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Author Name: Ifedigbo Nze Sylva
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2008 and the Facebook Magic
Author: Ifedigbo Nze Sylva | January 05, 2009

Perhaps the most remarkable thing that happened to Nigerian youths in 2008 was facebook! Without exaggerating, 2008 will go down as the year when Nigerian youths became possessed by the spirit of facebook to such levels it became not just a norm but an amazing phenomenon. Time was when in the company of pals, the popular talk was of e-mail addresses, later it shifted to phone numbers, but now the predominant question is; are you on facebook? Now, if you are less than forty, can use the internet and you don’t know about facebook or are yet to be caught up in the frenzy, then you are either uninformed, irretrievably eccentric, an un-repentant member of the old-skool, or just plain dumb. To such people do I owe the almost irrelevant task of explaining what facebook is. The best I can offer-and I hope the owners will concur- as a definition is that facebook is an online forum of people which provides members with an almost limitless chance to do a wide range of things among which includes keeping in touch, exchanging messages and pictures, chatting, and making new friends. It sounds very ordinary rightâ€Â¦just like any other internet forum? But I can assure you that in reality facebook is much more- too big to be put down on paper. It is something one shouldn’t just read about and hope to get the gist; you should be part of it to really understand. Agreeably, there are hosts of other websites that offer the same services, but facebook stands out for its craze among Nigerian youths occasioned by the popularity it suddenly started enjoying in 2008 which has led to an explosion in its membership here. I can arguably say that it is the single largest collection of Nigerians both home and abroad on the internet and though most people joined out of peer pressure, the unique value which I call the “facebook magic” has kept then in, daily expanding this congregation of happy people. Recently, one of our popular standup comedians remarked that Nigerians have now taken over the ownership of facebook, a joke that is not far from the truth. Due to the unique possibilities for networking which the forum provides, most Nigerians have taken advantage of it to do so many things which the designers of the site might never have imagine in the outset. Nigerians have greatly exploited the potential of keeping in touch at little or no cost which the forum provides and are doing great things with it. There is currently now virtually no notable Nigerian town without a group on facebook. This has advanced the “town union” concept of the 50’s and 60’s to a web based gathering. In this case there are no membership fees or scheduled meetings days. Every one from that town can join and every second was a meeting time. Facebook has now made it possible to get to meet and interact with members of you place of origin, no matter where you are now domiciled. I need not begin to enumerate the gains of this here. Like the towns groups, we also have a cult of “Alumni /Old Students Associations of various schools and Universities” on facebook. You are able to find lost old friends, old schoolmates and folks who moved out of your neighborhood years ago. There are other groups, most not originating from Nigeria but which are populated by Nigerians. It’s often a cargo-cult thing, any of your friends join and you join. Avenues for making new friends is limitless and do you seriously want to get through to someoneâ€Â¦any one really, a star, a celebrity, role model, someone you admire, or even a foe, here is where you find such a person. When the Nigerian Uti Nwachukwu was in the BBA House, a group was formed on facebook- the Uti Nwachukwu fans group- to shore up his image and provide the much needed home support. Today, when a person dies, his friend’s form a group for him on facebook -sort of an online condolence register- at which other friends can register memoirs and express their condolence to the family. If you want the easiest and cheapest publicity for an event, put it on facebook. Perhaps the most interesting feature of facebook is the ability to make a comment on virtually every thing. It is this unique feature that really generates the exchange and discussion that makes facebook the place to be. Every one enjoys the right of an opinion and freely expresses same on facebook and like in every human society the comments range from the good, humorous, bad, teasing and the ugly. Before one runs away with the impression that facebook was just another social forum where youth while away time let me point out here that facebook enjoys many intellectual discussions and has the potential of galvanizing the youths into establishing a new order. During the last US elections, facebook provided the forum for many to offer their political ideas and for many who could not vote, donating their status in support of Barack Obama offered a unique opportunity to make a resounding statement in support of Change and I saw in that more than youths whiling away their time on the internet. I saw my generation joining strongly in world discourse and making a strong statement at that. The global economic meltdown has also been argued out by Nigerians on facebook and you need to see the various solutions proffered especially as it affects us. The leadership woes back home is always an issue for Nigerians living abroad and if only the technology was not a bit ahead of most of our leaders; one would have suggested their joining in to feel the pulse of the led. No doubt, there are some people who use facebook for shoddy acts and scam like many of our youths are want to do on the internet. The sincerity and innocence of the relationships made on the forum have been taken advantage of by few bad eggs to do various things which ultimately end up in unsuspecting members parting away with money or choice items. This is seriously condemnable and the relevant Government agency whose responsibility it is to check cyber crime should begin to take interest. The recent advent of facebook mobile has made it even all more fun and easy to enjoy the facebook magic and remain connected with the rest of the modern world. So possessed are we that one now wonders what life was like without facebook. Yours sincerely caught the bug in 2007 but it was not until 2008 before the madness became full blown and in all honesty, it’s been a most worthwhile experience. Incase you are not yet on the forum, I would wonder what you are still waiting for. Hurry, come join the rest of the worldâ€Â¦there is enough room for every one in the inn. It would be a tragedy to let this pass you by for as some one once said, the beauty of life is in participating in all what was en-vogue (in the positive sense) while you were young. Sylva Nze Ifedigbo

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