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MEDIA: The Biggest Enabler To Abena KorKor

By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo

Abena Korkor has been part of the Ghanaian popular culture for half a decade and intriguingly, she is not even a musician or an actor – how weird!

In a setting where musicians and actors are regarded as the forerunners of news from pop culture, Abena, often tagged as a Socialite, gets more press than that entertainer who craves for that much needed attention.

She has become one of the most-talked-about personalities in Ghana for years and her matter transcends the frontiers of entertainment. Matters relating to Abena are even discussed in Church. That’s how influential she is!

In her pursuit for recognition, relevance and infamy, Abena has had such an enormous help, that conduit or platform that projects her tomfoolery and seeming good cause, all at the same time.

The ‘Abena Korkor Syndrome’

Abena Korkor first got our attention when she was a student at the University of Cape Coast some 7 years ago or so.  The publication and dissemination of her nude videos almost made her a legend.

Just like many other leaked nude or sex tapes, the anticipation was for the video and the personality to trend for a period and fizzle away, but no – not Abena Korkor. Following the leak, she has attained popularity and fame for announcing the names of men she’s had dalliance with, as well as shaming other females.

The ritual of listing men she’s had sex or acquaintances with has persisted for over 5 years, yes, 5 years of feeding Ghanaians with gossip of who has slept with her or who’s entertained that thought of getting into her pants.

For the past years, we have lived with various expose’ from Abena that plunges almost the entire nation into some sort of delirium, confusion and unproductive chatter. Many of her critics even surmise that her actions over the years have rocked marriages, homes and relationships.

Unsolicited Aid

Abena Korkor and her actions over the years have become popular, all because of that critical element – the media. One of the major functions of the media, both social and traditional, is to project and spread the news – and indeed, she could not be critically acclaimed if not for the aid of this crucial element.

She’s had such an enviable pass, both on social media and interestingly on traditional media as well.

Abena’s forte in garnering attention and banter over her actions has been on social media and she gets further leverage on traditional media, when various well-respected media house offer their respective platforms to either discuss or engage her.

Social media has become the main source of news online with more than 2.4billion Internet users; nearly 64.5 percent receive breaking news from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram instead of traditional media. In a recent survey, 50 percent of Internet users surveyed said that they hear about the latest news via social media before ever hearing about it on a news station. Many Internet users will see the breaking stories on their feed and go to the news sites to learn more. The survey found 57 percent increase in traffic to news sites referred from social media.

Delight For Negative News

The fact has always remained that, as humans, we have such an affinity to negative news. Negative news excite us to such inexplicable limits, to a level where we are never gratified consuming such news alone, so, we have to share. That’s what pertains with Abena Korkor.

Once she comes up with any list, we are overly excited to get to her social media pages to listen and see firsthand who is being mentioned and in what light. Within minutes, she garners likes, views and comments – all from the public. In the same spate of time, various blogs, both relevant and irrelevant – pick such news and splatter it all over social media.

Such news make the trends and dominate the chatter for the period, then comes traditional media.

In an era where almost every traditional media house has social media pages, they get into the action of garnering impressions and to further leverage on such news and the following it commands – such media houses offer their mainstream platforms to elongate the spread of such news.

Negativity Bias

According to Psychologists, our brains are simply wired to pay more attention to unpleasant news. They call this, ‘Negativity bias’. This term describes the tendency for people to give more weight to negative information over positive information. This bias towards negative content has important repercussions where media is concerned, since it affects what is reported in the news and ultimately how citizens react to such news.

Negative news content, in comparison with positive news content, tends to increase both arousal and attentiveness. In contrast, positive news content has an imperceptible impact on the physiological measures we focus on.

Researchers, Marc Trussler and Stuart Soroka run an experiment to test the veracity of negativity bias at the McGill University in Canada. They invited participants from their university to come to the lab for “a study of eye tracking”. The volunteers were first asked to select some stories about politics to read from a news website so that a camera could make some baseline eye-tracking measures.

The results of the experiment showed that participants often chose stories with a negative tone – war, murder, corruption, afflictions and so on – rather than neutral or positive stories.

In the same laboratory experiment, when words like “cancer”, “bomb” or “war” were flashed at participants, they hit a button in response quicker than when the word was “baby”, “smile” or “fun”.

Hunger for Content

Before the pandemic, there was some surge in the number of content creators especially on social media but the numbers skyrocketed during the severest period of the pandemic. Blogs, bloggers, vlogs, vloggers and other content creators have increased and they all need content to stay in business.

According to a 2020 report, over 50 million content creators that include social media influencers, bloggers, and videographers utilize content in the realization of growth and monetization.

The likes of Abena Korkor offer such creators that content, which is likely to elicit the much-needed clicks. It even gets better for these content creators when they are privy to the public ‘gullibility’ and negativity bias.

For these content creators, there is nothing like adhering to journalistic ethics and professionalism. Once there’s news that can be sensationalized to woo views, likes and comments, they are good to go. The job is even made easier when such news are projected by the likes of Abena Korkor themselves.

Thanks again to social media; the likes of Abena Korkor do not necessarily need newspapers, radio or TV to put their shenanigans across to the public. Just a post or a video on the app and that’s it; and there’s the surety that the content creators would pick them up, put a spin to them and feed them to the gossip-hungry public.

Self- Scrutiny Is Key

Candidly, the canker of Abena Korkor is something that may stay with us for as long as it unfurls. This is because; she may not stop considering her zeal for relevance and with the knowledge that she still commands an audience. The profit-seeking and content-hungry media would always be on the prowl to feed on her issues and the negativity bias of humans would not go away either.

But wait, there’s hope!

Individuals can make some conscious effort to have a control on how they consume Abena Korkor-esque news.

Everyone wants to feel informed, yet too much exposure to the new, especially negative news can seriously affect one’s mood and the ability to be rational and logical. Regulating consumption of news includes making the conscious decision to take “time out” from the media for a period.

Albeit difficult, one can control the urge to click on negative news by focusing on positive news, sticking to online feeds that project only positive news.

The scourge of Abena Korkor can be quelled if she has no audience. If social media fails to give her wings to fly and if traditional media cancels her – but ultimately, one can protect his/her sanity by not patronizing such news.

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