The Social Media Playground

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So Fred – my partner – finally hired Lucy, the obnoxious, always talking, smart but cheeky intern from JKUAT. Which means evil once again reigns. A truly sad day for humanity, but a much darker day for me. A millennial in my midst every day. Lucy is a handful – and that’s putting it mildly. She remains spectacularly oblivious of her position in the pecking order. She has no sense of diplomacy, says what she wants to say when she wants to. Which can be both infuriating and refreshing. Mostly infuriating. She often uses her witticism, not to spread love in the world but to bully and intimidate those around her. Especially me. Towards the tail end of last year, we were plagued by a rat problem in our office. A problem we didn’t have before she joined us. Now, I’m not saying the rat followed her. Wait, I am.

But for all her quips and jabs, she is a wizard online. Knows her shit. She takes to social media like a submarine to the deep dark seas. Everything I now know about social media has somehow come from her. At a price. She calls me “old man.” Good morning, Old Man. Hey Old Man, can I have your dried fruit? Old Man, are you coming back to the office?

She thinks she is funny.

I didn’t even know Fred had hired her. I only found out last week. I was in the boardroom having a meeting after 6pm, when stuck her head around the door and said, “I’m gone for the day. Will you lock up?” I said, “Sawa. Kesho, then.”

I had a half-eaten muffin from Java . She has a bit of a sweet tooth, likes to nibble on things (maybe that’s how she bonded with the infernal rat) – especially things on my desk – so I asked her, “By the way, do you want a muffin?” She said, “Nah,” because she’s 23 and she says she needs to live a bit healthier than she currently is. But it should be noted that she is always beginning her “healthy living” after the party over the weekend and there is always a party over the weekend in Lucy’s life so she never really gets around to sticking to it. “You can take a piece of it,” I say and she sighs like I have really twisted her arm and proceeds to takes the entire muffin.

“This is Lucy our intern.” I tell my guest but then Lucy looks at me and says, “I’m not an intern.”

“You are.” I say.

“No, I’m not. Not anymore, I got hired.”

Of course I don’t want to air our dirty linen before guests, but I ask her, “And who hired you?” And she says, “Fred did. I even have an official email address. I’m the first full-time employee.” She smiles like she won a wager. So I tell her that our guest is a feminist and she says, “Oh no, are you going to be okay when I leave? Do you want me to stick around?” Our guest laughs and instead of leaving she stands there grinning, eating her muffin. My former muffin. The whole muffin. The one she said she didn’t want.

Then she starts talking about feminism and how it’s all confusing to her. But then the guest starts to like her because, well, she is kind of charismatic (kind of!), and they start talking about feminism and economics, which she studied. She has smart quips and when she laughs, cups fall off tables. It’s a hysterical laugh that reminds one of the sounds that randy Virunga gorillas make in the Congo.

People mostly find her funny and witty. Others don’t know what to do with her abundance. I, on the other hand, just wish she wouldn’t make fun of my age, because I’m probably the oldest person she knows outside her family.

There was a time she looked at my twitter timeline and said, “My God, Biko! My timeline at 1am is more exciting than yours during the day!” She scrolled down the list of the people I follow and asked, “Who are these people? And why are they tweeting with carrots up their fannies?” She let out her high pitched laughter that jams the printer. After studying my twitter she said, “OK, Biko, you are on Twitter Z.”

“What is Twitter Z?” I asked.

“Twitter Z is full of people who just joined Twitter from Facebook and they are trying to be cool but they aren’t. Like people from shags coming to the city and thinking they know it all.”

“Oh.” I said, trying not to show that I was hurt. “And you are in which Twitter?”

“I’m in Twitter A, where all the cool children are.”

“Of course.”

“Twitter Z guys are called MKZs.” she continued.

“That’s another bad thing, right?”

“It is. It stands for Mukuru Kwa Zuckerberg. Like Mukuru Kwa Njenga. The Twitter slum. People from Twitter Z don’t even know what MKZ is. In fact, that’s how you know you are in Twitter Z; when you don’t know what MKZ is.”

“Oh, okay…”

“Oh, but you might actually not be in Twitter Z Biko, I think you are in Twitter Elite.”

“Thanks a lot for the upgrade. Do I get anything special?”

“Chill. The Twitter Elite are boring. They tweet about politics and business and they don’t use memes. Please tell me you know what memes are?”

“Of course, Lucy, I know what memes are.” I said, finally relieved that I knew something.

“Do you know what to truncate is on twitter?”

“Uhm, no.”

They all laugh.

“What about GIFs?”

“No.”

More laughter.

“So where is Larry Madowo on Twitter?” I ask.

“Now there is Twitter Elite A and Twitter Elite Z,” Lucy says, “Larry is in Twitter Elite A.”

