SAY IT APPROPRIATELY OR SAY NOTHING! 

The internet and indeed the social media has made communication less cumbersome and given voices to almost anyone who has a unit of megabytes on their smart phones. Ironically, not everyone that uses a smart phone qualifies as smart. The advent of social media has created a new way of easing information and communication needs and what some communication expert call the “rapid-fire quick communication style”. 
Gone are the days when the feedback end of most communication scenarios was far between. In today’s world, the minute you express your line of thought, you begin to get instant feedback on it. Even the radio set which, by the art of circumlocution in the Yoruba morphology, is referred to as “the machine that speaks without getting response(s)” (ero asoro ma’gbesi) now enjoys a two-ended line of communication. The social media age has enabled the “public reply” system where there is an open channel for folks to interact with popular figures and each other in a seamless fashion. Unless for folks who disable the ‘comment’ features of their social platforms, everyone gets a direct message or response for whatever they deem to put out.    

Its tremendous benefits nonetheless, the virtual social media mode of communication has, to some extent, affected the candour with which the exchange of information is done.  With such large platforms and less interactive consequences, people now get to say what they may not say in a normal face-to-face interaction. There seems to be a wide gap between communication quantity and quality. Yes, the rate at which people interact has received a boost. However, the codes that govern its appropriateness seem to have suffered a sharp blow. 

Just for knowledge sake, we should like to know that there are various levels of communicators. Occupying the vast majority are those whose comments completely fall short of the ideals or etiquettes of communication. These folks hardly have any reasonable, useful or constructive point to make. Their contributions on social platforms often border on negativism, pessimism, cynicism et al. On the other hand, there are those who not only have positive things to say but also communicate them positively. These set do not shroud their words in ambiguity neither do they give them offensive or repelling undertones. Interestingly, there are those who supposedly well-meaning sentiments are rubbished through their mode of delivery. They claim to “make a point”, enlighten, or pass across beneficial information but do so in such a way that what they sense in whatever they claim to be saying is lost on how they say it. Think of a man who presents a friend with a shawarma in a filthy wrapper… Folks in this category tend to make their intended points in a sarcastic, offensive and condescending manner. 

It appears that the dynamics of the latter are somewhat ‘interesting’ to consider hence the crux of this write up. The latter residents of the communication complex are essentially strange people. They make statements that set rolling a series of mixed reactions most of which totally deviates from the supposed intended meaning/message of the statements. Their remarks are multi-layered and often set them up for misinterpretation. They make supposedly harmless attempts at making their points but end up hitting the targets of their utterances below the belt. One wouldn’t be amiss to say they suffer from the “rob it in” syndrome because they always want their audience to fill the impart of whatever they say albeit unsavourily. You’ll hear communicators in this category make statements like, I’ll do what I can to assist you. I however need to attend to folks that matter in the meantime. Observe that idea behind the speaker’s statement is a promise to render help. However, the speaker had to spice up the statement by indicating that whoever the object of the promise is isn’t really one that matters – so much for a show of philanthropy.                            

Here is a case study I find particularly intriguing:

A certain celebrity posts the trailer of a soon-to-be-released movie on her Instagram page and in the trailer, one of the casts uses the expression “fool of took” – an expression used in  the famous movie Lord of the Ring to refer to an idiot. Amidst the number of comments generated from the post, one of the commentators stated what she calls “correction” in these words:

Fool of a tuke!.. what’s with you Nigerians, that’s a line from Lord of the Ring. And Tuke is a character name from one of the hobbits. Mtcheeew!

Fell in love with the trailer until I heard the line fool of a tuke! And I was like what WTF!     

When challenged for her untoward comment, the commentator responds that she was only trying to advice that Nollwood practitioners be more original in their delivery and not try to blindly copy ideas from Hollywood without understanding what they stand for.  

While the commentator may have had a sincere and genuine sentiment, her style of expression clouds it. Whatever good message the commentator wished to pass have been rubbished by her mode of delivery.

 First, the commentator begins her comment on a jeering note by putting emphasis on the expression fool of a tuke!. Just as though the expression is the focus of the movie and its supposedly ‘erroneous’ use has rendered the entire movie meaningless.  

TUKE? 

Even the ‘all knowing’ commentator couldn’t get her spellings right. In writing the word took, she misspelled it as tuke. One would think the lady is meticulous enough not to have made such mistake. 

… AS THOUGH YOU’RE NOT ONE! 

