Since 1902

Social media is fuelling ethnicity

In the olden days, we had newspapers whose publication, distribution and marketing was shrouded in secrecy. These newspapers, dubbed gutter press, were considered illegal.

Fast forward to 2016 and gutter press is back with us - stronger than ever. Only that this time round it is not illegal.

The current social media craze has provided a forum for bloggers to feed Kenyans on propaganda, half-truths, gossip and other mundane conversations.

There is an emerging trend where anyone who can create a Facebook post and attract more than twenty comments and a dozen of likes is called a blogger.

But what worries me most is this habit of mainstream media paying attention to the so-called bloggers.

Even worse, mainstream media has in the past, used video clips uploaded on Facebook pages of these bloggers without verifying their authenticity.

This habit has put to question some of the news reported.

Call me old fashioned but I am yet to discard my stand that social media cannot replace traditional media.

Yes, there could be a number of people out there who like reading social media updates but there are equally many Kenyans who rely on traditional media for credible news.

That explains why despite the implosion of social media, no media house has reported a drastic drop in sales of newspapers.

Bloggers news reaches readers in their raw form. This is why when one commentator argued that bloggers will soon take over our literary scene; I asked myself to what extent has social media helped shape discourse on key national matters?

I feel social media has worked to further entrench ethnicity. The argument that blogging is a better forum because it provides immediate feedback is misplaced.

Any intelligent conversation must be a product of rational thinking. Debate between literary bigwigs cannot be executed through hash tags.

Further, social media has sidelined those who present complex but important opinions. Serious political, economical and social issues cannot be realised through likes, hash tags and many comments.

Hence bloggers cannot be relied upon to inform and educate society on important matters.