What follows is a confounding argument between two other guys in the office, social media hacks, Hanafi Kaka and Yvonne, about whether Larry is in Twitter Elite A or Twitter Elite Z. A big strange debate that ends with Lucy saying that it doesn’t really matter where Larry is because that is not where the cool children of Twitter are anyway.

“Oliver Mathenge, do you know him? He’s the head of Twitter Elite A. Twitter Elite A is boring Biko,” Lucy says. “Do you know there is a guy who sorts out everybody’s HR issues on Twitter?”

“No, I didn’t know. What’s his name?”

“He’s called HR.”

Buahaha. They all laugh, whether at me or HR guy whom they call Gicheru Gicheru, I will never know.

“So Lucy, seeing as you’re in Twitter A, if I tweeted you, being that I’m in Twitter Z, would I embarrass you? Would you pretend that you didn’t know me?”

“Uhm, yes. I don’t think it would be great for my rep.”

“So you would not tweet back because your cool Twitter A friends would roast you, as you guys call it?”

“I probably wouldn’t tweet you back, maybe I would call you.”

“So even after eating my groundnuts you would still ignore me?”

“Don’t catch.”

I have learnt through Lucy’s illuminations that I and a bunch of other people are only using about 2% of Twitter. That on a different wing of Twitter, the wing where the cool children are, there is a whole strange new world where weird shit goes down. Apparently, the cool children in Twitter A even get married. And date. And have kids. It’s like Melrose Place, only with a strange language, where everything is communicated in 140 characters.

There are numerous Lucys out there, making a living by tweeting. Guys glued to their phones, tweeting and facebooking. People who know what the acronym GIF stands for.

The only other person I “know” on social media is probably Caro. You know Caro, right? Caro and Jamo? That girl who replies to everyone on the Airtel Facebook page? I know this might sound very shady but I used to imagine that when you see a tweet from a corporate signed off with a name it’s actually a generic name that anyone who is working on that shift uses. What do I know anyway? I just learnt I’m a resident of Twitter Z.

How I ran into Caro is actually because I didn’t have cash to pay for my parking ticket at Oval.  I only had cash on my phone and there was no agent there to withdraw it.

I walked into Art Cafe hoping I would run into someone I knew who could help me out with cash, but you never run into anyone you know when you are in a bind. So I wandered into the Airtel shop near the staircase and asked her if she would give me cash then I’d send her money from my phone. She obviously thought it was a pick up line, because I guess strange men often wander into the shop and ask for 100 bob cash.

But she gave me the cash and I asked her what she did for Airtel. She said she was Caro and that she handles social media. I said, ‘Is that your real name?’ and she said it was and I said bullshit and she said it is and proceeded to show me her ID and indeed, it was there in black and white. It turned everything I thought I knew about social media on its head. Social media has its soldiers, some of us are just support staff.

So this is a shout out to Caro for sorting me out. I owe you 100-bob. I don’t know how many bundles that can fetch.

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174 Comments
  1. Hahahaaha MKZ at least i know this. But GIF i don’t. What is Lucy’s handle? It would be nice to know what cool kids do on twitter so that some of us in Twitter Z can angalau upgrade.

  2. Waar, I guess I’m an MKZ as well. No ideas what GIF means. I already like Lucy and I have not met her. She sounds like the kind of person to keep you on your toes.

    1. Hehehe, I am a JUKATER…from back in the days, and we are a univque lot coz bak in our days in the 90’s the ratio of chick to guys in JKUAT was 1:100 may be that is how we turn out weird

  3. Awesome read Biko.I have just discovered where I belong to on twitter. I won’t tell you where coz majority of the people I follow, siwatambui. Jeez! I just revealed. Anyhu, I think i like Lucy pretty much. Except for her laughter that jams the printer. I wouldn’t cope with that.Hehehe

  4. Damn I had to google meme & GIF
    Am not even qualified to be in Twitter z. So can I get new followers on Twitter? Biko? Want to follow me? we can upgrade each other. I promise not to tweet politics or business

  5. Cool post Biko. My small sister is a Lucy-personality & career. I bet her boss would write exactly the same article about her…whatever happened to the rat though???

  6. Naona pia mimi nko slum moja na biko…tried to get a tutor for twitter..ahem Lucy i should come for your classes..but im a slow learner

  7. I actually think you like Lucy the intern oops,the full employee now, in as much as she is infuriating….interesting piece I have laughed off loudly my colleagues think I am nuts, MKZ, SMH

  8. Lol i have a very inappropriate crush on Caro, i would ABSOLUTELY love to meet her sometime. As a solid member of twitter Z i reckon you owe it to us Biko to tell us whether she is pretty or nah.

