Internet, Netizens and Nascent Cupidity

by SOC Okenwa

Post-modernism has apparently dawned on us in the 21st century! We’ve got today, literally speaking, post-modern presidents and post-modern dictators, post-modern democracy and post-modern tyranny! We have post-modern doctors and post-modern marabouts, post-modern scientists and post-modern doom-sayers; post-modern preachers and post-modern Imams, post-modern Christians and post-modern Luciferians, the anti-Christ.

We’ve got post-modern crimes and criminals and post-modern fraud and fraudsters; post-modern poverty and post-modern opulence. There are post-modern athletes and post-modern entertainers, post-modern thinkers and post-modern writers. There are out there post-modern builders and post-modern wreckers as well, post-modern homosexuals and post-modern heterosexuals. The list is inexhaustible but let’s proceed in good measure.

Since education will forever govern ignorance (apology to the late James Madison) we’re reminded, again and again, of the Biblical lamentation which alludes to the generational fact that man, in his quest for dominance, ‘perish’ for lack of knowledge! What emerges, therefore, could be linked to the limitations in the modern man’s capacity for reason and need to be above board. Alas, we’re witnessing degeneration in moral values — aided and abetted, as it were, by the inventions of man to help his kind become a better sophisticated omnivorous animal!

And one hastens to add, for purposes of emphasis, that one of these unique powerful inventions happens to be the Internet! Those who invented the Internet must have had other ideas than the use to which it is being negatively subjected today. Through the Internet good things could happen quite alright — for example, research, distant relationship and easy community networking. But through it one naïve enough to ‘buy’ into a fairy tale of millions and billions stolen by the African incontinent dictators, living or dead, could have his life-savings ‘drained’ by roaming professional scammers.

The advent of the Internet has, indeed, revolutionalized our world for good or otherwise. We’re now living unapologetically in a new world of digital opportunities and possibilities far beyond the imagination of those who refuse to grow or see reality in its naked form. The Internet remains definitively and internationally one of the greatest manifestations of man’s mundane ingenuity. Today, with the Internet the world has become more and more a global village with interconnected ‘villagers’ found even in the remotest corner of the planet. The Internet is full of possibilities; it has many good sides but it equally has the very opposite, the negatives.

The Internet is furthering the cause of a buzzing IT revolution in the world. It’s today challenging long-held dogmas, isms and schisms; it has forced an open world in its unorthodoxy — one in which secrets are revealed and lies curtailed; it has the potentials of imposing a global order of its own, one in which the force of arms are relegated to the background with the force of knowledge prevailing majestically! It is effortlessly defining and re-defining our world, producing some knock-on effects whose reverberation are heard around the world: be they in politics, e-commerce, e-banking, academia, entertainment and what have you.

The Internet could ‘imprison’ one or make one free; it could provide companionship but it can also destroy psychologically and physiologically. The Internet, in its utterly uncensored state, shatters taboos hitherto held sacrosanct; it demystifies mysteries and myths! It’s the friend of all, rich and poor, and enemy of none; it plays the rule-less game of no-holds-barred, stretching our capacity for the impossible, one becoming possible! The Internet challenges our daily existence throwing up the unknown and discovering new unexplored territories. It provides a robust platform for liberation struggles but it remains a haven, all the same, for scoundrels.

The Internet panders to no primordial sentiments, tearing down the walls of differences in creed, colour and tongues. It is the quintessential modern school of life that respects no hierarchy but obeys every demand. The Internet unites peoples across boundaries, challenging the entrenched culture of silence in many a country. It is the nemesis of oppressors but provides comfort and hope for the oppressed! This global dot com phenomenon does not discriminate; discrimination, in all intents and purposes, does not exist in its brave world.

The Internet is steadily pushing forward the frontiers of knowledge and liberty favouring the cross-fertilisation of ideas beyond our immediate environment. It is home for anonymity but welcomes identity and address. The Internet is a money-making machine but it could well constitute a veritable source of bankruptcy (read ‘419’!). The Internet is history in the making but it’s also an encyclopaedia. It can’t die but keeps record of the dead and the living! It provides avenue for taming boredom even if it’s boring sometimes!

The Internet is a vast employer of labour but it could as well lead to one losing a job when, say, a frustrated boss deems it inappropriate one’s too much engagement with the keyboard. It could make distant marriages happen; linking people of diverse backgrounds together, but it could also be a source of marital conflict and subsequent divorce!

