I have become that UK person who speaks of the weather frequently, but my goodness has it been hot this past week! I already know when I go back to Nigeria I’m going to sound like one of those “I just got back” types who moan about the heat all the time—it was low 20s this week (70s, for my American friends!) but it felt like the worst of humid Lagos weather. (And not for the first time, I felt a little jealous of the women at work wearing more weather appropriate clothing—sleeveless tops and shorter skirts—while the best we guys could manage was short sleeves!)
Before saying anything more, I want to appreciate all who been supportive of this newsletter, whether by giving, or by sharing on social media, or by simply replying emails and engaging in the comments sections. It means a lot and you make my day, every one of you. And no fewer thanks to you who simply read each week without fail.
You’re all real ones.
A razor for reality (essay)
This week, I wrote about Hanlon’s Razor, which is one of my favourite sayings. Honestly, I quote it at least every other fortnight and that’s with me holding back from all the opportunities that present themselves, online and off.
Here’s an excerpt:
Shaving with Hanlon’s razor about once a week helps me stay generous and avoid cynicism.
No, Hanlon isn’t a brand of blade, and it’s certainly not for shaving my beard. It’s a super helpful principle for thinking about why people do what they do. You might say it’s for “shaving” human motivation. I like to paraphrase it thus:
Never attribute to malice whatever is adequately explained by thoughtlessness.
It’s an important principle because living in a world full of other humans means experiencing hurt from them. And there’s a body of evidence that indicates that the trauma we experience from what other people do to us is likely to be more painful and scarring than from natural events…
You can read the rest of the essay here: Hanlon’s Razor is a way to be generous
Hanlon’s for countries
Speaking of Hanlon’s Razor, as of this week, some troubling news has come out of Nigeria (in addition to the troubling news over the past month). The short version is, the president’s Twitter handle put out a statement that contained inflammatory innuendo (it made reference to historical national conflict), leading to widespread reporting until Twitter removed it. Then the government responded by putting out a notice (on Twitter!) that they’re indefinitely suspending Twitter in the country.
It’s not clear yet what this will imply but it understandably has everyone worried, not least because this isn’t the first time there’s been rumblings from government about the role Twitter plays as a means of information sharing and mobilisation. During the demonstrations against police brutality last year, social media (and notably Twitter) were a critical medium for organising.
While we wait though, I’m reminded of why social media matters, and why it’s important that it remains free, and why privacy matters and must be protected. I will never agree with those who say social media giving everyone a voice is a bad thing.
Such people almost always have never known what it is to be voiceless.
For their sake I hope they never do.
Rulers without voices (proverb)
Speaking of voices, here’s today’s Yoruba proverb:
Better to be a commoner—than be a king whose voice commands no respect.
Life is all about trade-offs, and sometimes in chasing power we unwittingly trade off real influence: the ability to command people’s earned respect.