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A Side Note on Objectivity

22 Jan
A Side Note on Objectivity

The social media space lends itself to a lot of analysis. Even a website like Instagram which should be about pictures has a comment section because when you think of it, even thougn a picture can speak a thousand words there is still room for a few hundred more.

Everyday, we are hounded by our very presence on social media platforms to offer an opinion, solicited or not, on an ongoing issue or situation. It takes string restraint to not comment on every issue when you know you have an aufience ready to listen. When we do offer our thoughts, we do not one to be judged as people taking sides, who are showing bias in our judgements, who are subjective.

The facts remain though that even before we open our mouths we are already biased by  our upbringing, religious leanings and learnings, political preferences, education, level of exposure or not to a given topic and so on. How then can we be objective?

The years between 2012 and 2015 will always be pivotal in Nigeria’s history. Most of the sociopolitical conversations we are having today were shaped in those years. People took camps or were camped based on the comments they made during the Occupy Nigeria protests. Terms were coined to label people, because really how can you identify people if you don’t label them? There was no room for neutrality (read objectivity). You were either for the government or for the people. The people eventually morphed into the Buhari camp and objective analysis of issues was replaced by group think.Today, there is a crisis of identity. Who really stands for the people?

In a way, I see Nigeria being replayed in America. But, I am no ‘expat’ in American politics and my observation is confined to the local exposure of one living thousands of kilometres away. The dynamics may definitely be different but the “Us vs Them” mentality that prevailed in Nigeria then is what I’m seeing now: If you voted for Trump then shame on you for supporting anarchy. If you had not been that stupid, we would not need America to be great again! 

Lines are being drawn and objectivity is getting blurred as each individual is forced to take a side. The sidelines have been eliminated.

With the dearth of objectivity, one can imagine that if this trend continues, we will be running an obituary soon. 

However, a few people are fighting hard to see that objectivity does not die. They are trying to keep it alive by engaging in what I term ‘Equal Bashing’. This is a system whereby one quantifies bashing in measures.Each bash is termed a dose. So if one issues two doses of bashing to Camp A, he must as a matter of principle find a reason (even if it does not exist) to issue two doses of bashing to Camp B.

When I was growing up, my father would never take my side in an argument that involves non family members. He said this is becuse he held me to higher standards. He felt I should know better. This annoyed me to no end. I felt this was really unfair. 

This is how I feel about the Equal Bashing technique. Instead of helping build objectivity, it is actually providing the nails for this coffin. For example, A presidential media aide goofed, the proponents of equal bashing will after bashing them for impropriety, find a reason to bash the other camp no matter how ridiculous their reasoning sounds. It could be: If Jonathan’s media aides didnt set the bar low, you wouldn’t be able to go lower or why do these GEJ people always come to defend him when his name is mentioned. ( Will it be over the top if I inserted a meme here?)

One dictionary defines objectivity as fairness.Where is the fairness in turning logic on his head in the name of Equal Bashing? Can a person not consistently lend support to a side and still be objective? If we say they can’t, it means we are postulating that loyalty and objectivity are parrallel lines. Are they?

Objectivity means balance. Perhaps Equal Bashing borrows it’s tenets from this. Perhaps seeing a scale and wanting to ensure that one side is not tipped against the other on each issue raised. But here is the thing, balance is not judged based on equalising the scale but on presenting every possible side of an issue and weighing them. An objective mind will put all arguments on the scale weigh them and decide which is heaviest. His balance is achieved in weighing every argument and not throwing any out. At the end, one side may be tipped against the other as a result of objectivity.

Happily, there are still a few objective voices who can analyse issues with an open mind. Who do not care how they are being labelled and would rather remain open minded. To such people, I say, may your light not be extinguished. To those trying to learn the art of objectivity, I say, stay away from Equal Bashers. Try not to join people who are quick to throw labels. And this last thing I was taught: do not be too quick to give your opinion on matters on social media. Most issues have a life, when they are born a lot of people come out to talk about them, especially when their birth is accompanied by feasting of a ‘naming ceremony’ but the true worth of that child is in the growing and maturing. Then you will know in what direction the child is going and have something tangible to say about them. Always wait for a story to mature, when you have heard from all sides, then you can do an objective analysis.

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Posted by on January 22, 2017 in General

 

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