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  • Che John Belove Fu, Open Dreams Scholar

Infobesity - National Forum on Internet Governance in Cameroon (Day 2)

A focused report and reevaluation of the seventh edition of the National Forum on Internet Governance in Cameroon (IGF.CM- 19) under the theme "Digital Transformation: Opportunities and Threats"organized by ANTIC (L’Agence Nationale des Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication) on the 25th of April 2019 at SAWA Hotel Douala.


Called upon to be part of the National forum on Internet Governance in Cameroon as a representative of the Non-Governmental Organization, Open Dreams, with the aim of understanding how digital transformation and Internet Governance could affect aspiring students in higher education, the various effects, benefits, threats and strategies intended to assist Cameroon thrive were critically and thoughtfully analysed in the presence of honourable representatives from all facets of Cameroon's digital economy. This included, but was not limited to political actors, engineers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, NGO representatives and digital technology-conscious citizens.

The pros- and cons- of Cameroon's current digital structure alongside the direction it seeks to take were elaborately unveiled through eight presentations spanning 20 minutes apiece with two question sections after every 4 presentations. It was a conference with vital lessons, for the public audience especially the youth. Well, this brings to mind one of the questions asked: Why do the youths, those entitled to the nation's future, those who are the future, not participate massively in such defining programs? Sincerely, the answer wasn't so clear to me but it remains a valid question every youth must consider. However, the rest of this post will be to address another critical point raised from the conference. That's to say a phenomenon one of the presenters coined as 'infobesity'. This shrewd term, originating from information and obesity, refers to a situation where individuals get flooded and submerged in a sea of information - be it useful or not - which they'll never be able to consume healthily. It entails getting and consuming information we do not need while missing out on important, life-changing knowledge. For example, I could cite the case of someone having already seen the first picture of a black hole as a law practitioner whereas being ignorant on the latest judiciary reshuffle in their area. Both are wonderful facts, no denying this, but would not be practically useful to everyone every time. As presenter rightly stated, a vast number of people get stuck with unprofitable ideas and facts. A family sits on one table but with everyone mentally and brutally imprisoned by their phones in utter silence. The virtual world completely steals away the sense and intimacies of reality as we gradually lose contact with our surroundings and become more or less physically non-existent. Youths are the largest stock of prey to this defect-especially with the opportunity technical evolution has provided us with. We get stuck on our phones, maybe on facebook, scrolling and liking and commenting on the latest dress our bestie just bought, or just talk on whatsapp about that our friend who thinks she's better than everyone else or maybe, probably go through some random facts on some other platform as a science geek. But the sad thing is, though this individual activities, like fatty food and red meat, don't seem to cause damage immediately, we're presently missing out on some launched ANTIC Conference advertisement or an enriching training program or a scholarship opportunity somewhere else on the internet (well, come to think of it, maybe that's why many youths don't know about such conferences). Our brains get intellectually flooded with random data we don't instantly need or may never use. We end up worse at the end of consuming information as compared to when we had not yet gotten it. A useful tool and route to valuable knowledge in the form of technology becomes a highway to intellectual poverty. We catch the infobesity malaise. However, like maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding infobesity needs persistence and constant checks. There is no quick fix. We need to censor out unuseful vibes patiently until what we have left is nutritious and healthy information. Like the seven classes of nutrients, we have to identify what we need most at any point in time and carefully look for them amongst the waves of the internet. Limiting our time spent on mobile handsets, we could give more attention to other physically bonding activities with relatives and friends; these would definitely be considerable steps amongst others to improve our info-health. It requires discipline-to eat healthily requires effort. We're the ones to decide. That's part of what it takes to make our lives better.

(This is a Report and Reevaluation of day number 2 of the seventh edition of the National Forum on Internet Governance in Cameroon (IGF.CM- 19) under the theme "Digital Transformation: Opportunities and Threats" organized by ANTIC-L’Agence Nationale des Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication-on the 25th of April 2019 at SAWA Hotel Douala. Thank you).

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