DEFY tells the story of the fictional senior politician Honorable David whose discovery of the perks of social media leads him to want to enjoy them with disregard to the harms it can bring to the society if abused.
The film aims to raise awareness and facilitate dialogue about how we can work together in our communities to address the dangers brought about by misuse of social media.
The people of South Sudan share the rest of the world’s interest in social media, and it is not unique to them that they sometimes use social media to fuel hate along ethnic lines in the young nation’s three-and-a-half-year-old civil war by posting inciting content online that may have in one way or another fuelled the conflict.
The Nairobi Audience at the first screening of the film was very enthralled by the short film and this was very clear from their reviews and opinions on it.
The audience agreed that hate is both online and offline but it is easier to propagate hate online in this age of social media. There is a gap in the need to advise people on how to use and consume social media. It doesn’t matter how you are, the education level social media awareness is relevant for every demographic.
Policymakers around the globe are grappling with streamlining the practices and regulations governing social media use to clearly define what constitutes ethical and unethical use of social media. With these rules, social media consumers will be disciplined on how they use social media since there are consequences on unethical use of social media. Citizen journalism is here to stay hence there is need to ensure these checks are in place. Our journalists also need to be professional and ethical in their delivery of information and have personal checks and integrity that ensures the information they share is factual.
There was a general acceptance amongst the audience that there are positives of social media and that it shouldn’t be banned. The South Sudanese social media users in the diaspora need to be wary of group-based rhetoric that divides the country and as that further drives the causes loss of lives and displacement of people and loss of income sources.
Hate rhetoric isn’t capsuled on social media; it spills out into daily life that was evidenced by the film causing panic, disruption, loss of income and even loss of lives. There was also a strong feeling of how young people are letting themselves be the vehicles through which hate is delivered. Young people need to be engaged in productive activities that will not leave them vulnerable to exploitation.
Instead of engaging in hate speech matches on social media one can engage in preaching peace. The audience was also very aware that tribal prejudices fuelled hate among the citizens. One of the attendees said, “I look forward to the day we will embrace our ethnicities and drop the tribal prejudices associated with our different tribes. We need to be able to tolerate each other before we can dream of a peaceful coexistence.”
As citizens and consumers of news and information, we need to be wary of tribal extremists who fuel hate speech. We also need to careful of the snippets of information we listen to or read as sometimes a portion of their speeches is picked apart and taken completely taken out of context and people get agitated before they get the proper message.
According to the audience people say or share things on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other online platforms for various reasons among them popularity, as a form of release and healing or in an effort to inform which sometimes is misconstrued. The general feeling from the attendees was since there are very few forums in which people can air their opinions in South Sudan they turn to social media as it is easily available. We, therefore, need to be very proactive in the ways we use social media. There need to be forums for expression and dialogue because as the country heals there is a need for an environment for cohesive existence with an expression of grievances and self-representation.
The film is twenty-six minutes long which felt very short for everyone who attended. When it ended there was an air of “Wait that’s it?”