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Issue 001 2009
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WEIRD STUFF
Genevieve
   


teju_madeHello Guys! Wow, what more can i say but that i am sooo excited to be here right now. When I first began writing (feels so good to say that, like I've been at it for ages instead of a lousy few years) I had visions of having a wide, diverse readership, of writing such powerful, thought-provoking pieces, influencing the world with my ideas and ideals, providing a forum for the misdirected, uninspired louts from whose ranks I had risen, to be heard everywhere around the globe...Well i guess here i am and looking forward to every moment of it.  In my colomn, i will be writing mainly on everyday occurences with me and situations around me. Hopefully my writing will touch somebody and put a smile on someone's face... So come with me as i take you into my interesting world.....

ARGUMENTS YOU DON’T WANT TO GET INTO

1. DRIVING

Honestly, arguments over who had the right of way; whose fault the accident was; who should have budged for the other, simply aren’t worth it. They never end. The average Nigerian driver thinks he’s smarter than everyone else; thinks of driving as a contest and the road as a racetrack; perceives other road users as enemies; and feels consideration for fellow road users is a form of weakness. Forget what the Highway Code says. You only give way to traffic on your left if you’re slow (mind you, “slow” as used here is closer in meaning to “stupid” than it is to “unhurried”). There are few things more frustrating than trying to manoeuvre into or out of a difficult parking position and having to endure the unsolicited direction and guidance of not just backseat drivers but also roadside onlookers (many of whom may have never laid a hand on a steering wheel in their entire lives). Cut your hand; yi wo sotun; yi wo e daada; cut your hand well; oya, dawo pada. Should the manoeuvre prove too difficult, the “you better go get driver”, “mek una go learn how dem dey drive o”, “you sure say you sabi drive so?” and the pitiful shakes of the head are never long in coming. It takes a lot of self-restraint not to retort “come drive me now, idiot”. But it’s better not to say anything. It’ll do little to assuage your bruised ego. The only way you earn respect as a driver in Nigeria is by driving dangerously and getting away with it.

2. THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES Trying to convince a group of young (or old) women that men aren’t cheats and a group of young (or old) men that we (young) women aren’t cheap is like looking for Osama in Iraq: you’re just wasting your time. The female perception of men as cruel, good-for-nothing, philandering creatures is almost universal and fairly rock-solid. Nothing seems capable of changing this perception; not even the fact that many of us have responsible, hardworking, God-fearing fathers, husbands and brothers. To such women, these fathers, husbands and brothers are at best the painful-to-find exception to the general male population. But there precisely lies the point: there are some good men out there; probably more than the women prefer to imagine. At the end of the day, the perceptions the genders have about themselves are merely stereotypes; often deriving from the individual bad experiences some are unfortunate to have suffered. But stereotypes are some of the hardest things to change, which is why as certain as I am that there are (many) men who strive not to cheat on their partners, and (many) women with virtue and dignity as impregnable as a fortress, I would smile indulgently rather than argue when in a gathering of we young, unmarried women, whose individual stories and scars I know a bit of, they turn on me bristling and snarl: “All guys are all just cheats!” Yes, they are. And I never forget to add: “but we women are quite cheap, you know”.

3. RELIGION & MORALITY So is there anything wrong in drinking alcohol? Is it a sin to do it before marriage, even when I'm pretty much certain he’s the one? Mm-hmm, these are arguments you don’t want to get into. I mean, what could possibly be wrong in having a bottle of red wine with my husband on our wedding anniversary? Did I hear you say nothing? Great! So what’s the difference between that and downing a few bottles of chilled Star Lager beer with his mates on a Friday evening? This is an argument I regularly had with female and male S.U acquaintances back in university. Not once did I get any of them to concede to my point that it was drunkenness and not drinking itself that was the sin. Not even my usual joker that Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Canaan convinced them; their defense: the “wine” was unfermented grape juice. They refused to budge even in the face of glaring historical evidence that the Greek word “oinos” (that was translated into the English “wine”) is indeed alcoholic wine. I learnt a profound lesson: religious convictions are hardly alterable. One thing I’ve never been able to comprehend is God’s rationale for fashioning a biological process that makes us sexually mature in our early teens when there’s (supposedly) a restriction on us exercising this sexuality until we get married; subjecting us (if we are to live by the rules) to several years of (needless) craving. I once tried to argue this point and was promptly and effectively shut up. Truth is it’s merely cultural that people tend not to get married until they’ve reached a certain statutory age, gotten a degree, acquired financial independence etc. So its man who screwed up God’s plan, not that God’s plan was flawed. So for the things you can’t quite grasp, rather than arguing yourself hoarse, why don’t you decide, as I have done, to make that one of the questions you’ll ask Him during any of the countless chats you’ll hopefully have with Him in the eternity?

