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The Cliques of Twitter and Social Kampala

“The bad thing about cliques is . . . we’re not going to get dissenting views, and that’s the kind of information you need for factual judgments.” – Martin Kaplan

A BBC feature on The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser brought to our knowledge that “… users are seeing their own world view reflected online.”

The idea of the filter bubble is that we do not process new information favourably. We are comfortable with things that agree with our already established views. It seemed it was something restricted to sites like Google, and Facebook but being online on Twitter long enough makes you realise there’s a similar manifestation on that platform.

It’s almost daily that while on the streets of Twitter you find not one, but several users demanding a “tweef”. And in the spirit of Twitter, every once in a while there are very graphic exchanges of slur on this social media platform. One thing is clear though, a look from afar will show that usually the spears being exchanged as words are between different groups. Alignments. Tribes.

Twitter is Clique-land. Where you pick a side or die. It’s a land of “I belong to so and so’s group therefore I will spur them on when any of the members are in a fight.” There’s a whole “Tuli Majje” thing going on on this platform. It might be an ideology, a political party, a sex, a race, a tribe, a nation, generally it seems like people get onto Twitter with some desire to belong outside the boundaries of thought and reason.

It’s not a safe space at all. It is a place where opinions are constantly being judged and users being corrected and put in “their place”. An innocent comment about running in the morning can become an all out war on whether fitness reports online are for showing off or keeping record. Jokes are always being measured for their offensive factor.

And it is clear that when a group becomes large enough, they stop to reason altogether or to listen and their word becomes truth. When several members of the group are retweeting, hearting and quoting tweets they agree with, it may seem to the casual observer that indeed this is the truth. It’s a little world of “us” and no one can say anything about that.

Truth be told though, we need differing opinions and the grace to not ostracise people because of these opinions.

Before Donald Trump was elected president of the United States of America, and even after, there was a group of users who in the beginning convinced themselves it was impossible for America to have a Trump for president. After the elections, the barrage goes on about his every decision. It’s akin to the previous elections where tensions got so heightened, relationships were severed on political lines.

Sadly these cliques do not stay online. In this new age of hashtags, cliques go offline, into public spaces. They may be a travelling clique, a personality clique, an ideology clique, a book club clique, an arts gallery clique, a blogging clique etc. Yes, you are probably in a clique. You find that in a city like Kampala, social events are attended according to online hashtags/cliques. So the feminists go to particular events, the “we are not the bad Christian types” go to certain events, the “we are too old for jokes” go for certain events, and the list goes on.

I have noticed, for example, particular events have “pushers” of a particular hashtag. There are never new faces. It seems as if the cliques are comfortable with their memberships and showing up is a sign of loyalty.

You wonder whether people attend events for the merit of the event or because of the clique. Back to Twitter, you wonder whether people get into conversations because of the conversation or because of the persons who have started the conversation. The days of vacuum tweets are gone. Now, every tweet must mean something, support something, oppose something, promote something. It cannot merely be a tweet.

I don’t know whether the weather is causing all this division, bringing out all these opinions, this dirty linen but damn, sometimes its too much. Everyone’s busy being woke, we are all ending up with red eyes. We are all forgetting how to smile (except in our cliques), we are all becoming too militant for life. It’s a world of “if they are not with us, they are against us”. Why are we assuming sides?

This is in no way a post that tries to step on people’s freedoms of expression or assembly. It’s just a post that’s saying, why are we cliqueing? Can’t we all just get along? Or this is a human condition and we are okay with it?

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2 thoughts on “The Cliques of Twitter and Social Kampala

  1. Well put piece like the Guardians of the Galaxy and Parliament picture impressions.

    Its a human condition that translates into the social (media) engineering. Big Sean rapped on Control: “I’m over nigg*s saying they’re the hottest nigg*s /Then run to the hottest nigg*s just to stay hot” So the traction of who has the buzz Identified by the #Hastagg is summed in those lines.

    He actually continued by saying ” I’m one of the hottest, because I flame drop; drop fire” Twitter makes many feel like this. I have had my friends telling me of a tweep we both never met but has their time line buzzing often times and we have a conversation that gets odd: WHY? She and I seem to take up that world and after the buzz is off we forget about the tweep.

    Twitter in 09 – 11 ( I kept forgetting passwords) was to a great level natural appreciation of communication. Discussions came naturally. The world was fast but not fast enough to enjoy it. Lately I don’t enjoy those twitter(con)Versations.

    We are live extremely!

  2. Please write an article about online gambling in Uganda. Where people can find safe sites to bet on. African Betting Guide is very good they guide everyone to safety.

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