Ghana once again faced a tragic moment in its history when gas exploded at a filling station near the Trade Fair Centre, leaving scores of persons’ dead and others with degrees of burns.
Reports have it that there were six dead and about twelve injured in the accident that took place around 6 p.m. on Thursday at Louis Gas Station at Labadi in Accra.
Property running into thousands of Cedis have been lost to the fire.
It is unfortunate that, with just a couple of days to Christmas and the relief from election tension that engulfed the nation during the election period, the nation has to go through such an agonizing moment.
Messages of condolence and sympathy have come from the President, President-elect, other personalities and identifiable groups to the families and victims of the incident.
The incident once again brings to the fore the amount of precautionary measures put in place to forestall the occurrence of such incidents.
The nation has laws that govern the siting of fuel and gas stations to ensure safety of workers and customers of such companies.
There are regulations and people put in authority to ensure that prospective businesses in that sector are well positioned to insulate innocent people from being exposed to such dangers.
As we all lament over the deaths and injuries and sympathize with those affected, it remains to know if someone failed to carry out their duties well, leading to what has been experienced.
As time passes, so is it likely that this incident would pass without any punitive or preemptive action being taken.
This is very pathetic.
On the other hand, whilst pondering over the painful loss, something amazing happened that depicts a negative attitude some Ghanaians have developed in the wake of the social media craze that has become a canker to be checked.
Whilst people were busily making efforts to save victims from the inferno, there were some callous persons around the area, taking pictures and posting them on social media such as Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, among others to the admiration of their followers and friends.
Though there was nothing wrong with sharing pictures of accidents and other tragic events on social media, the sheer lack of respect for victims of such incidents and the nature of some of the pictures splashed on these media call for some attention.
Many Ghanaians were horrified at the nature of the pictures splashed emotionlessly on such platforms without caution or discretionary notice to viewers and wondered if those behind such acts truly understand what it means. Some people had to chase agonizing victims to get shots of them going through the traumatizing experience.
In some of the instances, videos of people going through very traumatic experiences during the fire outbreak were posted shamelessly on such media, leaving decent Ghanaians in utmost awe.
This is not the first time such a thing is happening, as numerous cases abound of people posting pictures and videos of victims who deserve no publicity whatsoever of their state but rather sympathy and getting sympathy for them could be done without necessarily showing gory pictures of their state.
Recently, there was a picture of a bleeding accident victim taking a picture of himself (selfie) at the accident spot to be posted on social media.
In such a situation one wonders what could have motivated the victim to take such a picture when he should be considering how to get out of the problem to even help others.
What makes it even more annoying is the way such videos and pictures are liked and commented on by those who should be condemning them; the liking and comments serve as a booster to the perpetrators, hence the propensity to do it.
This incident is bringing to the fore the issue of social media regulation and its effect on the security of the nation following the debate over whether to ban it on election day or not.
In this regard, it has moved from the regulatory realm to its effects on our time-tested morals and values that frown on some of the things being flagrantly done on social media platforms.
Some years back, nudity was considered a taboo among the youth and those found exposing or being exposed to nude pictures were drastically dealt with by the elderly ones.
Our traditional media never allowed their platforms to be used in any way to propagate such morally-unacceptable pictures.
Today, the trend has changed and the things considered taboo have become so fashionable that, those who don’t follow such fashions are considered outmoded.
This is compelling the youth to devise some means to belong so they are not left out or behind by their peers.
Contents exposed on social media these days leave the youth at high risk of being corrupted and pushed into some social vices with serious repercussions for the nation. Our future is at risk.
Ghanaians are well known for their hospitable nature and disposition to sympathize with people in trauma of some pains.
This is seen in the way we all rally to the aid of those mourning or suffering from sickness.
That social sympathy is a quality that distinguishes us from many other people or cultures.
When accidents occur on our roads, Ghanaians can be trusted to quickly get the victim into a vehicle to be transported to the hospital for immediate care.
It is after the condition of the victim is stabilized that their relatives are contacted to continue with the healing process.
Why has this value disappeared all of a sudden? Why has social media taken away the sense of sympathy and respect for privacy of people in pain? Have we lost our morals and values to technology?
These questions would continue to linger in the minds and on the lips of the older generations, who still hold on to the same old values that made Ghana a place to be.
This has nothing to do with whether they were Born Before Computer (BBC) as the younger generations prefer calling the older generations who migrated into the technological age, as against those known as Technological natives.
Enforcing morality and values on social media is a herculean task for the authorities and parents, some of who do not have knowledge of or access to such mediums to be able to monitor what their wards are exposed to.
However, constant training at home and practical demonstration of such morals and values, would in no small way, instill them in this generation.
Exposing people in pain in order to win the accolade of being the first to have seen it or to have the footage is neither here nor there.
There was a case of the paparazzi who happened to arrive on the scene of the accident that killed the Princess Diana, former Princess of Wales in 1997.
The cameramen decided to film the incident instead of taking part in the rescue process.
They were severely condemned for failing to go to the aid of a dying victim but rather choosing to take exclusive shots.
The police had to push the paparazzi away to be able to carry out their duty and all these happened at a time Princess Diana was still alive.
If they had been morally humane at that time, they might have saved a precious life.
That was the level of insensitivity of the paparazzi at that time.
Today our craze for exclusivity on social media is blinding us to time-tested and highly-respected values that sustained the older generations and gave them hope and security.
Today, the trend has changed and it wouldn’t be long when people would rush to look for the camera phone to snap a drowning person instead of a rope.
This attitude must change now before it becomes a norm among the youth of today.
Social media is for socialization; it is to keep us connected to help each other but not a tool to steal our morality and values.
We all need to grow from this anti-social behavior on social media to make our platforms more profitable.
BY RUTH ABLA ADJORLOLO-A JOURNALIST