To be connected or disconnected

22 Jul, 2022 - 00:07 0 Views
To be connected or disconnected The community radio stations established by the Government throughout the country could be effective in fostering better communication and connection

eBusiness Weekly

Clifford Shambare
The universe is made up of systems that vary in size, nature, complexity and/or sophistication. For example, the Universe and all that is in it is a system. The world economy and all national economies on earth are systems.

And systems are created by forces whose origin also varies. At the universal level, those of us who are religious will assert that God is the ultimate force that has created the systems that we know and those that we do not know about.

But those of us who are not religious harbour all sorts of beliefs on this subject. Some believe in the Big Bang Theory, and so forth.

In this respect, there is now the phenomenon of global warming that mankind has caused but now wants to reverse; but is finding it difficult to do so.

The latter group that is the atheists, are trying to use the Big Bang theory to explain and solve this challenge. On the other hand, the Christian is using the Books of Daniel and Revelation in the Christian Bible, to explain the current happenings which to him, are irreversible. Blessed are those who will see the final outcome of these phenomena!

But whatever the case may be, there is no doubt that such systems exist in this world, [and] that there are forces that either create and/ or operate them.

At this point you may now be wondering what I am driving at. So here goes:
As I explained in one of my articles in this paper, titled; Of Capitalism and the Power of Imagination, systems are created by (whatever force has created them), for a goal or purpose.

At this point, let us zero in on the Zimbabwean nation since this is where our discourse becomes relevant. But as in most cases, since this country is part of Africa and the world, this discourse will be placing it in those contexts, from time to time.

In many cases, in this country, one hears such statements as these: (Who do you tell?) “Unozviudza ani?” “Uyatshelubani?”. “That is not my problem”. “Who cares?” Just let it be. (“Ingosiya [so] zvakadaro”; “Tshiya kunjalo”).

In order to keep our discourse simple and down to earth, and connected to our own situation—let us begin by elucidating on each of these statements and /or questions.

Who do you tell?, is often a sign of frustration by someone who has a challenge or information that they are not able to find a solution for. In most cases they will be thinking of higher authority which they feel has the power to deal effectively with that challenge.

And higher authority still varies in terms of level and power. For example, it varies from family to extended family, to organizations of all types—that is, institutions, governments, international bodies, and so forth.
On the other hand, these bodies are often aware of the existence of such challenges, this is why they create avenues for conveying or transmitting sensitive information to themselves. Whistle blowing and coded messages, and so forth, are some of these avenues.

And talking of the practice of whistle blowing and whistle blowers; these are individuals or entities or systems, that often fall into dangerous situations for their effort(s). The reason why this happens is that the individual or entity being reported on, nearly always wants to retaliate, one way or the other. This is the reason for the creation of whistle blower protection ways and/or systems. Paradoxically these are systems whose effectiveness sometimes fails—systems that the whistle blowers themselves doubt; witness the Julian Assange and David Snowden cases, among others.

Let us go back to our subject, lest we lose our way in the process.
“That is not my problem”, expresses an attitude—a problem in itself. Here we are dealing with an individual who is not cooperating with others. This lack of cooperation may be a temporary or longstanding attitude. It also varies in the context in which it is taking place. If in a casual context, those concerned usually leave him/her alone. But if they feel otherwise, they will find a way of making him/her cooperate.

If the matter has a legally enforceable element in it, the law makers will be called in to intervene there and then, or later.

But whatever the case may be, there is no doubt that non-cooperators have a negative impact on the way systems operate. And usually, the reluctance to cooperate has a tendency to disconnect that individual or entity from the system(s) concerned.

In a commercial context, this is one reason why cooperatives collapse. In this country, among black people, this is not an uncommon scenario.

Here remember that a company is a cooperative, and one whose modus operandi has been modified in terms of the laws that govern such systems. In the later case, relevant rules constitute and should lead to, a condition of what is normally referred to as ‘good governance’.
Ultimately, depending on other related factors, such systems may be rendered dysfunctional by such attitudes.

Who cares?, is also an attitude—this time one of cynicism. This attitude is sometimes expressed by people who have lost hope in their lives—such individuals being those who may be depressed, or taking drugs. In this country, with its high unemployment level, especially among the youth, this is now a prevailing attitude.

Obviously, this is an attitude that the authorities cannot continue to ignore in this day and age of fast change—most of it with negative consequences.

