The Community 2: Reality Check

The Rapture

It was a day in the community that many never thought they’d see in their lifetime –the rapture! Myriads of followers of the rich and famous of our dear twitter community vaporized into thin air after the Powers that be decided to make an unforeseen onslaught on fake/Dormant twitter accounts.

The issue of fake followers had always been an underlying concern to most folks, but since it was mostly championed by those of the community with fewer followers, it was inevitably deemed vindictive by the community’s elites.

In fact, the one time I recall someone calling another user out on buying followers to boost her (yeah she’s a feminist) followers count, a lot of folks in the upper echelon of the community came to her defense making such obtuse statements as “live and let live”.

I reckon that in that moment, most of these self-appointed judicial practitioners felt a need to set things right, not because they actually cared for the accused but rather because they too were somewhat accused as well. And since Twitter took action on removing these fake accounts, it would appear that only one sect of the community seem to have come under harsh scrutiny than the others: our very dear “Influencers”.

The Reckoning

Yes, the crack-down affected almost everyone including those of us aspiring to reach the milestone of gaining at least a thousand followers or more. Celebrities were hit hard too; Katy Perry losing approximately 2.8 million followers. Same went for the likes of Justin Beiber, POTUS and Barack Obama. Even our own indigenous celebrities suffered similar fates as well. Yes, SkysportsNews lost about 300,000 followers too.

However, it is understandable that these celebrities were really not fazed by the loss as much as The Influencers were. Why? Well, for starters, they are celebrities. Heck, they may just as well gain back the lost followers rapidly as they have lost them if they releas a new song or video or post some feminist or Trump skewed meme.

But this is not the same for The Influencers. These folks fought hard to gain the notoriety that they often blatantly rubbed in the faces of The Wannabees and Newcomers.

It was sad to see them shroud their pain and angst in forced hilarity as they made jokes about the seeming “purge”; creating memes to downplay the seriousness of the truth that stared back at them, glaringly.

They were just like the rest of us.

The Retribution

From an honest point of view, I believe that the rest of us (using myself as a case study) felt as though justice was served via this purge. Yes, I finally got to see these influencing folks –who at one point or another, I’ve had to beg for miserly Re-tweets or follow backs– put under the microscope and exposed for their own insecure vulnerabilities.

I personally checked about four twitter accounts just to confirm that the purge had also affected them, simply due to my petty beef of having been snubbed on different occasions.

The purge felt like a retributive outlet for those of us constantly struggling to maintain the charade of not caring how many followers we had, yet still day-dreamed having enough to help spread whatever gospel we were preaching.

Of a truth, not everyone wants to be popular, but everyone wants attention. In this community, the latter and the former are quite synonymous.

I recall when the “4k babe” gist made the rounds. I, like a lot of the other folks, took to her side and saw reason with her actions. I also remember her not having so much followers, being proudly part of our Wannabee sect. She was also notorious for being very cheerful in response and benevolent in her Re-tweets and likes, especially to anyone who engaged her in a mention/discuss.

I did, one certain time, recall making a stale joke that was meant to be somewhat a flirtatious shot at her. Her reaction warmed my heart. She laughed off my funny-ish advance with a couple of laughing emojis and a follow back.

Fast forward, a couple of months later and her followers count have immensely increased into the thousands, so much that, Twitter administrators couldn’t be bothered typing the numerical digit, they simply opted to add the suffice “k”. She had used that “4K trend” to push her business/passion as a photographer and stylist. She has soared.

I felt somewhat jealous and surprisingly, somewhat, entitled – as though, these was one of us, Wannabees, who we rallied around when she came under attack for her honesty, refusing a man to give her a good time only to diss her for four thousand naira.

The elites, made up of mostly ladies of the influencing world, feminists and “Big girls with big gods” crooners, had taken offence at her honesty and some of them had decided to drag her for nothing more inane than the fact that she used synthetic hair.

In those dark times, we, yes, we “The Wannabees” –myself included– had come to her aid with words of encouragement, endless Re-tweets of her amazing photography and adulations of her very natural beauty. Somehow, we had been able to ward off the insults and drive back the hecklers and naysayers into their hiding cave-mansions from whence their tweets came.

The Reality

So, with this seeming history that we shared, it seemed as though, her success was mine in some way. I felt like I ought to be on the same trajectory as she was. I wasn’t naïve to think my followers and popularity would match hers, but I expected to at least see some improvement in my following numbers that didn’t spell the price of Chicken Republic “Re-fuel” dish.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the reality.

Instead, the reality showed that one of us had been able to break the mold and ascend the stairs of the community’s notoriety. And sadly, what this meant was that no matter how much solidarity we as “The Wannabees” put forward, each of us was still alone in our affixation towards escaping the lower-middle class of our esteemed community.

“4k Babe” is now part of The Influencer sect and honestly, she is flying high. Remember when I earlier said I checked a couple of accounts when the purge took hold to see how their numbers had dwindled…well, I checked hers too. Imagine my surprise when I discovered she had un-followed me.

The Root

The Purge has happened and in its aftermath, I realized that it changed nothing. Indeed, a host of these folks lost thousands and some hundreds of thousands of followers. But still a lot of them had thousands and some hundreds of thousands more. Nothing really changed besides the exposure of an underlying envy that some of us bore towards others we thought were better off.

The great divide that separates the different sects in the Twitter community rest solely in the number of followers each sect can boast of.

However, we are all called as equals to play a game that in life, has no rules – just each individual’s sense of rectitude, which by no means affects any other person but themselves.

No one comes to twitter with a million followers in toll but if you can get a million people to follow you faster than the next person, you attain the status of reverence; the kind bestowed on the likes of the Blue-tick gangs and The Influencers. I know a couple of accounts who started off in 2012 just like I did, but now have followers in the hundreds of thousands whilst I am still struggling, currently, to get a Re-tweet for an obviously funny joke/meme about Trump and Putin.

Nevertheless, I strongly believe that the creators of this platform did so to foster a social sharing community where everyone has access to the same information, channeled in a quid pro quo fashion; conversing on and about issues that resonates in our societies.

But not surprisingly, like anything created with a quasi-puritan goal, us humans, disruptive as we tend to be, find a way to break down the sole-purpose of the creation and in turn build sects and hierarchies that divides us vis-à-vis undermining the overall rules of engagement.

The beauty of the Twitter community is the branch-like dissemination of information that begins at a source and spreads out.

The logic behind sharing is that it leaves everyone with a little something but no one with too much. Sadly, this logic is just that: logic. It does not factor in the human condition: a condition which is riddled with choices that borders on interest, pettiness and sometimes, plain old ignorance.

My pettiness drove me to un-follow the “4k babe” as well. While I might have nothing against her, I now realize that this whole community is a game of numbers and it mine doesn’t add up, I should at least have the decency to subtract from someone else’s.

By Mifa for Urban Central (Tweets @Mifaunuagbo_)

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