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Movie stars have feelings too!

Remember That Time When Celebs Turned #BringBackOurGirls Into a Reality Show?

We witnessed the ugliness of trending at its infancy

When the Chibok Schoolgirls were kidnapped from their dormitories in the dead of night almost four years ago — the news of their mishap spread like wildfire — all over the globe.

It was almost unfathomable that more than 200 students could disappear without a trace under the leadership of an incompetent Head of State — who despite his nice smile and temperate disposition — which was a refreshing change of pace — was utterly and embarrassingly helpless when it came to conquering the destructive path of the Nigerian-based terrorist cell — Boko Haram.

As #BringBackOurGirls began to trend overnight — I got my first taste of what it means to be associated with the mechanics of viral content — and how being a part of such a thing can mess with your head in ways that evoke our very worst tendencies.

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You got that right

I wrote a piece soon after the Girls went missing and basically shattered the hopes and prayers of concerned observers by dishing out the dirt on my country — and explaining how direly easy it was for a rebellious group of thugs — parading under the guise of Islam — to infiltrate the Northern region with deadly intentions — without the threat of punishment by the Nigerian government.

I titled the piece — “Nigeria Won’t Bring Back The Missing Girls” — and once it was published — it became clear that the blunt and authoritative tone was capturing major attention — across the board. Nigerian readers were torn between accepting or rejecting my critical attack and non-Nigerians were fascinated by my “no-bullshit” approach to an issue that was fast becoming the social event of the year.

Back in 2014 — I was still quite naive about the potency of social media and the potentially lucrative benefits of “going viral.” And so when the numbers game began and I witnessed my well-received testimony being shared with rapid enthusiasm by friends and strangers — there was a level of accomplishment that gripped me as I gauged how thoughtfully compacted words could be the passport to instant notoriety.

As I was figuring out how to leverage the attention from fans while remaining faithful to the cause of strategizing justice for the innocent lives that were forever changed — I was also drawn to the unquenchable thirst of the mass media as a result of a hashtag that had become much bigger than the subjects that had inspired it.

As the worldwide hysteria over the Chibok girls gained momentum — so did the desire to capitalize on the fiesta of activism that may have started out with genuinely humble motives — but quickly evolved into the shit show of the decade as the shameless adulation for what was supposed to be the humanitarian anthem to unite us — began the era of righteous narcissism.

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Why?!

The misfortune of the Nigerian girls turned into stylized photoshoots that were staged all around the world by notables — who couldn’t resist posing for the cause. From the splendor of the Cannes Film Festival to the intimate abode of supermodels — the most watched reality show ever to hit the web did very little to incite the level of urgency for a chaotic situation that was still categorized as “code red.”

No better venue to be heard than the steps of an over-indulgent film festival

#BringBackOurGirls — did a lot more than publicly shame President Goodluck Jonathan and his cabinet of woefully incompetent subordinates — it also demonstrated the ugliness of trending — at its infancy.

Based on the results that are forever ingrained in the imagery of smiling celebs —happily holding signs that should illicit sorrowful tears — we can’t downplay the relevance of that movement — and how we failed to uphold the dignity of a much deeper message. We preferred the easy way out by carelessly celebrating the worth of a hashtag that contained more than just the entrance into a full blown rave.

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Entertainment reporters doing their best impressions

Can we ever fathom that treatment being extended to the #MeToo or Time’s Up initiative?

Even at this very moment — Nigeria is dealing with another school abduction that journalists are dubbing “the new Chibok” — due to the stark similarities between both tragedies. This time Boko Haram targeted a town called Dapchi in the northern State of Yobi — and about 110 girls are missing — (although there’s reason to believe there are hundreds more).

In this updated scenario — we have a former president who was re-elected to the job he fucked up back in the mid-eighties. Muhammadu Buhari defeated Jonathan back in 2015 and his winning monologue echoed his commitment to make Nigeria safe again — by disabling the terrorists that seemed to be far more formidable and better equipped for battle.

It’s been almost thee years — and the only thing that’s changed is the realization that the climate of fear and death is definitely more heightened. The president’s issued response calls the latest incident — “a national disaster” as he sends his empathy to the inconsolable families of the missing girls — but so far there’s no evidence of a brilliantly-conceived retaliation that could end with a happy reconciliation.

As Nigeria remains in the same limbo that has plagued the nation since the colonialists left us the mess of a lifetime — we have to pay homage to how much we’ve matured since that time celebs turned the missing schoolgirls fiasco of 2014 — into a damn reality show.

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I’m doing this for…

We were clearly in the learning stages of hashtag fandom — and grossly misinterpreted the language of engagement as it pertains to fighting for the lives that matter as opposed to fighting for the attention of our lives.

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We can have fun and demand justice — all at the same time!

The seduction of social media has always been the lack of a rule book — which encourages the rapturous freedom of running amok in a landscape that was built to keep us mentally lost and blissfully out of touch. We can disappear for hours in a world that doesn’t exist — but accepts your willingness to take tons of selfies — minutes after giving birth — or boob shots with the imprint — #BringBackOurGirls — providing ample nipple coverage.

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Even supermodels know when to behave

In 2018 — the response to a global outrage can’t ever replicate the societal mishandling of a hashtag that travelled too far too soon without the compass of best laid plans or the thorough respect of a real-life crisis that shouldn’t have been reduced to a viral gameshow.

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She wins “most authentic”

It was an ugly reception for an even uglier event — and the sad part is that we have the pics to prove it.

Written by

Juggling Wordsmith. I have a lot to say! https://medium.com/membership https://www.patreon.com/Ezziegirl

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