Oyindamola Olofinlua

This is What Too Much News does to You!

Sometimes you wonder whether what you read, hear and watch in the news is true. You imagine that newscasters, reporters, producers and editors are geniuses who specialize in manufacturing news—people who glory in gloom. They are the authors and finishers of doom but you like them; they keep you occupied. You enjoy bad news (after all, everything in the news is bad!) or what other reason do you have for always being news alert?

Most people around you know that you love it. While they wonder what you enjoy in news, you wonder what they enjoy in their noisy radio music stations. Even your colleague at work, Elizabeth, who is in her early thirties, never takes her radio off a radio station you think plays only noise (which they attempt to brand as ‘music’) all day. You’re sure she doesn’t know Inspiration FM exists, let alone knowing that they have news at 7am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm.  Many of these your friends would rather watch Miley Cyrus twerk for Robin Thicke than watch clips of how Boko Haram killed 100 human beings (not goats) in Damaturu. Some of them have never watched AlJazeera or Channels TV. “That is why they are happy,” you once guessed, or did you conclude?

You ask yourself whether anything has improved since you became a news–addict. Someone more mischievous than you once showed you a scanned copy of a 1984 Daily Times newspaper headlined “No More Power Outage by December 1986!” Just yesterday, you read a similar story in the news, more than two decades on. The only thing that has changed is “the goalpost,” and maybe the “keepers.”

You remember that when you were much younger, the last think you wanted to watch was the news. You enjoyed reading Hints and playing word puzzles in newspapers. At 9pm every night, Clapperboard TV showed a lovely soap opera; it was the same time your father watched the news on NTA. You would grumble and later go into the room you shared with two of your siblings. Now, you don’t know when you became your dad.

One day in secondary school, your Government teacher asked “What have most [enlightened] Nigerians been clamouring for, of late?” As your classmates looked on, your hands shot into the air, as if shadow-boxing. “Sovereign National Conference,” you said, with a slight idea of what it meant. The cry for this sovereign national conference has been on since 1960. On October 1, 2013, Dr. GEJ re-christened it as “National Dialogue.” National Dialogue. As usual, several titans in the nation’s public space have parroted their opinions. One thing your love affair with the news has taught you is that Nigerians love talking!

With all these thoughts running in your head, you’re sure you’re one of Nigeria’s many talkers. Ahnahn! This is what your love affair with news has caused! It has hatched the glibness in you and made a skeptic of you. By the way, believing Dr. GEJ these days is like believing you can bite your own neck. Maybe you should quit listening to Femi Kuti—he still sings against the same things his father sang against. Maybe you should start Caroline-ing, Limpopo-ing and Skelewu-ing. Maybe you should blacklist Aljazeera and Inspiration FM news. Maybe you should… Maybe you should… This is what too much news does to you. It makes you rant ad infinitum!

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