  9. Latest statistics indicate that when Biko writes about
    Humans, 92.5% of the time it’s Females.
    Biko also thinks he is old when he is not. Have you met an old wise man lately? Ever got the full 411 of what happened when Jomo Kenyatta visited Kisumu in 1969. I am pushing 50 and my wise old Uncle still calls me Kijana.

  10. Interesting piece Biko, but how can you not give the meaning of GIF? You’re making life in MKZ harder than it already is. At the risk of being in Mukuru Kwa Everything, let me Google.

  11. Hahaha!Nice read. Now that you are talking about twitter, screw those follow train ninjas. I repeat, screw them. They must be the Twitter Z peeps.

  12. Old man Biko, ask Lucy which class is after Twitter Z because that’s where I belong. I still live in 1999. What that GIF mean anyway? And the rat, just gave a dialogue. You use the office during the day, the rat (and Lucy) can use it a night and on weekends.

  13. @Biko, guess you should hook up again with Caro so that she can upgrade you from Twitter Z to Twitter A, she is more warmly as compared to your intern Lucy 😉

  14. nice read…I sometimes forget my twitter password…I am on twitter ZZZZZZZ. Lucy should open a twitter school perhaps to salvage the MKZ like me

  15. love the flow of the story, but question where is rat,…or the new rat in the office is lucy… did you pay back 100 and in order carol to part away with that money did you explain/explain more info.

  16. If twitter Z are for those people who ….come to town and think they are cool….then what would you call some of us who come to town and immediately go back to ocha

  17. Let me give you a glimpse of Twitter A. You scroll through the timeline for 30 minutes and you gather more intelligence of what’s happening, where, when, done by who, to who, for who and with who than Mpasho and that other gossip site can give you in a week 🙂 It’s like the News channel with presenters, reporters, commentators and debaters all featuring in the same segment. And they don’t discuss shitty news like those news of ODM and Jubilee the discuss cool kid news :). God bless Twitter A.

          1. Hahaha can’t believe they asked that I am in twitter Z and love being there. I lovevto be a spectator as cool kids do what they do. Don’t bother jumping the hurdle; n people famous for being famous called big wigs I.e Wateba; Masaku; Ndela; the girl with big boobies from Naks; Ramzy etc

  18. I would not like to meet lucy coz i don know what she would say about me! I am in watsap and facebook and i tell myself ‘nko mbele sana’. I am ashamed by the way thinking that i am so young but i dunno these things

    1. Wooooi i feel the same….i forgot my twitter password like ages ago and i have tried to open others …….i think am on twitter Z-Omega

  19. You need not worry Biko.JKUAT girls are like that; wakona kimbelembele,and it’s because the campo’s boys to girls ratio is perplexing.

  20. If Biko is an old man i wonder where lucy would place some of us.Are you sure she laugs like the randy gorillas of congo?fearful…tottally fearful….

  21. Seriously though, what does GIF mean? also, there are so many sides of twitter? sort of like estates in Nairobi. Gosh! I think I belong to the shady side of twitter coz i didn’t even know that there is anything like sijui twitter A to Z. sigh!

  22. What is the obsession with ‘first-to-comment’ nowadays. I think there are enough struggles out there already to pester oneself with such a trivial matter. Biko should one day write about all these and other insecurities.

    Just my 2 cents rant.

  23. GIF as in Graphics Interchange Format, introduced by CompuServe in 1987. I doubt Lucy was born by then so it must have some other slang meaning. *bows head and joins twitter Z* Sigh

  24. GIF – Graphics Interchange Format. Those images that can be seen flickering all over the net nowadays. Or is there another meaning? Off to my MKZ abode

  25. Everyone and their mother, especially the ones in their early 20’s, are some sort of social media experts. This is to say dear Biko that your age allows you to be in Mukuru kwa Zuckerburg and Twitter elite…..don’t sweat it,i don’t yet i’m relatively young (insert tongue-out emoji here) To each his/her own

    Pen and paper,sorry i almost went too analogue on Lucy here,keyboard and monitor and the worda born therein are your kingdom,Lucy with her cool kid twitter status gat nothing on you.

    ION,congrats Lucy

  26. I think Caro and Jamo are full of BS
    all their replies end with ” The matter is with our team, awaiting resolution. ”
    They sound scripted

  27. Biko, Lucy in her evil ways may have pulled your leg and you fell for it. Most of this Twitter A to Z nonsense I doubt does exist. You were played and you possibly just aired your foolish self on this forum. I take it Lucy is tasked with pushing the piece…. Told you… She got you!!!!

  28. Just learnt what GIF means…learnt what memes were mid last year…and I consider myself a great twitterer!. Caro great. She has have sorted me a number of times… Please pay her 100 bob. As for Lucy and the rat… that another story!

