My clout chasing experiment almost landed me in hospital.
After lending me a hand in opening my Instagram account, or rather, my IG/Gram handle, Jasper did not hesitate to inform me that my ‘influencer’ career was now ripe for elevation. In short, I needed a Twitter presence. Twitter, he said, was for ‘serious’ people. A meeting place for the intellectually inclined.
”There things are different from kwa Zuckeberg. For instance, while Facebook asks you what’s on your mind,Twitter couldn’t care any less. Twitter always already has a conversation going on for you under a hashtag and you only have to join in”. he had said, eyes wide open with excitement.
I was fervid with expectations.
”If you’re ‘active’ you’ll soon grow your audience to a level where you become a conversation starter”. That’s how you become an influencer’.
”How many followers do I need to become a ‘conversation starter’?, I asked.
”Thousands. The more the merrier. ” he curtly replied.
We set up my first account, made my bio more interesting:
Tweets are my own. Retweets are not endorsements. My space, my views.
Thereafter, I wore a blazer, shirt and tie for my profile picture. We decided that the pic would be best captured as I sat at my work desk, appearing to type away at my keyboard like a ‘serious’ fella.
I strategically placed a couple of books beside me, careful to make sure their titles could be seen. People needed to know that I had a rapacious appetite for knowledge.
”Twitter is rough for the fair-minded”, Jasper’s warning rung in my mind.
Within a few minutes, my account was ready. Being a Sunday afternoon, most of the conversations centred around soccer. As a matter of fact, a match between Arsenal and Manchester United was looming.
Being the ardent Manchester United fan that I was, I wrote: ‘‘Arsenal is a non-starter. The Red Devils are in the best shape they’ve ever been. Tuletewe team kubwa, hawa tushawanyorosha! #MUNVSARS”
Seconds later, a reply came in, ”Ona huyu sasa. This is pure ignorance on a glass display. You can’t conclude that Man-U are in their best form and the season is not even halfway down.’ You don’t know what you’re saying’‘
”As I told you, Twitter streets are rough! You’ve got to have a thick skin.” said Jasper as I nursed my sting.
In a bid to prove my skin was thick enough, I decided that I would not take that mere insult lying down so I replied, ”You must be an Arsenal fan. You smell like loss and relegation’. Your team is so whack, they turn out second place during training,”
My detractor didn’t reply. I had successfully defended my territory like an alpha in the jungle. Savoring in my win, I asked Jasper what the next step was.
”Next step, you have to be as controversial as possible to gain followers. You have to prove your mettle.”
I have never been a controversial fella. But for the fame, I would do anything. With my hand on my chin, I pondered how best to stir controversy like a Kenyan celebrity. After all, all publicity is good publicity.
A sinister plan came to mind. I would have Jasper record me as I experimented on how long it would take me to chug a six pack of white cap lager. I would later post my shenanigans with the caption: I am not doing this for likes or retweets. Watch as I put ndogogio masters to shame!”
I opened my fridge and retrieved a pack I had bought for the weekend game and after being sure Jasper was set, opened the first can, pouring its contents in my eager mouth. The first one went down rather smooth. I picked the second one, with Jasper cheering me on. By the time the second beer was down, I felt a stir in my tummy, the stir of controversy, the price of fame.
Nevertheless, I wasn’t one to back down. I picked the third one. Same drill. Only stopping to let out a huge belch. The fourth one faced the same fate and by the time I finished it, I really wanted to stop because everything I had downed wanted to force its way up my gut and onto the floor.
I couldn’t let that happen. Not at this crucial fame-defining moment. I persevered, distracting my mind with images of a scrumptious meal of chicken and ugali to curb the feeling of nausea.
I pictured myself being cheered on by tweeps, a trophy waiting for me for this death-defying stunt. I had two more beers left. ”Twende boss! Mbili peke yake”, Jasper ushered me on. I was on auto-pilot. A trembling hand picked the beer can, placing it on my lips, lips which parted way and allowed the contents into my mouth. A wave of dizziness hit me like a brick.
I don’t really remember what happened afterwards. What I remember is being jolted awake by repeated painful prods on my ribs, ”Amka, amka wewe!”. I pried open my eyes to the sight of a small crowd that had congregated around me. Mia, Jasper, a neighbour and my brother who lived across town were there.
”What time is it?”, I asked, a wave of nausea hitting me suddenly.
”We thought you had died,” exclaimed Mia with concern. ”You blacked out for 12 hours straight!”
”What?” I was surprised. ”What day is it?”
”Monday”, said Jasper. ”You had us all scared out of our wits. We have tried all manner of tricks to get you to wake up to no avail. We were preparing to take you to hospital.
I tried getting up. A sharp pain shot through my body. My hands were trembling and I felt sick. Mia and Jasper helped me get up. After puking my guts out, taking a shower and settling in bed once more, I picked up my phone and checked my social media.
A video was trending. It was a guy, same height and built as myself. He was screaming, ”Get it off me!” as he staggered and fumbled over everything on his path. My heart skipped a beat as I looked more closely. The curtains, the table, the art on the wall, the pile of clothes on the floor were all too familiar. It was this very same humble abode. The guy was me!
The heading of the video ‘Guy drinks himself into a stupor and makes a fool of himself. Watch”
Jasper must have uploaded the video. Stupid Jasper. I called out for him to come, anger rising up my gut. ”What did you do, you imbecile?” I asked.
‘It wasn’t me!”, he replied. ”You were causing a commotion and many of our neighbours came to find out what was happening. One of them must have recorded you in that moment of fame Don’t worry though, si you got the clout you wanted?” he said, shrugging his shoulders.
There and then, I decided that I did not want that influencer business. Fame is fickle.
Till next time. Asante.