The Internet saves lives spectacularly (as exemplified by some generous solicited or unsolicited charity donations to some medical and/or academic causes) but it kills crudely as well. A young beautiful undergraduate damsel from ‘Wazobialand’ — the only daughter of her family whose breadwinner was a retired General — was recently lured from her location by her supposed Facebook friends to a big jungle of a commercial city (whose aquatic splendour is legendary) and savagely beaten, drugged, dispossessed, gang-raped and strangled to death in a hotel room!

Today it’s not surprising to see teenagers practicing truancy and others absconding from school only to go to cyber outlets in town to play poker, play video games, watch pornographic materials and chat with those outside their continent and country. The worst ‘product’ of the Internet happens to be “blue films” loaded from many sources and downloadable for free; it represents the most of negatives in the net and smacks of moral decadence!

We live, in the present circumstance, dangerously, in a world morally polarised. Daily, we’re wittingly or unwittingly engaged in a ‘war’ between what’s noble and ignoble; the forces of good are constantly in conflict with the forces of evil provoking a backlash that the inhabitants of the globe (pigmentation notwithstanding) absorb for whatever it’s worth. Now, as mankind navigates the modern jungle (the planet-earth we know better) bequeathed unto us by Providence we’re challenged by factors human: man’s inhumanity to man, wickedness in high and low places, principalities and powers, poverty, war, injustice and ignorance.

So as civilisation evolves taking in more victims and throwing up more nouveaux richés we are confronted with two possibilities: remaining ‘sane’ in a world where insanity can no longer be defined expressly to be manifestly associated with pure madness but one linked to certain behaviour antithetical to the human health — talk about excessive consumption of alcohol, frolicking with girls, partying, doing drugs and playing pool online. The other possibility that presents itself happens to be laziness in which case decent way of earning a living becomes an anachronism that must be jettisoned for other cheaper means of making money.

And when such money realised (from cooking up stories and engaging in outright mendacity) is the ‘cursed’ one — ‘l’argent maudit’ — then trouble is ignited. Have you become a millionaire overnight without any demonstrable source of livelihood? Are you sleeping soundly at night, out of reach of the dark forces? Do you ‘fight’ with your conscience on a daily bas

is over recriminations? Are you a member of the generation of light engaged in a daily mortal combat with the generation of darkness?

The world is worse off in this lowering of moral rectitude across the globe. Children of these days, happy to be born in an era of monumental human development in all spheres, are being corrupted and confused by capitalism and freedom. Given this social phenomenon ‘sins’ are being committed with responsibility missing! Friendships are being struck, contacts exchanged, sometimes across the borders, without any hint of scruples. Money is being worshipped and hedonism in full blast!

Today, one dare say that this generation of ‘jet-age’ children, netizens et al, are ‘immersing’ themselves in vices alien to the time of their parents’ adulthood. Pity! Cherished ideals are exiting our universe and welcome, therefore, debauchery!

The interesting story I’m about to tell — for it bears introducing — involved two friends by name Gado and Dago. Gado, 18, alias ‘Freek’, was a student and Dago, 17, alias ‘Garcon’, was also a college student. They met in school and became friends but the friendship became more intense because of the interest or passion they both shared in common in the Internet. Let’s simply dub them, then, as “le deux broutteur amateur” (the two amateur scammers).

The young boys loved life and liked living it big beyond their means and generation. ‘L’argent facile’ (easy money) is of course sweet when tasted and to continue enjoying same a degree of ‘hardwork’ must be invested in whatever one does in this very regard. But on the other hand, since money is good but remains the root of all evil, misfortune could be associated with the quest to maintain a certain comfort guaranteed by this desire to belong to the new generation that see the so-called ‘fast lane’ of life as the best there is.

The incredibly odd news was all over town — in gossip magazines, bars and maquis; and the witnesses confirmed it to be real and true. One terrible weekend in a popular night club downtown a ‘big boy’ named Sergio belonging to the new generation of netizen-scammers was said to have excused himself from his friends, drinking themselves to stupor all night long in company of young girls of different shapes and sizes, to ease himself in the loo of the club at wee hours of the night. Seconds gave way to minutes and minutes approaching half an hour mark yet Sergio was still in the toilet prompting concerned questions leading to ‘Freek’ deciding curiously to see what was happening inside.

As ‘Freek’ opened the toilet door he was shocked beyond words to see his dear friend vomitting crispy notes of the local currency while his ‘biological banana’ dangled outside his unzipped jeans trousers! He raised alarm by inviting over the other friends (including ‘Garcon’) who equally witnessed the bizarre production of minted notes emanating from the mouth of the local fraudster who had paid for the drinks they were all drinking. When they called out Sergio to inquire if all was well he answered in the affirmative ordering them to close back the door. But a hard look thrown towards his abnormal blood-shot eyes became a source of mortal worry to his friends who refused to abandon him to his fate — all alone!