Just let it be. This is a statement made by a person who is resigned to a situation. Such individuals do not want to be involved, or to solve any problem [that may be] confronting them and those around them, in a social setting or otherwise.

But there is a rather subtle difference between this individual and the one who says; “That’s not my problem”. The latter has got a clearer, though negative, position. But the former’s position is rather vague here. Is he passively siding with someone? Or does he not want to be bothered? But still, the result is the same, a negative outcome.

Back to our connection challenge; and here again, in this country, such attitudes are galore. But then, it seems [that] the other races, those minor ones that one finds in this country, do not have such attitudes. In order to illustrate this assertion better, let us look at a few examples.

For instance, a few years ago, on witnessing a serious accident in the city centre of Harare, an onlooker got busy taking pictures and passing them on to his friends on Whatsapp, without helping the victim.
In that case, one of the more positive actions by that individual would have been to connect with a medical service organisation which would have sent an ambulance, or with the relatives of the victim, either of which would have come to collect him.

What the culprit did here was obviously, a case of connecting for wrong reasons.
In another incident a farmer died near Karoi after being involved in a road accident while onlookers looted his truck for his maize seed instead of contacting someone for help.

And yet in another case of cooperation, that constitutes an economic strategy, we have the Asians, mostly of Indian origin. These people lend money to each other for business start ups. They mostly keep their money circulating among themselves. They probably send more money back home than any other people. As a result when they are not in their home country, India, they try hard to free themselves from poverty through cooperation among themselves.

As far as governance on a higher level goes, we find governments needing to communicate with the ordinary citizen. To facilitate this communication, they have to create the necessary communication channels. What is rather fascinating, though sad, in the African context—Zimbabwe included—is the almost endemic disconnections that have developed over the years, within the communications systems therein.

In this country this phenomenon has developed to an almost lethal level. The authorities are generally disconnected from the grassroots.

But then, it would be unfair to assert that the authorities are not paying attention to this challenge. This argument is supported by the current government strategy of building community radio stations throughout the country.

Other things being equal, this strategy could be quite effective since through it, the people can air their grievances, which can then be transmitted almost instantly to Central Government. But beware! Even in such circumstances people can still be manipulated to express someone’s views and wishes.
Because of its criticality in human affairs, everyone wants this commodity called information. It is a commodity that can make or break whole systems. This is also the system that some systems use to control others—those smaller than them—for their own ends.

Information is a double edged sword. This makes it a complex phenomenon. In some cases, while it is beneficial to one party, it is detrimental to the other. In other cases, it is beneficial to both parties.
That said, the rather fascinating aspect of this matter is that allegiances can be changed in time. Here is where we have such terms as ‘turn coat’ and ‘sell out’. It is in those circumstances that information ends up in the ‘wrong hands’, meaning that it has been received by that party its conveyor did not intend to have it.

It is in such circumstances that we have the practice of the spying of one system by others.
This whole communication system produces a kaleidoscope of systems; some hostile, some friendly. This is where one comes across such logic as; “My enemy’s enemy is my friend; but are they? In such cases, only time will tell.

Then, there are the social media. Although, like any similar system, social media have their own weaknesses, they make up the most dominant communication system today. The most fascinating characteristics of these communication systems is their variegated nature.
In them you find both ‘true’ and ‘false information’, the latter being also referred to in some contexts—as misinformation. The latter can be so damaging as to result in a number of outcomes. In more mild conditions it can cause minimal damage while in the extreme of circumstances, the result could be devastating.

In the current world order, we all pray that the negative aspect of these media will not result in the complete destruction of this part of the Universe as we know it!
Back to our connection challenge; here we find that systems depend on the connection between and among different components, to operate effectively. Here we have many examples but let us pick a few for elaboration.

The ITC system is one. This system depends on both visible and invisible systems and components to function.

The visible systems are such gadgets as computers, relay stations, cell phones, iPads, cables, satellite stations, drones, and so forth. The invisible components constitute sound, light and magnetic waves, X rays, and so forth. In the context of the universe we find the African—the Zimbabwean included—facing a few challenges here. This is an environment which is almost entirely run by the said ICT system today.
Here we find the African being largely a user, and not a creator of [at least some of] those systems. In such circumstances, he is a virtual tool of same. And we know how a tool maker can use or abuse [it] as he wishes!

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