We have come to a stage where we cannot do without using social media, just like we cannot do without a mobile phone. These are the tools that give people in all parts of the world the freedom to communicate anytime and say what ever they want, barring any contexts.
However, the advent of the internet and particularly social media has come with its own pros and cons, with the increase in flaming being a disturbing phenomenon.
Simply put, flaming is a hostile online interaction that involves insulting messages or flames, between users. Flaming may occur in the context of internet forums, chat rooms,A� social networks and game lobbies, where there is a mix of people with differing ideologies from different cultures.
Flaming is also known as bashing, a technique used by bullies and when that happens, people no longer engage in a meaningful discussion. Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan MoyoA� revealed this week that he has been a victim of flaming.
Writing on his Facebook page early this week, the minister said he received a lot of a�?crude insultsa�? on his inbox, but hang on, he said: a�?Ia��m cool with thata�?. He said the majority of the messages were about the disappearance ofA�A� journalist and activist Itai Dzamara, who was allegedly abducted in Harare recently, and the feud over Maleme Farm in Matobo, Matabeleland South, which, however, has since been solved by the Government.
The other issues were over the announcement that the farm that houses Cyrene High School, just outside Bulawayo has been gazetted forA� land redistribution, amid concerns that the school might close. And the minister was bold in declaring that the school was safe.
a�?Ita��s been a hectic week for all of us. There were issues galore on the menu of the week. I spent virtually all week responding to hundreds of msgs (sic) in my inbox. And I mean hundreds! Many, in fact most, of them were crude insults: some over Itai Dzamara, others over Maleme Farm, others over Cyrene High School, others over Zimbabwea��s expulsion by Fifa from the 2018 World Cup, etc, etc. I suppose those who inboxed me insults believe they are making a point. Perhaps they indeed are and thata��s why I felt it necessary to respond. Of course there were other msgs which were not insults but they were few and far between.
a�?It seems to me that when a person gets moved to the point of posting an insult into the inbox of another person, there must be some intended communication value of that insult. After a whole week of reading the insults that were sent my way, Ia��ve come out with the distinct feeling that some compatriots out there have a lot of anger that they want to get out of their chests. It is neither good nor healthy for the peoplea��s chests to be full of anger. As such, I think it is a blessing in disguise that my inbox was turned into some kind of a a�?angera�? box by some angry compatriots who were keen to offload volatile stuff in their chests. a�?Ia��m cool with that.a�?
However, the minister said it was important for people to debate ideas and not insult each other.
a�?We dona��t have to exchange insults to prove that we belong to different political parties or that we have differences. That is a given. We need to explore the a�?ungivena�? and maybe we will find each other somewhere there.a�?
a�?And now to the issue of the week. After public outrage following media reports the other week that Cyrene High School had been taken over by a new farmer who had been allocated the farm that hosts the school, there have been some positive inquiries in my inbox on whether a school can be acquired by a new farmer who has been allocated a farm where the school is located. The answer is No! Cyrene High School is and shall remain safe and protected regardless of what happens to the farm where it is located. Social infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and clinics cannot be legally allocated along with the farm to a new farmer.a�?
The minister was also kind enough, despite the insults he received, to attach a self-explanatory policy explanation relating to land issued by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.