Though initially afraid to intervene as Sergio was still vomitting some more legal tenders effortlessly the friends soon overcame their fears by launching themselves onto the scattered spewed bank notes on the ground. Soon a fight ensued as to who got more and who got less; it degenerated and empty bottles were used freely as weapons! M-o-n-e-y! Patrolling team of policemen were drafted to the rowdy scene. Meanwhile the belaboured money-spewer was still holed up in the toilet spewing some more relentlessly. When the police went in they could not react because what was going on went beyond immediate comprehension and defied the law as it were. It was simply put a mystery that defied immediate analysis! But the law enforcement agents arrested those fighting over the vomitted notes — confiscating same for investigation purposes.

Few minutes later as the policemen went back inside the toilet after some semblance of order was restored outside they were astonished to see the lifeless collapsed body of Sergio lying atop countless heap of notes of different denominations! A closer look revealed some blood dripping from his nostrils with his tongue protruded! Initially the state agents could not reach a consensus of what to make of or do with the situation, a seeming novelty in their professional careers. But they summoned enough courage all the same and called for an ambulance — unsure if Sergio was dead or alive. He was confirmed dead on arrival at a medical facility!

Just hours after regaining their freedom from the police detention overnight Freek and Garcon gathered as usual with other friends in an open restaurant under huge trees where they normally eat rice and chicken pepper soup with some bottles of beer. They were still in some ‘mourning’ mood though having lost one of their own, Sergio. But Sergio was not the first to die among their friends. Just some months back prior to the Sergio money-spinning demise in a weirdly-dramatic circumstance tragedy had struck outside a strip club late in the night as Garcon, Freek and other friends (including now late Sergio) were smoking outside, tipsy, awaiting signal for united tedious home-going.

Suddenly a ‘foreign’ call came in and Mani took it believing it to be from one of his ‘mugus’ abroad. He grinned before picking it up, happy that another international money transfer had happened as was always the case. But it was not the wired money as expected; no one among the circle of friends knew what was going on as Mani spoke out angrily. In the middle of the communication, still demonstrating inexplicable rage by gesticulating, Mani ran out, as someone siezed abruptly by an unknown dark force would, racing towards the expressway adjacent to where the naked-dancing erotic club was based.

As Freek, Garcon and others contemplated amid amazement what was going on all they could hear next was a loud bang emanating from the direction to which Mani was headed. Behold, upon enquiry, Mani laid helpless on the ground gasping for breath as blood gushed out from multiple body injuries! A car on motion, one in high speed, had just hit him out of nowhere with the car and the driver nowhere to be found! Before anyone could offer any help to Mani his body started turning black like charcoal! Minutes later before an ambulance could arrive Mani’s body had mysteriously turned to ashes! Freek, Garcon and the others wept as the gory spectacle reminded them of a terrible ‘pact’ signed with a god.

The demonic ‘accord’ was one that guaranteed steady flow of foreign cash, one that made financial breakthrough possible but it came with a price tag attached to it! The price to pay for this instant richness was one of blood; of death and hell! Having known the satanic consequencies of their diabolical quest for wealth Freek and Garcon had no other choice than to wait patiently for their own ‘turn’ to die violently and keep a date with the Hades! When one was in the know that his days were numbered having been ‘enjoying’ the fruit of sorrow it was difficult to imagine what went through that mind, that conscience compromised!

But how did these young boys get to this fix, this perilous journey of no (safe) return? Well, living in a modern Sodom and Gomorrah Africana, a country reputed for good life and night life made possible by modest infrastructural ‘revolution’ realised by the late founding father of their nation: round-the-clock power supply, conspicuous consumption, good network of roads, sound heath care facilities and affordable quality food, any one not guided properly by responsible parents could derail and mortgage his/her destiny if only to settle a perceived score with poverty.

When you throw the penetrating influence of the Internet into the mix what you’re likely to get is though

tless actions and decisions reached by teenagers and youngsters with little or no parental guidance. And if you add peer pressure, youthful exuberance and cupidity to that, then, there are souls out there willing to be ‘bought’. And conscience willing to be ‘sold’ in equal measure! Cupidity could be dangerous and when the cupid instincts in us are not tamed early enough breaking banks with lethal objects could be seen to be legal!

