass of conscience so broken?
An accident occurs on the highway – we all screech to a halt and whip out our camera- phones with major megapixels and take gruesome snapshots to quickly send to friends and gossip sites; our safety and the victim’s feelings distant from our minds.
We witness a near-mobbing commonly referred to as jungle justice but instead of dissuading others from the act, or at least parting from such a gathering to look for an enforcer of the law, we scan for a vantage point from which to record the events and share with people while exclaiming, ‘you won’t believe what I saw today!’ Someone’s daughter is stripped naked, raped and left to die in indignity yet we hasten to the shallow grave to take snapshots, instead of calling for the emergency organisations.
Without a doubt, i-reporting can be used for good but we should remember that we are humans, first of all; wannabe journalists, a distant second, even third or fourth. We should consider if we would hurry to reveal the victim’s nakedness and vulnerability if they were related to us. Audhubillah, but if you were dying and clinging to life by a thread, your hijab off, clothes shredded, body parts at improper angles you cannot correct, would you want that to be your last image beamed across to millions of viewers? Would you want that final picture to be one taken by an over-eager amateur reporter? Would you want to be seen in such a helpless state, robbed of your dignity? Even in the media, such images have the eyes or faces blurred out.
I am just advocating that we use our discretion when ‘filing’ these reports. When feasible, we should seek to help these people out of their predicament. We should not assault people’s senses with gory images because we want to convey information; these victims are humans like us. The necessary messages can be passed across while still preserving our brother’s or sister’s dignity.
May Allah guide us to what is right.
PS. Innalillahi wa ina ilaihi raajiun to those who lost their lives in Nyanya Park, Abuja on 14-04-14.