I noticed something during the lockdown that was both hilarious and appalling: many of our young men and women have turned into digital beggars. I don’t know if this was happening before but I just noticed it anyway.
The social media platform that I discovered this development in was Twitter. Then, I noticed that Nigerian youths tell influential and wealthy people to do “giveaway” for them. It got so bad that some of them dropped their bank account details as comments to these people’s posts. Some went as far as telling people to stop disturbing the public with the analysis of the country’s economy and do “giveaway”. This may sound funny, but it is also embarrassing and annoying.
Still on Twitter, I also noticed that some individuals, especially politicians, put up derogatory posts about their opponents and then tell youths to re-tweet their posts and stand the chance of winning monetary prizes. Some may ask these youths to guess who was described in the post in order to win the prize. Nigerian youths do not disappoint here because they come in their thousands to scramble for this money (usually five thousand naira and below).
Some people may not see anything wrong with this begging of a thing but when they remember that the youths in question focused more on asking for money than in picking up the message behind the posts, they will understand why the act should be discouraged. Apart from losing focus, this attitude makes our youths look hungry and lazy. They make themselves look cheap. In fact, it says a lot of wrong things about them.
Another style of begging I’ve noticed is that people record and post videos, where they describe pathetic situations in their lives in order to arouse pity and monetary donations from the public. I usually feel for people that release these videos but from what I can see, not all of them really needed help; some just wanted to raise money from the public. There was the case of a woman that was helped by a social media influencer to raise money for her child’s surgery. According to this influencer, she raised about three million naira for this supposed surgery and handed the money to the child’s mother. But then, the child got better without the surgery and so the money wasn’t used again. A few weeks later, a couple that needed financial assistance to foot their child’s medical bills approached this influencer. The influencer reached out to the first woman and asked that she donate two hundred thousand naira for this child from the three million naira raised for her. Can you believe that this woman told the influencer off, claiming that the money was meant for her family and nobody else? After several disturbances and threats to get the law involved, the woman revealed that she used the money to buy land and a car. This thing actually happened sometime in August this year. And yes, it happened in Nigeria.
Well, I am not totally against digital begging because, sometimes, those that truly need help find it through social media. In those days people go to television houses and worship centres to ask for help. But today, social media has proved to be the best place for that. Even people in developed countries also raise funds for the needy through social media. But then, the thing is actually getting out of hand. People are abusing it.
The case of the woman, who claimed her child needed surgery, shows the extent people can go to in order to “cheat”. One of my friends used to argue that people that brought themselves out to beg have tangible reasons to do so, but it is obvious that such is not always the case. Some people are shamelessly coming out to deceive people into helping them.
The problem that is created by all these false digital beggars is that they close doors for those that really needed help. For instance, this woman that used her sick child to obtain money from the public has blocked the way for the other person that truly needed help. It was probably difficult for this influencer to raise money from the public again and so she resorted to asking one of her beneficiaries to help. Now imagine in a situation where a person that truly needed help was called bluff because of experiences people had from charlatans? This is why there is need to discourage these phoney beggars.
It is hard to tell how to discourage these impostors; but these social media influencers they usually approach should validate the information given to them before reaching out to the public. They should always remember that people make donations most times because they trusted them. They should do their bests to maintain that trust.
As for the Nigerian youths that beg for “giveaways”, they need to understand that they are dragging our names on the mud.