By Emmanuel Utibe
In this age of information and global digital connection, it’s without saying that social media is one of those things which comes to form a huge chunk of what social interactions human beings should have. Social media, because of its reach and interconnected nature, is like a nectar that calls out to the human ‘bees’ from different reaches of the earth. It is in this that several organizations and communities set out to create their own little colonies and establish a presence on these spaces.
The University of Ibadan as an organization and UITES as members have their various “colonies” on several popular social media spaces and depending on the social media, these colonies are shaped differently. We would be taking a delve into looking at the popular social media and what colonies the UI communities have created for themselves on there.
WhatsApp; a Home for All
Given the nature of WhatsApp as a social media with its instant messaging and close-circle community, it’s no surprise that WhatsApp serves as the main social media base for UI communities. Almost any form of community in UI that can be thought of, has its close circuit space on WhatsApp in form of various WhatsApp groups. There are also the big accounts with lots of status viewers who serve as WhatsApp TV.
Although it should be noted, that there have been attempts for various general groups to be created for the whole UI community. For example, the World of UITES group, the UI inter-hall update group, and the like. However, these groups have come to serve more as a UI marketplace for her “studentpreneurs” than an actual space for meaningful interaction.
Can we do better for our community interactions here? With what WhatsApp offers, there is only so much that can be done and I would say that all of what can be done is currently being done.
Facebook; Home for Prospective UITES
On Facebook, communities are not separated from each other and so there are easily large communities. It is no surprise that at the height of Facebook’s popularity, it had some of the largest and most active UI communities and it was increasingly easy for prospective UI applicants to also find communities for themselves and also integrate gradually into the larger UI communities. It is no surprise that even today, most undergraduates looking to gain a UI admission turn to Facebook to find the community.
While the UI community on Facebook is still one of the most active and interactive UI communities on any social media, the decline in the popularity of Facebook increasingly these days has led to a decline in that also. So, what we have these days are UI prospects who get on communities on Facebook but then get shipped from Facebook to WhatsApp, either just before their admission or after admission. Facebook now just serves as a home just before you get into UI after which you would be transplanted from the nursery to the main home on WhatsApp. With the activity and broad interactions on Facebook, the loss of those communities would be a dent on UITES social presence.
Twitter; Far from Home
Twitter, a home for savage replies and banging memes. It is a stormy water and also a place where arguably the highest form of intellectual conversation on the social space are held. Twitter like Facebook also give room for communities of various size and so you could have communities as big as Naija Twitter for the whole of the country or even as small as your Twitter circle of friends. This potential for large communities coupled with the affinity for intellectual and social debates has made sure that as Twitter’s popularity in Nigeria went up, more people got on and many students and their communities got on the train too. On Twitter, you have OAU Twitter, UNIILORIN Twitter, UNILAG Twitter, LASU Twitter, and UI Twitter among others.
UI Twitter unlike other student communities like OAU Twitter or UNILAG Twitter has the distinctive feature of being highly segmented in terms of community interaction. Unlike others where there are usually interactions that cut across the whole community as a rule of thumb; what can be called UI Twitter is rather a colloid of various individuals and their immediate close circles like it’s obtainable back at home WhatsApp. So, on UI Twitter what you have is the UI medical Twitter, UI law Twitter and all the rest and each of these smaller communities like the colloid they are, never mix in well. Aside from this segmented nature of the UI community on Twitter what you also have is the relative inactivity of UI organizations on Twitter. From the SU to departmental organizations and others like halls and press bodies.
While it may be argued that this is so because Twitter does not give them the social visibility that they desire but the number of UITES on Twitter — given they increase daily — should serve for good engagements for these organizations. This brings us to another feature of the UI community on Twitter, the fact that UITES don’t readily identify with the UI community like the other student communities do. While it is easy to tell when someone is from Ilorin or OAU from their interactions and engagements except when an account username is having an “of UI” in it. Now this lack of a sense of identity is something very on the UI Twitter.
The rather “friendly” nature of the UI management to speech and also past actions carried out by the management in response to people discussing UI issues in the public space may rightfully be used as a sort of justification for why UI Twitter is shaped as it but then despite what can be said, UI community interactions can be better on this space. The UI Twitter can become less segmented and UITES on Twitter could imbibe a sense of identification to the UI community.