She then asks a rhetorical question – an irritating one at that: What’s with you Nigerians? With that question, she already lumps the entire citizenry into a mound of mediocrity. Her questions, within the context of her entire comment, indirectly says Nigerians, whether a movie practitioner or not, are devoid of originality. Observe her choice of words: “you Nigerians”. With that expression, what immediately comes to mind is that the commentator isn’t a Nigerian hence her disgust for the way we do things. However, having checked her profile, it is discovered that not only is she a Nigerian but she also plies her trade as a “media person” in Lagos. This realisation makes one breed a sense of irritation towards a phony who is trying to isolate herself from a situation she is most likely part of. 

MTCHEEW! 

Then comes the epic hissing sound folks make to express disjust toward something or someone mtcheeew. Now, unless that sound has taken on a new meaning these days, its use in that discourse situation is so unjustifiable.

SO MUCH FOR LOVE! 

Our dear commentator tells us that her “love” for the trailer “disappears” the moment she heard one of the casts use the expression fool of a tuke. What a love! It’s highly unlikely if she can sustain a relationship because, from the look of things, she may likely call a relationship quit at the utterance of any “unintelligent” expression by her partner.   

WHAT’S WITH THE ‘F’ WORD? 

Here comes the final straw that breaks the camel’s back – the use of the highly offensive expression WTF!  This is an abbreviation for What the f**k. The commentator makes an attempt at being euphemistic by abbreviating the expression. The question is why try to use an expression that won’t be well received by your audience. If I can restrain myself enough from spelling out a dirty word, I should be able to restrain myself from using it all together.

Instead of sounding irritating and putting off her audience with swear words, she could have expressed her sentiment in the following words:

I just saw the movie trailer. While I love its content, I have a reservation with the use of the expression fool of a tuke by one of the casts. The expression is a direct lifting from Lord of the Ring and was not used in the right context in the trailer. I feel Nollywood movie practitioners can be more original and creative with their lines.

We shouldn’t throw the baby away with the bath water, some will advocate. Ignore the mode of expression and focus on the message, others will preach. Should we then tolerate excesses, anomalies and misnomers in the name of making a point? What does it take to state a point in the appropriate way? Just as whatever is worth doing is worth doing well, whatever is worth saying is worth saying well!  To say the right thing the wrong way is to say the wrong thing. One who wishes to establish his point should be diligent about how he passes it across. People fail to understand that the relationship between what you say and how you say it is not mutually exclusive; rather, they are conjoined. The mode of delivery has a way of imparting what is said. One fails to communicate when the intended meaning of one’s message is not received by the audience. To ensure that what meaning is being communicated is well received, the speaker should ensure clarity, conciseness and zero ambiguity. To say you mean to correct me with derogatory and demeaning statements is to be insincere. Children who were nurtured by typical African parents are not alien to the pattern of this latter mode of communication. For instance, many mothers end up inflicting emotional/psychological pain (through offensive/abusive words) on their children in their bid to correct them for a wrong.   

Obscenities have no place in polite and mature conversations. Distasteful expressions and offensive words have the capacity to turn the recipient off regardless of how substantial or valuable its content it. Making a point with profanities and repulsive words is tantamount to not desiring to make one’s point achieve its intended purpose. If certain expressions carry negative connotations and can easily alienate the audience, shouldn’t they be avoided for the sake of positive reception? It’s like preparing a delicious meal of fried rice and garnishing it with a sprinkling of sand – no matter how well done it was, no right thinking folk will be eager to eat it. 

Image credit: HealthImaging 

©ayansolaibukun 

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Between Scepticism & Cynicism 

John: Hi Ade! 
Ade: Hi John.

John: I was told the famous Prof. Snips has released his latest book on Scapegoatism.

Ade: Oh!

John: Yea. From what I heard, his delivery on the subject is exhaustive.

Ade: Really?

John: You don’t seem to agree with that submission?

Ade: Well, Prof. Snips is sure a fantastic writer but just because he is so doesn’t make his view on the concept absolute. Before I can come to that conclusion, I will have to read the book from a critical cum analytical perspective.

  

John: Hi Ade!

Ade: Hi John.

John: I was told the famous Prof. Snips has released his latest book on Scapegoatism.

Ade: Oh!

John: Yea. From what I heard, his delivery on the subject is exhaustive.

Ade: That’s complete Hogwash. I can bet it doesn’t!

John: How can you be so dismissively conclusive? You are yet to read the book after all.

Ade: I don’t need to read the book. For all I care, no one can write a comprehensive work on the concept of Scapegoatism.