As Garcon and Freek ruminated over the evil fate that had befallen their late friends a gossip newspaper was brought along by another friend. In the headlines it was reported that a 21-year old ‘brutteur’ in another side of town had been arrested by the special anti-fraud police as he coldly killed a 4-year old and drank his blood! The police, upon interrogation, according to the weekly, discovered that the cyber criminal was having sleepless nights as he was tormented by forces he could not control. The dark forces gave him an option if he desired to live and sleep at night again: he must ‘sacrifice’ a boy and drink his blood if the time remaining for him to live here with the living could be extended by few months! The culprit in question had confessed this chilling state of affairs behaving abnormally in police station as he screamed for clemency, telling the cops that he was a ‘victim’ of evil forces with whom he had ‘signed’ a pact for acquisition of wealth!

With their late scamster colleagues Freek and Garcon were led by a man they had met to a dreaded marabout somewhere in the hinterland. They had explained to the man what they had wanted and the man had agreed to take them to a place where their mundane problems would be solved satisfactorily. Arriving there they waited patiently for the old man to emerge. And minutes later, the marabout hobbled towards their direction; he wasted no time telling them why they were in his shrine and his ability to send down the Dollars and Euros for their eternal comfort! Behold an iron-clad assurance had been given, re-assuring the fortune hunters that they had reached the last ‘bus-stop’ of life-transforming vicissitude.

With some bell tolling from an unseen place nearby the ‘juju’ priest, decked in red flowing gown, shoved some raffia laced with white, blue and red feathers (obviously to instil some psychological fear in his ‘victims’) into his maw entertaining seconds of cold silence! Momentarily, there was a graveyard kind of silence which the professional voodoo agent only broke in the neighbourhood of two minutes by muttering some inaudible words — ostensibly to invoke the spirits of his dark kingdom. And spelling out the options and conditions available from which the fortune seekers must make individual choices the kolanut-chewing ritualist demonstrated his capacity to do evil.

The first option happened to be “love with a mad woman”. The person choosing this one must make love continuously to a roaming certified mad woman until she was put in a family way! The second had to do with “sleeping in the cemetery”. That is, you must sleep in the graveyard for three consecutive nights! And the third meant “cutting off a finger”. This option would see the person involved having one of his fingers chopped off with the wound never healing! And the fourth, the most bizarre, involved sleeping without food or water inside a locked room with a cock for three days! When the third day came forth you would be ‘released’ with the cork and once outside a corn would be brought forward and the grains would be poured out on the ground with the cork, very hungry for food after three days’ ‘detention’ without any, released to feast on them! Whatever number of grain(s) the cork left over represented the remaining years you would live here on earth! Chilling, isn’t it?

After hearing attentively the choices before them each and everyone of them made an individual choice! Whilst the late Sergio went for the first option the equally late Mani decided to go for the second. The third option fell on Garcon as choice while Freek settled for the last. Sergio died after impregnating the mad woman! Mani also kicked the bucket months after completing his own ‘assignment’ of sleeping with the dead in their hallowed resting place. Garcon was still nursing his ‘missing’ mutilated finger covered with plaster which itched him terribly at night! And Freek was ‘lucky’ as the cork had ‘graciously’ remained just six grains out of the whole removed from the maize. So six years he must live here with the living!

In all these adventures in the world of the unknown the four boys made big money through Internet scam and credit card schemes. They bought cars and changed their wardrobes almost weekly. They had the best of damsels and celebrated loudly in cozy bars and nightclubs in the city where Deejays sang their names and praises as they doled out wads of foreign and local currencies! They had fun all night-long and never slept at home at night! But when their lifestyles were contrasted with the stark reality and compromised destiny that awaited them the word vanity became apt indeed!

C’est bien une nouvelle monde bizarre de l’internet et d’argent maudit. (It’s indeed a new bizzare world of the Internet and the cursed money). C’est suffisamment grave la realite aujourd’hui! (It’s grave enough the reality today!) Mais en tout cas nous nous somme condamné a vivre avec ca. (But in any case we’re condemned to live with it).

In the final analysis, the conclusion that may be drawn (given the backdrop of the lesson(s) learnt) in this situation of positivism and negativism, past and present, is that the Internet revolution and evolution has three distinctive worlds embedded in one: the world of the victor and the vanquished, that of triumph and trial, and one of dreams and nightmares! The wholly amoral cum fiendish trajectory of Freek, Garcon and their late friends ought to be seen as one of those lessons. The general ubiquitous mood is, perhaps, captured better in my native Igbo language: “Ndi n’ochi, Ndi n’akwa!” (While some are crying others are laughing!).

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