FRONTROW: Don’t take to heart what social media haters say


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I was chatting with some students at Kibabii University after hosting our Bungoma governors’ debate when the question came up: “How do you deal with hate on social media?”

I didn’t have a straight answer because I’ve never sat down to devise a strategy. I’ve had to develop a thick skin, naturally, but that’s not really news.

“Why do you care what a random stranger thinks about you?” I asked the young man. “Does it matter to you that someone on the Internet you’ve never met doesn’t like you?” I wanted to know.

The dozen or so youth gathered around all agreed that they shouldn’t fret about getting love from unknown avatars on the worldwide Web. If that is so, I wondered why we spend so much time trying to get liked by those very same individuals behind glowing screens. Social networking often feels to me like a great big high school where so many people are trying to align with the cool kids.

It’s not just for the early twenty-somethings like the group I was getting to know; it is the same even for older, more experienced people who should know better. That moneyed grand lawyer everyone tries to please on Twitter, or the government-leaning hotelier and his Facebook posts also have their e-cliques.

Among Kenyans on Twitter, there’s a group of misguided bullies and other wannabes called “bigwigs”, whom other impressionable youth on the microblogging site adore. Why anyone would look up to another person just because they have more followers than you is beyond me.

I can say that because I have millions of them and I have always treated my social media with anything from resigned amusement to active disinterest. When some people think they are having fun trolling me, I am enjoying myself even more by being blissfully unaware of their intentions. I gave up reading Facebook comments a while ago because there is little to be gained from diving in there.

My use of Twitter has taught me remarkable restraint, with the wisdom to leave the wrong thing unsaid at the temping moment.

One of my bosses often tells me that social media have allowed the lowest of people to reach you directly. That is both their best advantage, but also their greatest undoing.

“As a human being, we always read the one negative one and ignore the others,” British pop star Ed Sheeran told NBC’s Today show about his decision to stop reading his Twitter replies. “It’s just foolish to do when there’s so much love out there in the world to look at the negative stuff so I’m just choosing not to read it.”

That is certainly one way to look at it if you are a prominent figure or have 19.3 million followers like him. Because I work in news, social media are also a source of news and tips for me so I can’t just quit cold turkey. So I scroll through my mentions, run into hurtful comments and move on because it is just another day for me.

People have told me so many mean things for so long that I have become completely desensitised to their sting. The liberating moment for me was when I decided that I didn’t care about approval by random strangers on the Internet.

They knew my name but not my story, so I didn’t have to put any value to their ramblings. Something can only hurt you if you attach weight and importance to what is said. If you know what you are about and why you do what you do, any attempts to undermine or diminish you will not stand.

Those who hate on your dream have never had a dream of their own. Anyone who is working on a vision has no time to hate on someone else’s “hustle” because they know how hard it is.

Millenials need to stop worrying about getting liked on the Internet and live their lives the best way they know how. If someone disapproves of your choices, they are much more desperate in their own lives than they care to admit. Online haters are often people so disillusioned with their own lives that they try to bring others down to feel better about themselves.

Ignore these compensatory narcissists and proceed with your “hustle” because nothing annoys them more than lack of attention. You shouldn’t allow any malicious hate-mongers on social media to ruin your day with their despicable cyber bulling techniques. It is impossible to be liked by everyone so attempting to suck up to negative people online only gives them fuel to attack you with.

That said, I have always been a firm believer in the well-timed clapback to put down especially notorious trolls whether they are silly bigwigs or thin-skinned presidential candidates.


Yes, Matiang’i for Interior, but?

THAT DR FRED MATIANG’I stood his ground during the digital migration debacle is something many in the media are probably not happy about. His successes after the Information, Communication and Technology ministry are more universally praised, especially in the education sector, where he has restored confidence in the national examinations system. He has been an acting Lands minister and now Kenya’s Magufuli is acting in the Interior position left vacant after Joseph Nkaissery’s sudden death.

“Dr Matiang’i is becoming President Uhuru Kenyatta’s go-to guy in case something needs to be fixed, perhaps because of his no-nonsense approach and thoroughness,” wrote the Sunday Nation.

With just 26 days to the election, do we need a famously confrontational, abrasive man in charge of national security?

If he allegedly did not follow queues in his current job, how much worse will security personnel have it with him as their boss? ‘

Tutatembea kwa magoti hii nchi,’ (we’ll walk on our knees) a colleague at our Eldoret bureau joked when President Kenyatta announced the appointment. He’s coming to a ministry with a poor record after accusations of widespread human rights abuses, grand corruption and general lethargy.

He’s hit the ground running with curfews but can Matiang’i fix this mess?

Panic over Raila health scare

MINUTES BEFORE I went on air at 8.32pm last Sunday to preview the day’s headlines, we saw a statement that Raila Odinga had been hospitalised. Food poisoning, the first statement said, but you never know with these things.

It wasn’t lost on any one that if the NASA presidential candidate died, there would be a crisis. If any of the other seven presidential candidates were to die within the next three or so weeks, we would have to postpone the election because that’s what the law says. Jubilee and NASA don’t agree on anything, but they both say they don’t want that.

They want this August 8 event to be over and done with. The former prime minister was well and there was nothing to worry about but that was one interesting evening.

NASA Pentagon members hurried to his side even though his team and doctors were confident that all would be well.

His next few public appearances will be scrutinised even more.

FEEDBACK: On Larry Madowo’s leaving ‘#theTrend’ 

Larry, I have been an ardent fan of your show.  However, there are a few things that no one has told you, so think I should:

First, entrepreneurship is not just about having a business idea: You are the best entrepreneur I have ever known. You might be a journalistic entrepreneur but you have proved that one can be an entrepreneur in whichever  field they choose.

Second, you made me realise that I am not crazy by supporting my thoughts. I  don’t believe you have to have a new idea to wow people; as long as you implement the existing idea in an ingenious and unique way, you will make a name for yourself. You came and found a hare like #the Trend” and made it an elephant.

Thanks for making my Friday nights.

Larry, I watched with dismay your last show on #theTrend. It was painful to let you go. Congratulations for a job well done. You have influenced our society in a big way. You have uplifted forgotten artistes. I checked the manifestos of the two major coalitions and they have not been given prominence. And not just artistes, but anyone who dares to dream.

I wish you well and have no doubt you are destined for  even bigger and better things.

I was one of the people who commented, “Why you are spoiling the show?”when you featured socialite Hudah on the show because I felt it was inappropriate. But then I realised that you were redefining the show because we can’t have politics from Monday to Sunday. You have invited guest from all walks of life, making the show more interesting.

Everyone can watch the show because there is something of interest to them.  Then there is #TTTT, in which you discuss even sensitive topics that make people wonder whether you don’t fear for you life. I believe many people, including myself,  look  up to you quietly because of the way  you respond to critics and online fights. Besides, many people have also said you have helped them in their careers.

Larry, I understand how hard it was for you to make this decision. 

I started watching #theTrend when it was hosted by James Smart, and have never stopped. The programme was a revolution on local TV that was long overdue.

However, when he left, I was left wondering who would fill that gap, and I must admit you never crossed my mind at that time so when you took over, I was skeptical of your performance.

However, you came,  owned the show and  turned it around completely. And as you said, you made it a mess – an awesome mess. I have been a loyal viewer of #theTrend because I have always found inspiration in your life story, how you handle both work and the many travels, and how you struggled through university until you made yourself a  household name in Kenya. The #TTTT gang’s creativity also falls into this category.

Thank you for changing Friday night TV in Kenya.

rn rn

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