………………………………………………………………………………………………
As the saying goes – different strokes for different folks. Although all men have the capacity to reason and process information, we do not perform these tasks alike. Our dispositions to ideas, news, and information are largely informed by our belief, culture, intellectual inclination, backgrounds, past experience and so on. Imagine a world where everyone believes every piece of information alike – such will surely be a boring and monotonous. 

There are folks who when fed a piece of information do not swallow them hook, line and sinker without corroborating the evidence. Interestingly, there are others who, no matter the evidences supplied, will not believe it just because it does not agree with their school of thought. One thing is common to all: on regular basis, they come across new ideas/information that challenge their existing school of thought. Their approach cum response to them is however different. Although the former has doubts concerning the plausibility of the information he comes across, he his open minded about verifying it in order to determine its authenticity. The latter on the other hand, from the onset, builds a defensive wall against the piece of information he comes across. He has an absolute and immutable doubt concerning the credibility of any new opinion.

  Let’s draw a line
Take the separate cases of conversations above as case in point. From their manner of responses, each party has expressed different ways of entertaining ideas – indeed, different outlooks or attitudes to life. Two distinct concepts and schools of thought are peculiar to each party: scepticism and cynicism. These two ‘isms’ are different ways of expressing doubts. While the former has a positive edge to it, the latter is has a permanently negative undertone to it. It’s therefore not healthy to find people confuse both concepts and mix them up. The mix up is however not surprising has many commentators on the distinct concepts only have a shallow knowledge of their dynamics. 

Scepticism

Scepticism according to Wiktionary is the practice or philosophy of being a sceptic and by extension a methodology that starts from a neutral standpoint and aims to acquire certainty through scientific or logical observation. One who requires strong evidence before accepting a claim is said to be a sceptic or to be sceptical. To be sceptical means to have reservations concerning ideas, information, and opinions. The term scepticism is derived from a Greek word “skeptikos” which means “to inquire” or “to find out”. 

A sceptic comes across a new piece of information. Although he does not take an absolute opinion of it, he his naturally inclined not to believe it at face value. He has his doubts as regards its validity but open minded about what truth he discovers about it upon due investigation. Just like the cynic, the sceptic has his doubts. He however addresses his doubts and is opened to possibilities. 

Scepticism is a refusal to believe without substantiation or thorough reasoning. Scepticism has an attachment to logos (an appeal to logic or reason). Sceptics are interested in intelligent thinking and proper consideration of things. Although they are often seen to find faults with new ideas, their disposition helps refine them, objectively analyse cases and follow things to a logical end.   The sceptic requires evidence before claims are accepted as fact. He does not accept claims based on the reputation of the person who makes it but makes evidences determine whether the claim is true or false.

Cynicism

Unlike scepticism, cynicism is basically a distrustful attitude. According to Wiktionary, it’s an emotion of jaded negativity or general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of other people. Cynicism is believing the worst of something or someone. Cynicism is about holding a permanent lack of belief concerning new ideas and opinions. The origin of the word cynicism is often credited to an ancient Greek fellow by the name of Antisthenes – a former student of Socrates. The man Antisthenes, due to a series of unfortunate experiences he went through developed a notorious scorn for human virtue. 

Cynics are disbelieving of any advice or information that they do not agree with. For instance, the cynic is indifferent to matters of climate change. Unlike the sceptic who requires empirical proofs to come to terms with the reality of climate change, evidences or proofs do not move the cynic. He believes the supposedly climate change campaign is merely a propaganda and those who tout it do so for selfish reasons and personal aggrandisement. To be cynical means taking a negative outlook and not disposed to accept evidences that surrounds a claim.     

A cynic count among toxic people

Kaleta is apt when he states that a cynics count among toxic people. They are usually hurt by pain of expectations and normalize their pain by destroying all enthusiasm around them thereby bringing everyone to the same level of unhappiness. A cynic is always prepared for the worst and is convinced that nobody does good without a selfish motive. When she is complemented, she thinks such complements are lame and insincere. The tone of a sceptic is often sarcastic, scornful and discouraging. Cynicism is a smartly concealed expression of impassiveness and hopelessness. Cynics readily supply negative/aggressive comments without being able or not caring to substantiate their claims.           

In most cases, scepticism is a positive approach to tackling new ideas, views, and information. It breaks down the wall of absolutism – a case of making things unequivocal. It makes a case for doubts that lead to the verification of the viability or otherwise of things. Such professions as law, programming and statistics, academics, journalism, editing and science require that one is professionally sceptical. In fact, scepticism is a crucial feature of scientific rational since science is all about using variables to analyse data with the aim of testing claims (hypothesis). 

