Or better still, I should have kept my fingers and emotions in check while tweeting, I am pretty sure if I had, I wouldn’t be telling this story.
Right now I am sure you are wondering what the heck I am talking about, well keep your shorts on, don’t be in a rush, and I’ll tell you.
A few months ago, I decided to create a twitter profile, a few friends had told me, how cool it was and how it had helped them get a lot of virtual credibility, they showed me their various handles and I saw how between both of them, they had managed to gain close to 15,000 thousand followers, I know for most of you this doesn’t seem much, but back then, to me it seemed awesome, mainly because on all social media platforms I had been on, I had never been able to cross the 200 mark, no matter how hard I tried.
They assured me that within weeks, I would be able to cross that mark and true to their words I did, and within weeks, I had over a thousand followers, they tutored me on the surest way to getting gullible followers, they told me I needed to be totally confrontational, rude and unapologetic, they said I would have to develop thick skin, and most of all, keep my identity as secret as possible, because this would somewhat add to the mystery that had become me, and would keep me safe from the crazies.
I did all they asked me to do, and then some, it was awesome, my twitter handle assumed a life of its own, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I was tweeting, fighting, insulting, cursing, I became an expert on everything, and I mean everything, relationships, even though I wasn’t in one and didn’t have a girlfriend, religion, even though I didn’t understand any of its intricacies, sex, even though the last time I had it, it was not a palatable experience, marriage, even though my only understanding of it was from my parents, and the almighty politics, even though my only experience in politics, was that one time I ran for class rep in my undergrad days.
Google was my friend, once a topic came up on twitter, I was on Google and Wikipedia, I had definitions, topics and history saved up in different files on my laptop, not for the purpose of knowledge, but to further boosts my online persona, my tweets got re-tweeted, my fights became trends, the followers increased, and so did the enemies, or as we called them the HBP haters, and it was awesome.
I wanted more; I wanted people to know who the man behind the handle was, and so I damned what my friend’s had told me, and I began posting selfies, chronicling my movements and such, I changed my avi, and my face was there for all to see, big mistake.
In my small mind, I assumed the bather would remain online, we would all act the role, go to sleep and start afresh, but alas, it became very personal to some, which goes to show, you can never judge or predict the levels of sanity or insanity on social media.
I don’t know how it happened, but it happened, and I dare say, we have a lot of talented individuals in Nigeria, and especially on social media, never underestimate that.
It started with threatening text messages, startled me at first, but I waved it aside, although it made me a little more cautious with both on and offline activities, then I began receiving phone calls, telling me how It was about to change from “virtuality” to reality, stating I had stepped on the wrong toes, and I had danced in the village square as a foreigner, very weird stuff, scary stuff, scary enough to keep me from twitter for a while, change my cell number, and kept a very low profile.
This didn’t stop anything, I was now being hunted, once at the mall, someone walked up to me, said my name, smiled and passed me and envelop, with my full name, new cell number and twitter handle on it, the contents of the letter is not something I would like to remember or share again, I was too stunned to draw attention, I just walked away almost pissing myself.
I deactivated my twitter account the moment I got home, removed my sim and flushed it down the toilet, closed my email account, and sat on my bed, as if waiting for confirmation that I was safe, and during that period regret began washing over me, my quest for virtual supremacy was going to be my ticket out of the world of the living.
The human mind is funny and deceptive at the same time, somehow I began to psych myself up saying, this was all fake, and it was going to pass, I tried to believe it was just some prank to keep me off twitter, and I convinced myself it wasn’t worth it, I had a good run, so let them eat it, and now I wish it had been that easy.
I won’t bore you with too many details any longer, that night, two men broke into my flat, tied me up, beat me up and chipped off my right thumb, before he did it, all it said was, at least your tweeting frequency will be reduced drastically, and every time you have the urge to have a brain fart and run your mouth on social media, you’ll look at your lack of thumb and shut up.
I never reported it
I had set things in motion
The virtual insanity that had taken over me became my reality and almost consumed me.
Some weeks after the horrific events, i still tried to convince myself it was all a dream, i tried to sleep several times, but fear had become my flatmate, I eventually drifted off, aided by some sleeping pills, into a dreamless abyss I called sleep, and even after I slept, reality still beckoned, I woke up, and realized I still had a missing thumb.
Written By Arome Ameh (The Priest)