Blossom Nnodim is a Nigerian writer, master of ceremonies and social media enthusiast. Nnodim is passionate about the good inherent in social media, and she not only uses social media to create value, but also to spread good.
Global Voices caught up with Nnodim to discuss her #AdoptATweet campaign, the positive impact of social media, and the role of online platforms in Nigerian politics.
Nwachukwu Egbunike (NE): “Author, blogger, compère (MC).” That’s how you describe yourself! Can you tell us about the Blossom we don’t know about?
Blossom Nnodim (BN): The Blossom you do not know is one that is outwardly fearless but inwardly at a crossroad between doing what is right and what is expected from the society. She deliberately sees life as a “half filled” cup despite the fact the emptiness often time outweighs the fullness.
NE: You are the creator of #AdoptATweep, a social media and entrepreneurship project. What is it all about, how did it come about and what has been the story so far?
BN: The #AdoptATweep brand came out of a desire to create as many “overlords” as possible on Twitter. I joined Twitter actively after the existing “cabal” had already being formed. At this point I realized that most Nigerians tend to take Twitter validations serious either by way of retweets or follow-backs by an assumed overlord.
The real truth about coming up with the #AdoptATweep concept was to demystify the entire Twitter concept and make regular users become celebrity users in the shortest possible time.
Following the success of the first year, the concept naturally took on a more serious approach and it was at this point that the “Twitter-preneurship” focus of #AdoptATweep was explored and the focus shifted. More details can be found here.
NE: You are an advocate of Social Media for Social Good. Can you explain what this means?
BN: Social Good is an action that benefits society. This gives a somewhat non reaching definition especially with the invention of social media. As such, the striking word in the term “social good” is the social component, which aptly conveys the “shareable” aspect of the term. Social Media for Social Good means creating a positive societal impact using social media as a voice.
Anyone with access to technology, Internet, qwerty keyboard, etc. can organize an impact reaching campaign that has the possibility of benefiting the society. Social good is the process of using social media and social-focused communities to create a positive impact on our surrounding environment.
NE: There have been fears over Nigeria’s government ramping up of Internet surveillance and, most recently, failed attempt to gag netizens. What is your take on free speech and the Internet?
BN: There is a thin line between freedom of speech and hate speech. This line is not always clearly defined and as such netizens could in a bid to break the news inadvertently share updated that could tear down instead of building up.
The Internet surveillance bid and recent attempt to “gag” citizens at first glance may seem like an effrontery on freedom of speech. Deep down, the key focus is on false information. The only challenge is on the full explanation of what false information means. If the Federal Government [of Nigeria] is both the decider on what false information is and who becomes culpable in disseminating false information, the challenge could range from intimidation of the opposition to clear cut witch-hunting.
NE: Do you think the Nigerian blogosphere has the capacity to influence traditional media's news reporting, especially in matters of investigative journalism or seeking greater accountability from political leaders?
BN: It is sad to note that most traditional media platforms have allowed the narratives of the new media to shape and define their news reportage especially in the negative spectrum of professionalism. There are ethics and values that guide news reportage in the traditional media which is commonly lost by the qwerty hugging private citizen with access to internet and social media. What that conveys is that sedation is rife and unsubstantiated news is common with the social media and as such the traditional media should be more informed in news selection culled from the social media.
In summary, I believe the traditional media might have inadvertently allowed some of its core values to become eroded in the quest to keep up with the quickness and speed associated with the new media.
There are however, a few success stories where news trend in the new media have spiraled a more objective reportage by the traditional media.
NE: A large percentage of Nigerian youth are upward mobile, tech-savvy and vocal netizens. Do you think that these young netizens can propel the change that Nigerian needs?
BN: The large proportion of the yuppie generation is ideally passion driven with little or no concern for diplomacy and tact. The latter attributes are core ingredients in driving change. When passion is the only driver, what we see is a class of people that allow sentiments to rule their advocacy efforts.
I believe that if more young people focus on getting their facts right before embarking on any given campaign, the change that is expected will become inevitable. Secondly, young Nigerians should shed the entitlement mentality and make far reaching demands that even politicians cannot relegate to the background. What we see is a situation where politicians believe that they are doing young people a favor by making the special advisors and technical assistants. This may seem ideal in the short run but in the long run, we find out that several of such positions have little or no impact in policy shaping.
NE: The national electoral umpire just announced the schedule for the 2015 general elections in Nigeria. Do you think that social media will break new ground in the campaign and influence voting during this election?
BN: The power of social media will not be absolute if offline engagements are not put in place to ensure effectiveness of online campaigns. The extent social media will add value to the quality of the 2015 election will be determined by the offline actions ranging from voter registration, exercising franchise and field monitoring to ensure credible election process.
The outcome of an election is decided by the ballot box and not the update box of social media platforms.
NE: What do you think will be the future of the Nigerian blogosphere after the 2015 elections?
BN: I foresee a better sanitized reportage as most individual bloggers and social media users will ideally align with specific political parties. We will have folks leaning to affiliations not out of fear of walking solo but out of conviction that they are on the right track.
A two mega party system is actually what Nigeria needs and post-2015, we will have a better driven opposition that will be more focused on issues than on propaganda.
I like this statement: “The outcome of an election is decided by the ballot box and not the update box of social media platforms.”