  29. Awesome piece Biko!!i still dont get this whole fuss about who read it first or who read it when!!It still does it for me!!Therapeutic reading,it works for me whenever wherever!!

    1. The guys who usually rejoice in being first commenters had poor parenting whereby their parents never used to give them credit for anything,thus why they are seeking validation from biko

  30. She remains spectacularly oblivious of her position in the pecking order. She has no sense of diplomacy, says what she wants to say when she wants to… Deja Vu
    Ever been tasked to train an intern and you have to keep explaining stuff you thought was common sense.
    Nice read

  31. Glad you mentioned Virunga mountains that extend to Rwanda, it is beautiful here and I am just wondering why more Kenyans haven’t discovered it. Nice piece.

    1. Would love to visit Virunga and see the mountain gorillas! Would you advise as to rates and all..when I try to google and sent emails to those tourist companies, they send me rates like I’m some sort of Bill Gates with money to splash around. I’m on a budget here..hints.

  32. Hey Bik, you may not be a twitter bigwig but you are an A class writer. That is what that matters. What value does being in Twitter Aadd in one’ s lif?

  33. It took me like a month to understand twitter and that was 5yrs ago.
    I’m now among the twitter A ‘clique’ as they call it.

    Great piece Biko

  34. This is an absolutely educative piece Biko. My understanding of it is the difference between Lucy and ^Caro. You offered Lucy the muffin, but she never seemed to offer you anything, apart from her bragging of her prowess in twitter, and i bet nobody knows her, she is just an intern. But Caro the soft spoken lady has offered you the 100bob you needed and she keeps all her concentration to her job (at @Airtel_Kenya), which she doesnt brag at. That has made her name to be noticed by many. I can relate this story to the Swahili saying ‘Chema chajiuza, kibaya chajitembeza’
    For that matter, ^Caro is the ‘chema’ while lucy is the rotten lot. ~ The views expressed here do not reflect those of the author.

  35. Hahaha how you managed to cope with Lucy IDK…

    Anyway Twitter is always fun,and congrats to Lucy for representing tweeps… Doesn’t matter which side one belongs!

  36. Beautiful piece. Seems everyone is in MKZ. I have been on Twitter since 2011 but I didn’t know what MKZ really stands for. Lucy’s handle shoulder have been included so we follow Twitter A and kinda emulate them.

  37. Hey Biko? Firmly stuck at MKZ since March 2009!!! Hahaha… I would also like to meet Caro!!! You could have said something about her atleast. Lol!!! Long live Caro!!!

  38. Ok. I might be at MKZ 🙂 But I get it, its too exhausting to keep up on twitter, unless ofcourse it is paying the bills. Maybe Biko you need to sweet talk your newly hired employee former intern to start a class on how to hack on social media. Great piece as usual. And your IG posts has me laughing laughing at the most inappropriate places. You are a master with words.

  39. i have a kenyan friend here in rwanda called lucy who is well described by the lucy in your article, kindly set up a meet and greet..LOL i loved the ariticle, i liked lucy’s observations.

  40. Fred, your partner. That definitely had my attention. lol.

    By the way, let me explain this first to comment thing. If you don’t understand what it is all about then you are in Blogger world Z. If you are usually among the first to comment crowd and you are not getting anything out of it, apart from an ego boost, then you are in Blogger world Z. Those in Blogger world A know that the first to comment is a coveted spot because then you can push whatever it is that you are selling in the comments section coz everyone else who reads the post after that will see your comments and links. So it is a marketing opportunity people. Of course, you would only know that if you were in Blogger world A :-).

    Magunga, read 48 Laws of Power and by the time you get to the end you will understand why people are starting to get tired of your links.

    Phewks! Longest comment I’ve ever made here :-).

  41. Biko, kwani you always never have coins for parking fees at The Oval? Last year you walked into the Airtel Shop searching for an Mpesa agent (I almost thought my boss had sent you to punk me and see if I was loyal to my brand) Anyway after you mentioned the parking fee trouble I decided to help out and probably talk you into buying an Airtel line. When I saw the Mpesa feedback text I went numb…totally numb. I only managed to whisper something like “are you Jackson Biko the writer?”
    I will always have coins at my desk just incase you get stuck:)

  42. Honestly am so Twitter Z and though not proud of it, i am not even interested in upgrading. What would happen if all of us in Twitter Z upgraded? I guess the cool kids wouldn’t be cool anymore. I love kids. Would not want to exasperate them or dent their ego. At least i know my medal bracket if one day those from MKZ (Muthaiga kwa Zukerberg) dare organize the Social Media (or just The Twitter) Olympics.

  43. I feel some people take social media too seriously. This dire need that twitter users feels the need to be superior….than Facebook users. That.. inferiority complexity twitter users suffer from… ha!