Michael Asiwaju, a popular Lagos businessman was accused of rape by a Twitter user, @thatgoddess__ on the 12th of January. He reacted swiftly by posting sex clips and nude pictures to prove it was all consensual. He tweets about committing suicide and got dragged by some tweeps asking him to at least give out his iPhone charger before dying. He commits suicide less 24 hours later.
This is one of the numerous effect of Twitter troll. Suicide!
We troll and abuse strangers on the internet, take the screenshot to share it elsewhere so people will cheer us up as savages. We think online trolls are funny, they get us more shares and retweet at the expense of others.
Even Asiwaju was himself an online troll, an asshole who choose to resolve his rape allegations on Twitter by openly shaming the women involved.
In defence to the rape allegations, Asiwaju posted a couple of sex clips to prove it was all consensual, and photos of ladies who should be held responsible for his death. In less than a day after the allegation, it was reported 6 days later by Punch that Asiwaju had commited suicide in his hotel room.
The internet wasn’t aware of the suicide until 6 days later and during this period, he was all over the internet as a serial rapist.
Inasmuch as we can’t actually prove if he was guilty or not. Why was almost everyone comfortable talking about and sharing memes of Asiwaju as a serial rapist even though the only evidence against him was a chat between an undisclosed girl and @thatgoddess__?
Here is a thing. Everybody wants to say something funny in less than 280 characters. This is not the case of faceless monsters staring at their screen all day looking for trouble and getting people depressed on the internet. This is about you and me feasting on the fragile emotions of others for a fav or retweet.
Twitter trends tend to promote mob action as a lot of people are quick to jump into trending discussions. They do this most times not because they have anything reasonable to contribute but because they want their opinion to be heard, behind this is the ambition to someday become an influencer, and they don’t mind being toxic and resorting to cyberbullying to achieve this.
All these are happening because most our experiences on the internet feels private and anonymous especially for a platform like Twitter. People feel comfortable saying and doing things they may never say or do in real life. Because they think they can easily deactivate their account at any point things get messy.
Maybe this is point where we reflect upon our usage of the internet and how it affects everyone around us. To value people over the likes and retweets we get from feasting on their emotions and to see people not as text on the screen but as flesh and blood.
Today it is Asiwaju, tomorrow it could be you.