The introduction of the internet and its associate media opened the door to a greater number of the world’s population to have access to internet media such as Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Instagram among many others. These media are meant to promote the holistic social life of the individual hence like many countries, the use of social media leaves so much to be desired. Today, one would be tempted to say a powerful communications tool such as the social media has woefully fallen into the hands of people who do not have any knowledge of the critical importance and the associated dangers it poses. It has been observed with so much distress the growing trend among social media users to post pictures of the dead and their nakedness on social media platforms.
In Ghana, there have been a number of times when people’s nakedness have been captured and posted on the Internet by either ignorant or wicked people. Those, which easily come to mind, are the unpopular Amina case during which she was brutalised at Legon and perhaps the most recent one at Kejetia in Kumasi when a woman was stripped naked and molested by a mob. The latest is arguably the circulation of horrific images of the lynching of the young promising officer of the Ghana Armed Forces, Captain Maxwell Mahama. This demeaning and disgusting behaviour of posting and re-posting such images on the Internet to say the least, is inhuman and immoral as well as lack compassion for other human beings. Sadly, morality and decency as well as empathy do not matter at all any more to some people when it comes to the use of social media. Circumstances are such that people take pleasure taking pictures and recording videos with the mobile phones rather than assisting victims of accidents and mob attacks. The capturing of such incidents is perhaps good but only for police and other investigations. It is sad that some social media platforms have become photo albums of distressing images of the dead and their nakedness. At the sight of such, the first thing that comes to mind is the family of the deceased. What would they be going through, how would such images compound their grieve and pain?
According to experts, certainly some people are emotionally fragile and children who see these images are traumatised. When Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia visited the family of the late Captain Mahama to commiserate with them, the deceased grandfather expressed grave concern about the social media images of his lynching and death and appealed to the government to help do something about it if possible. This is where the Internet companies should join hands with other authorities to find means of regulating activities on their various platforms. We have heard of people who died just at the receipt of the news of the death of a loved one. It therefore matters how such devastating news is delivered to those affected to avoid further loss of life. And social media is certainly not the best way to deliver such news to family members or friends.
Posting pictures of the dead on social media therefore has the potential to hinder families and friends from putting closure to the death of loved ones. This is because these images tend to serve as constant reminders to the loss and pain. There is no doubt that nobody would display horrific pictures of victims of mob action or accidents in their homes or even offices without anyone questioning their state of mind. So, then, why should we not question the soundness of mind of those who do so, on social media platforms? The media and the National Commission for Civic Education have a daunting task to help educate the populace on this. Government could also start thinking about how to make it an offence to post or circulate such images as done elsewhere. Unfortunately most people are guilty of this. It is sad that even health workers who are bound by professional ethics have been said to be behind some of the graphic pictures taken on hospital deathbeds and posted on social media. Two main issues are important here the dignity and respect for the dead or the individual victim of molestation, and the incurring emotional trauma of colleagues. Let decency and love prevail.
BY: NANA SIFA TWUM, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT – LONDON-UK.