4. FOOTBALL Probably the greatest sport on earth; a game that inspires near-fanatical passion and loyalty world over. Trust Naija to overdo things, football followership here is even more intriguing. The average Nigerian guy: (i) thinks he’s been following football since the beginning of time – Do you know when I started watching ball? And when the other chap, forgetting that some kinds of questions are intended to be rhetorical, dares challenge with a “When?”, majority reel off impractical dates, conveniently forgetting that prior to the explosion in football viewing centers across Nigerian cities, European football was something they only used to read in the newspaper sport pages; (ii) understands formation, tactics and strategy better than UEFA pro-licensed coaches. That’s the only reason you’ll hear some frustrated bozo who had never heard of Arsenal until Kanu joined the club, call Wenger an idiot in a fit of rage, or why a barely literate dimwit who has absolutely no clue who Ranieri is would brazenly assert that Chelsea FC plays the best football in the world; (iii) thinks the other average Nigerian guy (especially one that supports a rival club) knows nothing about football – Abeg, you no sabi ball - or - when you start to dey watch ball sef. The contempt in which the average Nigerian football lover holds his fellowman is only rivaled by the disdain he has for the rival (often more successful) club itself. (iv) would never concede to a superior argument or contrary view. That’s why he would tenaciously cling to the most idiotic of arguments (e.g Cristiano Ronaldo is not a good footballer) and argue until he is hoarse. And when it becomes as plain as the nose on his face that he’s talking balderdash, the way out without losing out is a dismissive “You no sabi ball jo” and walking away. The summary? The Rules of the Game are quite simple: never argue about football. As that lucky Arsenal fan in Lagos would happily remind you, it could earn you a knife in your eye.

5. WHETHER TO STAY OR TO JA To stay or to ja is a question virtually every young middle to upper-class Nigerian has to answer at some point in his or her life. There are many who would never be able to comprehend why some of us choose to remain in this wasted land of darkness, decayed infrastructure and lawlessness. And there are those of us who would never stop wondering whether there’s any happiness to be got in the sterile blandness of life overseas. Why would you trade the unpredictability, verve and spontaneity of Naija for the dreary monotony and sameness of the western world, we ask. Cos I want my kids to have first-class education is the instant answer; and my family to have access to quality healthcare, and I want to be able to sleep with both eyes closed… At the end of the day, as someone I know once pointed out, it all depends on what we each individually place the most premium on. The call is each person’s to make. So rather than engage the male n female friends who thinks I am insane for not wanting to go live with a rich uncle in The States while pursuing my Masters over there despite having some rich relatives, all I did was chuckle. So was this note actually worth the five or so minutes you spent reading it? Hey, now that’s an argument you surely don’t want to get into


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What better way to begin my journey with you than to take you with me on the journey of FACEBOOK ... That social networking site that has eaten into our lives like a bad cankerworm.. It’s now more than seven years since Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook or pilfered the idea, depending on whose version of the story you choose to believe. Whether invented or stolen, Facebook is a brilliant idea (Zuckerberg’s estimated $6.9 billion worth is surely more than enough proof of that). With more than 500 million active users, Facebook has become not just an integral part of our everyday lives, but an indelible element of modern culture. Here are five ways I think Facebook has changed our lives, which you may not have realized:


1.       Exhibitionism

Facebook is the showman’s delight. How else do you explain how a girl hangs out with Banky W at the VIP lounge of Tribeca on Friday night and uploads 77 pictures from the night by 9am the following morning when, considering she had such a blast, she ordinarily should still be reeling from a hangover? She simply wants to show off, that’s why!

With Facebook, you can flaunt (free of charge) anything and everything ranging from the sublime - pictures of holidays with your boo at an exotic tourist destination or you teeing off on a golf course – to the ridiculous – pictures of your customized license plates or you posing inside a London bus. In case you think uploading pictures is the only means of exhibitionism available on FB, think twice! What about a status update thanking “my baby for giving me the best birthday present ever”? Isn’t that, if we are to be truthful to ourselves, sheer gloating?

The bottom line is that we all love to show off the (few) things we have in life, be it a fine babe, a nice car, Jimmy Choos, a tastefully furnished pad, curvy hips, celebrity friends, or a British Passport. And since the advent of Facebook, self-advertisement has never been easier or cheaper.

