Social Media and the Mandela Madness

The week before last, the world we live in bore witness to a tragedy. The loss of a truly great human being. However, enough is enough.

The week before last, the world we live in bore witness to a tragedy. The loss of a truly great human being. However, enough is enough.

It is not the media who I begrudge for overkilling Mandela's death. It is my own network of Twitter twerps, Facebook fiends and Instagram idlers. Here we have a collection of people (often the very same using various platforms) who demonstrate a blood curdling, 'jump on the bandwagon' spontaneity.

I do not know how many more, "RIP Madiba, you changed my life,' type-statuses I can tolerate without losing my nerve. People professing their gratitude to a man, whom until recently, they knew very little of. 'What did he do,' I ask my fifteen-year-old cousin, who suddenly had much to thank of this man. 'He stopped Apartheid didn't he?' 'And what was apartheid?' 'You know, when blacks and whites were separated.'

This base of superficial knowledge is simply inadequate. I actually found the fact #Madiba was trending as an insult to the great man. Mandela was a man who spent a lifetime reading and educating himself on all the great political leaders before him. To imply his posthumous resurrection in fame comes on the back of millions exercising such a polar application of research, is tantamount to disrespect.

Instead of seeking public validation, I paid my respects privately. I didn't feel the urge to show how empathetic and profound I could be. Rather, I watched the news, read the papers and attempted to appreciate the actual effect Mandela has had on my life world. To gauge such a feat is extremely difficult; not least because the results of his political campaigning benefitted two generations before me. As a result, one is left to think abstractly.

Perhaps the United States wouldn't have a black president? Perhaps the commonwealth would look profoundly different to how it does today? In reality, I am not really sure, purely because, I am (admittedly) insufficiently educated on the role Nelson Mandela played in this world.

When I was at school, a decade ago, History classes mainly consisted of both World Wars, a touch of Vietnam and a brush of the Cold War. Perhaps you go to university to study what is termed, 'modern politics.' Yet on the basis of this last week; a world in mourning, tears reigning palpably from each continent, perhaps Nelson Mandela's story is due for the classrooms.

The Holocaust Education Trust was set up ensure schools in the UK retain Nazi Germany in the curriculum. The idea being that by learning of such atrocities, we ensure it never happens again. Far from being a cynic, I admire such work as much as I know of its futility. History does and will always repeat itself.

Nevertheless, Nelson Mandela's death has the power to do so much good. Counterintuitive as this may sound, think about it. People are really starting to think about racial segregation and discrimination again. Let us use his story, educate ourselves in the broader issues, and converse through social media only when we have completed such diligence. Uploading vacuous #Madiba statuses in a perfunctory manner helps nobody.

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