Social media is an indicator of contemporary thought, mindset

Author, Nicholas Sengoba. PHOTO/FILE/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • A society that lives large by begging is a weak society for he who pays the piper calls the tune.

With the advancement of smartphones and filters to enhance graphic features to the desired settings, many apps are dominated by photos of young people showing off their beauty, dreams and material achievements.
There are enduring ‘complaints’, jokes and all manner of ridiculous anecdotes about ‘stingy men.’

The ones who don’t provide transport money, buy anniversary presents, and give their girlfriends money to attach artificial hair and nails on their heads and fingers or even pay for junk food, at every opportunity.

There was even a joke of a girlfriend who sulked because she was not given a gift to mark World Food Day!

To be anyone one will have to have the latest gadgets, car, branded clothes and the like. Weddings, funerals, birthday christening functions etc must all be done with pomp and splendor which may include live streaming. Then there are all these new functions like ‘gender reveal,’ where an expectant mother tells her best friends forever (BFF) the sex of the baby.

One may follow that up with a baby shower. In the competitive setting every function has to be different. So it may be held in Uganda in a hotel or on a hired boat on Lake Victoria or even in Dubai. It all depends on what one desires to spend. We basically create situations where we must spend. Apparently, there is nothing wrong with all this for we only live once.

Trouble is that many seem to assume that someone else will have to foot the bill for their costly habits. The notion of living within your means or working to pay for your pleasures is alien. Since ours is mainly a young population it may be safely said we are breeding a highly consuming society that does not relate this to gainful employment and as such has developed a misguided sense of entitlement.

So we have now devised means of bridging that gap. You beg out rightly albeit in a diplomatic way. That is how we have all these real life situations beyond social media where people request for some ‘ka little’ money to solve daily requirements like airtime, data, fuel and the like.

If not you position yourself as an aggressive leech sending your innocent circle into guilt tips.  I once visited a Ugandan in Europe who was very stressed. He showed me piles of letters from the relatives and friends he left in Uganda. They complained about how he had left them to suffer, starve and die in the corrupt dictatorship at home. Yet he was busy enjoying himself. They demanded for school, hospital, wedding, and dowry dues.

Some were for a second or third wife. They wanted money for rent, plus new clothes. Some cursed him and warned him never to attend their funeral if they died without him sending money or else their angry spirits would haunt and kill him. One or two found him guilty of arrogance because he did not attend the christening ceremony of their daughter where he had been suggested as a god father. He even didn’t fund the function, so it flopped!

Our man in Europe had a dream of working his soles off doing everything he could lay his hands on and invest back home. The people at home had other ideas. They saw him as the hunter they had sent to the land of milk and honey to pay for their pleasures. He fell into a terrible depression and died!

Those without relatives in ‘outside countries’ will borrow, steal or sell their family silver to maintain this high spending status. The ones who are too proud to beg or have completed the whole circuit of relatives, friends, strangers and colleagues will contemplate suicide as they stare at a dead end.

Occasionally when there is no provider, young people will pour their frustrations out on social media about stingy men and unreliable friends. The one complaining may not have a record of ever providing for others. Ironically it at times gets to the beggar’s head to the extent that they have the cheek to say that they don’t like broke friends without cars or houses, things they themselves do not own.

In a sense we have all learnt this lifestyle from the government and the state - no wonder politicians cynically remind us that we are the government.

Almost nothing happens without the donors. This includes the cars, allowances and other expenses to match opulent lifestyles. Sometimes a road will not be built because the donors have not kept their promise.

Societies that live like that are lying to themselves because begging to maintain a lifestyle has never been sustainable. Those who donate or pay their bills will dominate them with enslaving terms and conditions which sinks them further down into the abyss of powerlessness.

Unfortunately we have justified this into our culture. That society has to look out for everyone even when the one they are looking out for is motivated by infantile thoughts. This contradicts all the ideas we hold about going to school to become independent and self-reliant so that we become useful and make a positive contribution to society. For the women who celebrate International Women’s Day today, it is claimed that begging is a ‘gender thing’. Women were meant to ‘be given’ by men so they have a right to be bitter when their needs are not addressed.

How then does one stand up after this and talk about independence and equality?
We may ask the same for our independent countries in the global sphere. From where do we get the audacity to ask for a seat on the United Nations Security Council when we can’t feed, clothe and keep our people from disease?

A society that lives large by begging is a weak society for he who pays the piper calls the tune. If women and men are to be taken seriously about their independence and equal status in society, they should as much as possible desist from taking pride in begging and cut their coat according to their cloth. Happy Women’s Day.

Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues
Twitter: @nsengoba

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