How Hilda Baci Becomes an ANT

How Hilda Baci Becomes an ANT

It is no longer news that Hilda Effiong Bassey has surpassed India’s Rewa Lata Tondon, who cooked meals for 87 hours and 45 minutes, with her “longest cooking marathon by an individual” of over 100 hours. At least on different media platforms and in physical settings across the world, people have celebrated her and are still appreciating her efforts. But according to our analyst, many people have not heard of how Nigerian netizens on Twitter have turned her into an ANT, which they have been cliquing with their sting messages with the intention of capturing socioeconomic and political benefits from.

In this piece, our analyst uses actor-network theory (ANT), which proposes that both human and non-human actors form networks that shape social reality, to critically assess several tweets that used her name to achieve the stated benefits. According to our analysis, a number of the tweets had topics that were not connected with the cooking competition. For instance, some businesses leveraged her competition for the promotion of their goods and services, while some tweets were embedded with various political issues as well as ideologies. While businesses seem to use her competition to construct expected value identities for their brands, our analyst discovered that netizens with an interest in expressing political views and their ideological orientations directly and indirectly constructed positive identities for the political actors they supported and negative identities for the actors they did not.

Hybrid Identity Construction

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ANT suggests that actors in a network are interconnected and mutually construct each other’s identities. In the context of the tweets, the unrelated topics and the people and organisations mentioned within them suggest a contribution to the hybrid identity construction of those actors. For example, Bola Ahmed Tinubu is mentioned alongside Hilda Baci’s name in some tweets, creating a hybrid identity for both. This suggests that Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu is in support of Hilda Baci’s achievement, and Hilda Baci is seen as connected to Tinubu’s political sphere. This hybrid identity construction is formed through the network of associations created within the tweets.

Non-Human Actor Influence

ANT emphasises the agency of non-human actors in shaping social reality. In the tweets, non-human actors include hashtags, emojis, and pictures that were used to construct the identities of the people and organisations mentioned. For instance, the users who employed #PrayForBnxn or #BBTitians aimed at shaping the identities of the individuals associated with the hashtags. The inclusion of these non-human actors aligns the mentioned individuals with specific communities or interests, potentially influencing how they are perceived and constructing their identity within those contexts.

Translation and Mediation

According to ANT, actors translate and mediate between different elements within a network, influencing the meanings and relationships between them. In the context of the tweets, the users serve as mediators by linking unrelated topics and individuals through their mentions. By mentioning Hilda Baci alongside unrelated topics or individuals, the users engage in a process of translation. They create connections and associations between these elements, which can potentially influence how people perceive the identities of the mentioned individuals and organisations. This translation and mediation shape the narrative and context in which these actors are positioned.

Our analyst notes that the use of ANT provides an opportunity to know how Nigerians through Twitter have constructed identities that enliven brands and demonstrate how the medium could be used for reenacting socio-political issues for collective deliberation while celebrating ‘a collective achievement.’

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