Making media the message and avoiding real issues hastens Abiy Ahmed’s fall

Even though Ethiopia has been thought of a religious country filled with pious Christians and Muslims activists now promote blasphemous suspension of morality

Twitter has seen so many posts advocating escalation of ethnic violence against the Tigray in Ethiopia that they shut down their mechanism for collecting posts with similar topics for readership. In the face of a great epic tragedy occurring in Ethiopia the supporters of Abiy Ahmed have decided that their best strategy in midst of a military debacle is to attempt to deflect the real issues and realign them to emotional ones unrelated to the current reality.

Amhara activist promotes savage behavior

Over the past few years I have had an interest in the use of language and neuroscience related to how it functions to establish human interactions. We have been using this to help develop teaching methods for students training for futures as executives in business in Africa in how they relate to clients. This neurobehavioral science gives some insight to what we are seeing in Twitter and Facebook.

Modern media is about the short sound bit or 125 character phrase that creates a “Wow” visceral response without contemplating the whys? Hows? Where is it going? Where did it come from?

Whereas decades ago all massively distributed media was created by professionals with supervisory editing dictated by agreed norms of civility today we see a change to media made for sensationalistic emotional immediate response.   In the 1960s Marshal McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher, coined the phrase “the media is the message”. The concept is a bit complex but importantly relates to the idea that sensational content in its presentation draws the observer away from thinking about things like why is it presented, what were the circumstances that lead to it, etc. In his work Understanding Media:The Extensions of Man he gave the example of a “burglar carrying meat for the watchdog of the mind”.

The problems of starvation, deprivation, imprisonment, and violation will not be solved by sound bits or catchy phrases. History is replete with many instances of times when leaders let personal glory drive them to make decisions prolonging suffering of those in their charge with avoidable predictable catastrophe.

Author: Professor Tony Magana

Professor Tony Magana is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia. He directs a neurosurgery residency and training program as well as neuroscience research.

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