Sleep is very important. I always look forward to being able to wind down after a long day with some reading while I drift off to sleep. My main problem since the advent of smart phones is the unreasonable people who delight in sharing the world’s woes with me at all times of the day and night.
I graduated from Law school in Abuja 17 years ago. It didn’t take me long to realise that I would never make a good criminal law lawyer as my over-active imagination meant that any horror stories/ cases encountered at work made its way home with me and took up residence in my mind while developing sub-plots. In short, I tended to re-live anything I saw or heard in my mind and my sense of recall was so sharp that I could replay such events in 5D!
I suppose I got it from my maternal uncle. After all these years, I only realised that we had this in common when he deleted Whatsapp from his phone and we could not send him messages via the application. When I asked my mum, she said my Uncle deleted Whatsapp because he found he was being tormented by the gruesome videos, alarmist messages and prophesies of doom that some people insisted on forwarding to him on a daily basis. My dear Uncle was a widower and lived by himself, all his kids had flown the nest.
What is it with some people’s obsession with gruesome videos and images? Someone sent me one where a mob somewhere in the East of Nigeria were preparing to set fire to a man who was caught with a child’s body in a suitcase. Please, why would I want to see that? I know there are evil people in the world, I know some people kill children and may God punish them for it. But why, oh why, would I want to watch a video of the poor dead child in the suitcase or watch another human being roasted to death?
Even as I write this I can recall the clothes on the poor dead child, the colours of his shirt and trousers, I can see the sandals on his feet and I watched this at least two years ago. We really don’t need to fill our minds with horrid images. Life is hard enough. My hubby got one of such videos on one of his recent visits to Lagos. He was so disturbed that he called me and described what he had just watched. A young lady had her legs severed when a container fell off the back of a truck on to her. She eventually bled to death and this was captured on video.
I was so shaken when he told me that I dreamt of seeing the legs being chopped off a few days later. My mind recreated the scene and I dreamt the container was grey, the lady was wearing green which turned black as she bled, and the people around her were all wearing blue and yellow. Of course my hubby confirmed that my imagination was totally different from the video but the damage was done. Once it got into my head it was as good as real.
We need to call the media to order too, as they delight in printing gory pictures without acknowledging that people find them very upsetting. During my last trip to Nigeria last December, I regretted buying a well-known newspaper. As I thumbed through its pages of congratulatory messages to little known-entities and solemn obituaries announcing the death of a great-grandmother at 97years old (killed by enemies who had succeeded in doing their worst), I came across a most disgusting picture of an armed robber who had been shot to death. Half of his head seemed missing and I almost threw up the galas I had gorged on shortly before.
Why would anyone want to see that?
Some people have a morbid fascination with tragic images and videos. They claim that they feel bad after viewing such images but they actually derive some sort of enjoyment from it. It is like watching a horror movie. Some people like to be terrorized in the movies but it’s not really happening to them. All they crave is the adrenaline rush and a heightened emotional state.
On the other hand, some people like me and my Uncle become anxious when we view such images. We don’t just think it, we actually visualize it. We have a lot of trouble seeing such images as we lock onto it and it’s hard for us to get rid of. It creates visual trauma and we can do without them. Someone just sent me a video about an hour ago about not walking with your back to traffic. I thought it was an educational video. I made the mistake of watching it and it showed a family of 4 children and their parents being crushed to pieces (literally) with body parts flying! I shouted in horror as I watched it at my desk at work. For goodness sake, I was going to send the video to my kids for road safety!
I need to sleep. I don’t want to be bombarded with the horrors of the world. I do my bit by praying for world peace. I don’t want to see the world going to pieces. So here’s my appeal to the de-sensitised people who don’t flinch at tragedies, who stand and stare and record human suffering and horrific accidents: please keep your videos to yourself. Don’t send it to me, don’t tag me, don’t send me the link to the website with the news.
This is a friendly request that will lead me to delete repeat offenders from all the social media platforms I use.
Finally, in my beloved childhood movie ‘The King and I’, I recall what the King said when Mrs Anna (the School teacher) said she was speechless. ‘When you do not know what to say, it is a time to be silent’. If you have no good news to share, please put your phone, tablet or laptop down. Stop sharing tragedies!
Abi Adeboyejo lives in Birmingham, UK, with her two children and her fabulous man, who by the way, prefers that his wife writes down her thoughts than listen to her musings on everything.