You may not believe this, but I know one or two fellas who consider the number of friends they have on Facebook a measure of their popularity or success. Now how about that!

2.       Voyeurism

The traditional voyeur was the guy who crouched at the window of his top-floor room, lights turned off, and peeked through a slit in the drawn curtains in order to see the girl who lived in an apartment in the opposite building undress. That form of voyeurism is now as dated as it is repugnant.

With Facebook, and thanks to the vast majority of its users who are bewilderingly generous with personal information, you get to know that Ada has broken up with her boyfriend (“Ada is now single”); that Tony’s Blackberry Pin is 1290A1Z (because he is stupid enough to display it on his wall); that Funmi was at Basketmouth Uncensored last night and thought it was awesome (what’s on your mind); that Chioma’s boyfriend gave her a treat on her birthday (“Thanks honey! I had a fabulous time. I love you to bits!); that the boy Sandra has been going on and on about all week looks like an orangutan (thank God she put up his picture; shiooo, de guy no even fine sef!); and that Osagie isn’t all that into her (its complicated); which are things you really had no business knowing except you are pretty chummy with Ada, Tony, Funmi, Chioma, Sandra or Osagie. It’s even worse in the case of those who, either out of ignorance or carelessness, do not make proper use of privacy settings; thereby making the private details of their lives a spectacle for every Tom, Dick and Harry who signs up to Facebook to feast on.

3.       Free Speech

 
If there’s one good thing (or if you’re an intellectual snob like me, terribly tragic thing) Facebook has done, it’s the democratisation of speech. Thanks to Facebook, anyone and everyone can say anything – even utter nonsense – and be heard. Facebook provides a ready audience for every little, infantile thought that springs to life in our minds.

In the past, the only way publishing your poems could mean more than reading them to your loving, longsuffering spouse and a few kind, accommodating friends was if the poems were good. With Facebook, you can “publish” anything (and I mean “anything” literally) under the guise of “poetry”. No matter how awful the poem is, there’s bound to be some fella who will not only read it but “like” it as well. I am sometimes bewildered by the things I see people “liking” on Facebook; but of course, we are very different people, and as the common saying goes “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”.

Now, any one can reproduce quotations he picked off somewhere – without giving credit to the originator – and pass himself off as witty; generate robust intellectual discourse by raising worn-out posers (“why are Nigerians so corrupt?”) and trigger fierce debates by stirring up some of the oldest myths or controversies on earth (“men are cheats” or “money is all that matters to a woman”).

Facebook has liberalised intellectualism. Wisdom is no longer the exclusive preserve of kings and scholars. Thanks to Facebook, even our dimwit presidential candidates can pass off as intellectuals!
 
4.       Romance

In the good old days, men had no clue if she was single or hooked but set off bravely in pursuit nonetheless. Today, no thanks to Facebook, except for the extremely foolhardy, seeing she’s proudly “in a relationship” (or worse still, “engaged” or even worse still, “married”) is a convenient excuse to chicken out.

But that’s not all. Facebook has also spawned a generation of cyber stalkers and e-predators, who skulk the web space, looking for men and women with “single” or “it’s complicated” statuses. Fortunately (or unfortunately for the not-so-good looking ones), FB has a wonderful feature called the profile picture to help narrow down your search. That, dear friends, is probably the best thing about Facebook: it provides you with all the tools you need for your due diligence – pictures, friends of friends, alma mater, hobbies etc.

However, as with all things in life, you must shine your eyes even on Facebook. As the FB savvy ones know too well, if he (she) doesn’t have too many pictures, or most of the pictures are distant or night shots, you had better start looking elsewhere.

5.       Boredom


I recall that my first impression of Facebook was that it was the most ingenious invention, since the Playstation, for curing boredom. That (rather cynical) impression has been watered down, mostly due to a realisation of how incredibly useful Facebook is in reminding me of friends’ birthdays I would otherwise have certainly forgotten. Still, considering that some people get on Facebook to declare how tired they are (and there are such people!), there’s no doubt that Facebook is for many, the ultimate boredom killer; and that by feasting on friends’ wall posts, status updates, pictures and notes, some folks are merely seeking for an alternative to their own humdrum, uneventful lives. How else, if I may ask, do you explain someone who is not unemployed or a school dropout getting addicted to Farmville, trying to find out what their names say about them, experimenting with applications that reveal who’s been viewing their profile or such similar nonsense!

Till I come your way again next week, Have a good one xxx

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