Is a sceptic an “unbeliever”? No! He is just one that requires evidences/proofs to believe a claim. He his initially doubtful about things but not close-minded and subjective to discover its truth and align himself with it. However, while scepticism can be a positive tool, excessive scepticism (especially when not within the purview of ethical scepticism) can be harmful for social, political or spiritual growth. The cynic on the other hand exhibit a trait of perpetual distrust and lack of faith or hope in the turn of events. Cynicism is extreme scepticism and is always within the camps of pessimism, misanthropy, nihilism, fatalism, melancholia paranoia and worse still, dementia. While a sceptic is unwilling to believe without conclusive evidence, a cynic is in a perpetual state of mistrust and unwilling to consider any evidence.  

There is hope

One may wonder if a cynic is hopeless and can never get out of his pathetic condition. Well, no condition should be permanent if one is ready to change it. The first step to finding a solution is to realise that one has a problem. To get out of a seemingly hopeless cynic condition, the victim needs to get to admit that most times, he takes a default posture of negativity over circumstances. Once he genuinely admits to his problem, he can consciously begin to project a more positive attitude until it sticks. Actually, it takes more of not focusing on the negative and less of about the idea of concentrating on the positive. Since one will most likely attract the kind of people that shares one values, a cynic should work on cutting down on friends with the aura of constant negativity about them. Instead of maintaining a culture of apathy, he can begin to breed a culture of curiosity and embrace an analytical /critical mind set.                         

Thorin Klosowski gives an apt summary to the whole matter:

The line between being a cynic and having a critical sense is a close one. The more we look at things critically with an emotional detachment, the more likely we’ll be cynical about it.  

Image credit :GraniteGrok

©ayansolaibukun 

Lessons from Isaac 

Oftentime​s, when we read the stories of some biblical personages, we are quick to notice their shortcomings and pass judgements on them. We even make prayer pointsz of their lapses – asking God to help us not to make the same mistakes they made. The truth is while there are many whose lifestyle isn’t worthy of emulation, there are those from whom we can take a leaf. 
Isaac is one those personages. Remember Isaac, the son of father Abraham, God’s friend? Yes, he is the one I’m talking about. The man Isaac sets a commendable pattern for the people of today, especially in his journey to financial prosperity. 

Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year and hundred fold: and the Lord blessed him.

And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great. Exodus26:12-13  

You’ll find the passage above quoted among good folks each time they need to reinforce the fact that we can make it despite all odds or how that our needs can be adequately met in the midst of severe hardship. And of course, these assertions are perfectly true, as long as we play our part in the process. Thank God for biblical promises for it’s on them our hope and faith hinge. Sometimes we go through challenges that threaten our faith but whenever we remember God’s promises, our faith becomes renewed and our hopes lifted. However, as wonderful as those promises are, many fail to understand that we have a role to play and effort to put in in their fulfilment. For instance, any right thinking individual desires to be rich. But imagine what it will look like if we could all get rich by simply quoting the promises on financial prosperity.

To set the record straight, God desires that we prosper and have good success. Anyone who says otherwise is completely ignorant. God has nothing to gain from a man’s poverty. Actually, such a condition doesn’t glorify Him. However, as much as God will have us prosper, if we fail to in our own responsibility(ies), the consequent hardship won’t be His fault.

That said, we would turn the spotlight on our man Isaac and see what we can glean from him on his way to financial prosperity.

NOT A DADDY’S BOY

One of the observations made from the story of the so-called prodigal son was that he solely depended on the wealth of his father to make headway. Here is Isaac, the son of a prosperous man – perhaps the richest of his time. He could have decided to live on the abundance of his father’s wealth. After all, my father’s money is my money. However, Isaac chose to set out and make a life for himself. Yes, he had access to all that belongs to his father. Nevertheless, he would not settle for less. Rather, he aspired to take the part of honour and carve a niche for himself.

One of the reasons Solomon made a mess of his kingship was because he was never tested. Everything he needed had been provided for by his father. He simply basked in the euphoria of his father’s exploit. Would there be anything wrong with being born into affluence, absolutely not. After all, a goodly man lives an inheritance for his offspring. Problem however arises when a man builds his hope of financial prosperity only on inheritance. Clothe a pig in costly apparel and it will sooner soil it in the mud. We’ve had stories of men who rose on the wings of their inheritance. While few of them made the best of it, most of them made a mess of their inheritance. A man whose prosperity will endure will be one whose mettle can be tested.

EVEN AS A CHILD OF PROMISE… 

Right before Isaac was born, God had made a lot of promise concerning him and have even blessed him. Isaac knew about those promises and held on to them.

