Social media went on a frenzy, this past week and no, the conversations had nothing to do with Francistown West MP Ignatius Moswaane’s recent rant in parliament, nor was it Botswana Post CEO Pele Moleta’s resignation. It was not even about the announcement of water rations by the Water Utilities Corporation.
Who would have thought an incident would supersede Berry Heart’s thigh fashion faux pas fourfold but alas in the world of social media such stuff becomes trivial when compared to issues of sex and nudity. Lately the ice-breaker and conversation of the week revolved around a disturbing video depicting a m├®nage ├í trios (a three way) between two young men and a young woman apparently shot in Modipane village. Not a single newsfeed was spared from the Modipane # (hash tag).
It was nothing like the flashy glamorous pornographic movies available online with flimsy storylines of a plumber coming to “Clean pipes of a lonely housewife,” it was raw unadulterated sex.
But contrary to what one may expect, what is shocking about the tape is perhaps not the video itself or the stars of the video. It is the apparent excitement that the ‘blue movie’ seems to have aroused among its consumers. A public reaction that is devoid of shock and surprise at something that no so long ago would have created uproar. Has our moral decay as a society already hit rock bottom? Have we become morally numb to all that was previously surprising, revolting and incredibly outrageous? With over 400 000 downloads of this video locally, one may be left wondering if society has succumbed.
On the other hand, Batswana may be coming to terms with the fact that they do not live in a bubble and people do have kinky bedroom antics involving more than two people and some instances more than penises and vaginas.
“In recent years the public has been inundated with sexual material from the media and the images have become entrenched in their minds and in the process normalised public display of sex and nudity,” says Bishop Metlhayotlhe Belene of the Anglican Church. “Some television programs should just be banned.” He says the media has reversed the church’s efforts to instil morally acceptable standards in society. “People see these images all the time and they have become their way of life,” Belene says.
He believes the past twenty years have been especially instrumental in changing the public’s perspective of right and wrong. The Bishop says as religious leaders they get to hear the most sexually outrageous stuff during confessions. Belene says the church provides a platform for Christians to seek assistance and turn to God for guidance on issues of morality.
“We have become desensitised to issues of public sex and nudity,” says social commentator and counsellor, Ntombi Setshwaelo. “We live in different times now.” She says there has been a lot of influence from the western world and Batswana have adopted the changes at the expense of their own values and beliefs. “So much western culture has been thrown on our laps and we have no idea what to do with it. The custodians of our culture and morality have also failed to guide our children and instil in them a sense of wrong and right.”
Setshwaelo says the line between right and wrong has been blurred because there is no guidance. “We let our children watch programs on television indiscriminately.” She says the ‘Modipane’ sex tape is a wakeup call.
“We have to start empowering young people with the necessary tools to help them discern between what’s morally acceptable and what is not,” Setshwaelo says. “Teach them to be able to know what is productive and what is counterproductive. We have lost sense of our core values.” She says it all began when Batswana stopped recognising the importance of traditional rites of passage.
“Back then people were a cohesive group that subscribed to the same values,” she tells Lifestyle. “Now it is every man for himself; people do their own stuff.” She says there is a need to empower adults, teachers, social workers, community leaders – so they can be in a better position to provide proper guidance to their children. “People watch movies and they don’t even know how to separate real life from fiction,” Setshwaelo says, in particular reference to the recent controversial flick, Fifty Shades of Grey.
A local psychologist Keletso Mathe explained that with Western civilisation came the good the bad and the nasty, it is however going to be very hard for a community to accept positive change only and discard the rest. “It is going to come right down to the individual’s core values and principles, socialisation and how an individual is brought up.”
2013 saw a private conversation between a prominent politician and his much younger mistress go viral on social media. Then 2014 there was the sexually explicit ‘Fifty Shades of Gabs’ WhatsApp conversation between an elderly woman and her toy boy that also circulated around the internet. This year all talk was about Fifty Shades of Grey the movie before the local ‘Modipane’ teenagers stole the limelight. What is next? Is it even possible to raise the stakes from here? Has the envelope been pushed to the limit? Has our moral decay already hit rock bottom? Or in the words of Peggy Drexler: “…maybe we’ll grow up and become more European in our sensibilities, and react less like school boys at the sight of a breast. Maybe we’ll learn that hitting bottom culturally reveals a whole new bottom underneath. Whatever the impetus, the bottom is in sight. After all, being outrageous today is hard work, and only getting harder.”
Sending a short message via mobile phone has gone from texting to sexting a phenomena where a couple goes into graphic detail into what they intend to do to each other at their next encounter. As if that is not enough, there is a lingo that goes with it, acronyms like FFM (Female female and Male), tea bagging and MMF (Male Male Female) are tossed into these very real far from animated conversations.
The reality however is that sex has evolved in a major way. It has become so colourful that there are not enough crayons to describe it, and with the advent of social media it has become easier to share, compare and discuss various (s)exploits. And the smart phones are not helping the situation by enabling the use of social media to share sexually explicit content.
Is it a train crash? Really?