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Tweets suggest need for public awareness of African Internet

December 8, 2010  »  WebNo Comment

Tweets within Africa empower; Tweets about Africa from the outside sometimes do not. {}

Twitter provides individuals from all walks of life to communicate in a public forum. Twitter Search is a powerful tool that saves the past 6 days of tweets and allows users to browse on keyword or hashtag. Of course, we must remember that tweets are often intended as offhand/pithy/poorly constructed remarks to friends. As such, the speaker may not actually agree with what he or she just tweeted. Instead, the tweet may serve more to someone’s emotional appeal.

Regardless, most comments on Africa’s Internet are positive, engaging, or simply re-tweets of news stories. However, a small portion come across as ignorant and touch on stereotypes of Africa.  An assortment are examined below – usernames have been withheld to protect the innocent:

A mix of good and bad. Yes, life without Internet is arguably worse than life with Internet, and yes, some people have Internet in Africa, but the language (ie. the “i think haha”) at the end is worrisome:

haha, life without internet would be horrible D; some people in africa have internet? i think haha”

Internet and Twitter are present in Africa and can be found in many areas:

if i lived in Africa my life would suck more than internet, no twitter!”

Perhaps this individual had a bad experience using the Internet in Africa, but the Internet can in fact work for more than 5 min:

Dear #internet: Stop acting like we’re in #Africa again, and work for more than five minutes straight.”

Better to keep this one to yourself. Internet in Africa is undeniably looking up:

Internet in africa is f***ed”

Perhaps the most humorous comment out there, this one reminds us not to take our connection speeds for granted. To be fair, however, there are children in Africa with broadband (and children in the U.S. with no Internet at all):

Stop complaining about your internet connection. Don’t you know there are children in Africa with dial-up?”

Power is undoubtedly one of the largest factors inhibiting widespread ICT development in Africa. Still, the second phrase serves no good:

Power cut, no lights tv or internet. A taste of africa

Africa is in the process of overcoming these stereotypes, but can misinformed non-Africans overcome their cursory judgments? Hopefully a greater media presence in Africa can combat the global lack of information. Or, maybe the inter-mingling of cultures online can smooth out the discontinuity in perception. It takes a certain level of maturity to realize that Africa consists of more than just villages and nature.

In fact, one Twitter user recently responded to someone’s suggestion that he not have modern communications technology in Africa by saying:

And yes we hv (sic) cellphones & internet – no animals roaming around lol”

Perhaps one good sign is that Africans can take the comments in stride.