• Tuesday, 21 May 2024
THE STATESMAN OPINION: #KOT Do Not Always Win Twitter Wars, Sometimes They’re Just Fighting Ghosts

THE STATESMAN OPINION: #KOT Do Not Always Win Twitter Wars, Sometimes They’re Just Fighting Ghosts

Being a Kenyan on Twitter is pretty much the same as being a young adult male in Ukraine right now - you will, whether you like it or not, be conscripted into the army (virtual, in this case) and have to put everything down and go to war in case the need arises. Period.

Being a Kenyan on Twitter means that you may have to randomly be caught in the crosshairs of a missile exchange (again, virtual) from a random country and you have to put down all civility, join in the war and send out as much memefied artillery as you can until we can confidently claim victory. You are always required to step into the battlefield first, and ask questions later. Or never.

Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) are a notoriously irritable bunch who will lurk in the dark shadows, waiting for ambush, hissing and snarling, ready to be aggravated before they can launch a bloody attack from all angles - going for the jugular, ripping your heart out, cutting your limbs off and yanking your tongue out.

They're a diabolically cruel lot who have all the time on their hands, all the skills to launch attacks, all the memes at the ready and all the zingers at hand.

All you have to do is step out of line and you'll be met with sheer ruthlessness, fury and vengeance as you're hauled to the guillotine, as if we were in the early 1790s and Maximilien Robespierre was in power.

Few entities, countries, individuals or corporations have solidly won a battle fronted by the KOT.

Kenyans on Twitter don't approach online battles halfheartedly - they throw in all their viciousness, all their might, all their time, all their pettiness, and all their blood and sweat.

After Bajan singer and entrepreneur Rihanna, whose pregnancy now has taken a life of its own globally, announced that she would be launching her insanely-popular Fenty Brand in select African countries, and a little Ugandan loon had the nerve to tweet; “Why is Kenya there? They don’t even have electricity in Nairobi.”

That little, silly tweet opened the floodgates of a torrential 48-hour inter-country virtual combat that resulted in a staggering amount of casualties, bruised egos, battered reputations, a hailstorm of brutal blasts and badly-wounded soldiers.

Oh, and a serious dosage of laughter too.

But in as much as Kenyans tend to 'win' all their Twitter confrontations, it's important to ask first, was the other side actively involved in combat? Was the other side just as enthusiastic in the clash as the KOT? Did the other side even bother to participate at all?

KOT appears to be a ragtag army of irascible minions who love to stir up trouble, exaggerate misunderstandings, jump into random duels and throw infantile tantrums for the sake of it.

Not every little diss needs a reply. Not every little, sometimes even, asinine attack deserves a swift, ruthless revenge. Not everyone who slips their tongue while addressing Kenya needs to be attacked, dragged through the streets, disrobed and beheaded.

"Sometimes, KOT acts like that hot-headed school principal who, after a form one student makes a little joke at the school parade, spends the next four hours of the parade attacking the student - calling him names, pointing out his academic status, belittling his height, lampooning his tattered uniform and reminding him of his poor background. It's just not that necessary, Mr. Principal. He's a little boy in form one. And he's already sorry for the joke," Caroline Muthama, a PR expert and social media analyst, says.

KOT seem to have an unhealthy obsession with launching attacks at the slightest provocation. Like Pariah nations like North Korea, KOT is the sensitive crybaby that people fear antagonising for fear of immediate, and often senseless, reprisals.

We have carved out a childish notoriety for always running to combat, rallying masses, crying foul and yearning for war over the slightest, silliest and most mundane beefs.

There's absolutely no reason why a little Ugandan girl, who has since apologized (twice for that matter), would work up an entire country, lead everyone down a rabbit hole of electricity connectivity, launch so much vitriol and counterattacks and see everyone waste endless hours throwing punches over an obviously playful tweet she left under a popular celebrity's tweet.

KOT's readiness to attack, fight and defend themselves is worrying - it reeks of a constituency that is unsure of itself, lacks faith in its ability, is easily threatened by outsiders and is always ready to pounce at the slightest - and downright flimsiest - provocation.

A cursory look at the #KenyaVsUganda hashtag activity will reveal that, almost all of the tweets sent were from Kenyan accounts, with Ugandans reluctantly taking up the remaining 20% of the slot and with remarkably less enthusiasm too.

Over the years, most of the hapless individuals who aggravated Kenyans on Twitter were not even looking for a fight in the first place and must have been stunned to see the rashness Kenyans applied in meting instant - and unquestionably ignominious - justice to them.

And even when @AtimCharlotte, the instigator of the latest KOT slugfest apologized, over and over, still, KOT continued with the hostilities, not slowing down for a minute and not even taking a goddamn bathroom break.

Sure, KOT has moved mountains before, with solid hashtags that changed people's lives, educated the world and set important records straight but still, the Twitter populace must desist from being pulled into every little conundrum, blowing it out of proportion and making a total mess of it for likes, clout and a little mention in African blogs.

Sometimes, a little wrestling doesn't hurt. But, first ask yourself, is your opponent even in the ring?

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