Strong and bold online, weak and timid on the outside, the typical internet warrior exudes contradictory qualities in both realities he Iives in. But he is useful. In the physical universe where humans commune with other humans physically, he has nothing to say but in the virtual online universe created by technology and science, he is often a hero, an activist, a freedom fighter willing to die for numerous causes he believes in. He knows the solution to bad governance and he is willing to involve in the uproot. He knows why Africa’s dreams have been nightmares and the exact way to fine tune the unconscious for more meaningful dreams. Online, he is a lion and fears no one but in the real world he is the rat running from the cat that runs a small part of the house.
He looks at Shi’a Muslims butchered by brutish Nigerian soldiers and sees evil but outside, in the confines of familiar and anti Shi’a folks, he speaks of the giant vice in blocking the roads and pelting the Almighty Nigerian Army with stones. The internet warrior speaks toughness on the cyberspace but exudes timid ideas outside. That young lady who speaks of feminism and classlessness but wouldn’t date a poor guy simply because the man should take care of his family’s financial needs is an internet warrior. The man who comes online to pray to God, to appear good and holy to religious folks, but wouldn’t do same in the physical world is also an internet warrior.
The guy who respects every gender online but disdains a particular sex in the real world is an internet warrior. Even the ones who disdain all gender on the internet but suck up to one in the real world is also one. Being an internet warrior has to do with inconsistencies in two different worlds. The one who sees the ills in certain aspects of the African culture and voices out online, but offline behave differently is also an internet warrior. While it is a situation created by either cowardice and tact or both, it seems to have potentials for something better. Conscious creations happen when internet warriors rant and a look at the next level of that conscious creation speaks of so much hope. I don’t mean Buhari’s Next Level with potentials for more hardship.
A certain Deji was arrested for protesting online and protesting in the real world. He exposed the government’s poor handling of the Nigerian state on the virtual reality and as if that was not enough to put off their shine, his placards in his physical protests questioned the neutrality of the Nigerian Police in government. He was right because the Nigerian Police has shown partisanship in their dealings and the President seems to be enjoying the show. You see, he was first an internet warrior and then he became a street activist. He was first an eHero but now he is a civil rights hero. He was just ranting online but now, irrespective of what happens or is said, his actions in the real world were heroic.
Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, once ordered the arrest of an eHero because he questioned his position on peace. The small man couldn’t grasp what the online activist was trying to reach with his rants and he called for his arrest. Recently, the online branch of the Nigerian Army threatened to deal with propagators of the false narrative and ‘doctored’ video released by Boko Haram. Trust Nigeria’s Twitter citizens, the army received insults in return and no arrest has been recorded. Maybe they will add that to the strings of punishments and abuse they mete on Nigerians when they use the roads.
The point is, the internet warrior is very useful. The arrest by the Kaduna State governor and Deji has shown that words matter. Fighting civil rights wars online matter and should be encouraged. It is not the finished goods but it is in a processing department. The blogs online, like mortalpoet and other websites know that what we read has a lot of influence in our way of life. Books are treated in the same manner but reading books is one thing, implementing what they say is another. Internet warriors raise their consciousness and those of their readers and friends online and offline. Protesting online may be timid or seen to be but it is the first step in curing timidity.
What do you think will happen over a decade of Nigerians raising each others consciousness, creating a huge gap between truth and fear? Like now, there are so many Nigerians who think that men of the Nigerian army have the right to treat them how they deem fit and this is because we have not raised conscious level high enough, we have not educated enough and now that more of the population is online, a rise in the number of positive internet warriors will change the narrative and the outlook consequently. What if many of us see the black skin as just a cover for the dermis and not the reason for the underdevelopment of Africa?
What if our conscious levels appreciate feminism and not the chauvinism flying online? Irrespective of the behavior of the current preachers, preaching and knowing the right sermon wouldn’t hurt us, and will reduce the burden both sides inflict on each other to please a backward ideology. What we don’t want is an internet warrior with a poverty mind because notwithstanding the message preached, it grows fonder with repetition. The government knows that raising awareness and educating the masses online will surely affect their illegal dealings and they employ the oldest control tool known to man—fear, to shut people up.
If more people talk about an injustice online, some people will surely talk about it offline. If some people talk about it offline, more than the population of those who talked about online will talk about it offline. Disdain and contempt build up and these take us to the next level. Mobilizing protests or protesting becomes easy because many minds are similar. The trick in despotic systems is to make sure the minds are never one, to make sure the injustice is seen as a minority’s problem and gradually spread it in this minority fashion to everyone. Then create and promote fake news online by creating their own internet warriors. We can see that happening now. The internet is now a battleground and whoever wins the war conquers Nigeria.