Two farmers each had a piece of land that they cleared for farming. One went further to cultivate and work on his, while trusting God to make his labour fruitful. The other farmer however went to his piece of land each day and quoted scriptures about fruitfulness over it without cultivating it. Which of the farmers do you think will have something to reap when the time for harvest comes? God is going to send the rain, but you need prepare your field. The moment the Israelites got to the land of Canaan – a land that was rich for farming – manna stopped falling from heaven. Although God has promised to bless us, he won’t pour down dollars from heaven. I’m baffled when I hear of folks who go to the mountain for weeks praying for blessing. How exactly you want God to perform the magic, I wonder. Promises and prophecies work only for those who take actions. Despite the abundance of blessings/promises over Issac’s life, he didn’t just sit in the comfort of his house and wish that ravens bring him supplies. Someone once said: for you to have financial blessing as though that’s all that matters and pray/trust God for blessings as though that’s all there is to it. We can liken that spiritual but lazy man to a student who only prays and claim promises but never picks his book to read – his failure is sure going to be epic.

EVERYONE GOES THROGH A PERIOD/SHADE OF FARMINE

Despite all the promises and blessings of God concerning him, Isaac experienced a time of famine in the land. Interestingly, his father Abraham also experienced it. Everyone goes through a period of famine so no one should himself up when he goes through one – the experience is not peculiar to anybody. Famine does not necessarily need to be about food scarcity: it comes in different shades. The most prevalent type in recent times would be of economic nature.  

Isaac didn’t waste time lamenting the economic situation of his time. Instead, he left his comfort zone and went out to get solutions to salvage the situation. Worrying never adds a penny to anyone’s account. If it does, I’ll make it my most effective skills. It’s not out of place to experience a spate of financial/economic hardship. It’s however an issue when a fellow experiences a famine/dearth of ideas. There is always a step to take in times of financial crises. The earlier one figures it out, the faster one emerges from the unpleasant experience.

WHY GO DOWN TO EGYPT?

A friend once told me the story of a man who sold all he had in order to travel to the states, only to be deported on getting to his destination. In recent times, the number of lives that waste away in the desert en route utopia is alarming. People do unthinkable things in a bid to seek greener pastures. Isaac was also on the verge of compromising in order to escape famine but for divine guidance. 

The truth of the matter is there is no rich place anywhere; there are only a large percentage of rich minds living there. The socioeconomic development of a place is limited to the activity or inactivity of its occupants. A desperate man is a man to run from. Financial prosperity is attained when a man adheres to certain life principles. Great men have lived in seemingly unfruitful places (towns/cities/countries) and turned things around for good there. Greatness in all ramifications starts with being in the right place (no matter the circumstance), discovering the opportunities it provides and tapping into them.

SEW SOMETHING FOR CHRISTSAKE

Two men purchased a piece of land apiece for farming. While one sewed seeds and worked on his, the other did nothing but hope for a bountiful harvest. One needs not be a rocket scientist to know who will have something to reap. Whenever we pray for God’s blessing, we should realise the fact that God will only bless the works of hands. The law of reaping and sewing is a natural law that cuts across board. If you don’t sew, you can’t reap. People are soon to forget that Isaac sewed in the land where there was famine. They simply point at the fact that he was blessed and became great in a land ravaged by famine. He didn’t just resign to fate or blame the government of his time for his predicament. There was famine in the land yet Isaac had a seed that he sewed. Many wants to become rich but don’t want to sew a seed. A seed can come in the form of a skill, a profession, a productive ability – any well-conceived effort put into a thing. The land only yields fruit for those who sew something. Famine – economic hardship, inflation, job scarcity, recession – is no excuse for anyone to be lazy or unproductive. Everyone has a seed to sew in a period of famine if only he looks within and tap into untapped resources. 

NEVER STOP DIGGING

There is something about a persistent person – doggedness: he is always steadfast despite difficulties and trying moments. Nothing good comes on a platter of gold. Sometimes we appreciate the value of a substance better when we’ve had to go through pains to acquire it. Isaac displayed the act of persistence in his quest to own a well. Each time he sunk a well and found water, foes would come and claim its ownership yet he never quit digging until he until Rehoboth. Many a men are too soon to give up on their goals and visions because of one limitation or the other. They conceive a business idea and get excited about it only to give in when they experience a setback. People who have made marks in their field of endeavour have at some point experienced though and trying times – they became what they became just because they refused to settle.

Image credit:Free Kingdom 

©ayansolaibukun