I am a doctor. So how did a doctor become a blogger? Two reasons. One, Linda Ikeji. Two, Olajumoke, the bread seller that became a model. It was early last year that the story of the lady who converted from an impecunious bread hawker to a deluxe fashion model overnight made rounds on the internet. It took the nation by storm because it was a story of a great and sudden turnaround but more importantly because most people tagged it a supernatural machination that they coveted and would want the same God to do for them. I had spent several years on Facebook many of which I had spent criticizing sheepish God-belief and magical thinking. I picked up the Olajumoke story and wrote a Facebook post to record my anger at the whole inanity. The post went viral as it got published on several blogs, newspapers, and even on Nairaland.
Miss Linda Ikeji is the most successful blogger in Nigeria. In fact, the word ‘blogging’ in Nigeria is synonymous with her name. Through her blog, she has achieved so much fame and wealth. Her wealth was finally validated when she announced her mansion on Banana Island, the most expensive Nigerian neighbourhood two years ago.
Ever since then, every Nigerian youth, including those that can’t successfully construct a single statement in English without grammatical errors, has begun to dream about blogging. Because of Linda, there are now thousands of bloggers in Nigeria littering the whole internet with crappy materials and generally defacing social media with nonsense. In a country where the combination of extreme poverty and unimaginable economic inequality is stifling existence, everybody began to think they were good writers and thus would make it by blogging.
Facebook lifted the word limit of status updates and we could thenceforth publish essays. Thus if you could write a couple of two-paragraph essays on Facebook, the next thing was your friends and family encouraging you to become a blogger. ‘Guy, you wrote that post? Man, you are very talented oooo and you know you can make money from this talent. You sha know Linda Ikeji. You’re even better than her. If she can make it, you too can’.
As my Olajumoke bread-seller-turned-model Facebook post went viral, people started whispering those same words to me. People began to call me. Some people sent inbox messages. Others met me on the street and on the corridor. They all told me the same thing. ‘Peter, you can beat Linda Ikeji at blogging. Your breakthrough has finally arrived. You can even resign your medical work and become a full time blogger. I’m confident you too will own a mansion on Banana Island’, said one of them.
So I too listened to them. I made enquiries about how to own a website and start blogging. Sharp sharp, this blog you’re reading was up. After the opening article introducing the blog, I copied my Olajumoke Facebook post and published it here as an article. You put your best soldier forward, don’t you? The post started it all. So it was only wise if I started with it first.
However, there is something I haven’t told you. I’m yet to say the real reason why I started this blog. I have only told you the inspiration for starting the blog: I haven’t said the goal. The inspiration was that people could appreciate and relate with my write-ups. This moment convinced me of that fact. However my goal wasn’t to become a competitor with Linda and own a Banana Island mansion like her. I connected with the inspiration these people (henceforth called ‘Linda Ikeji’s fans’) offered me but unknown to most of them, I had gone behind their back to replace their goal with mine.
I am not Linda Ikeji and I will never be. The details of how her personality developed, how she thinks, and how she is pulling her hustle are all different from mine. As I’m tying this, I’ve been to her blog only once in my whole life. I visited the blog when I was about to start this one. I wanted to satisfy my curiosity. I wanted to know what exactly makes millions of Nigerians wake up and rush to the place first thing in the morning. I noticed that she drives a crazy amount of traffic and the model was unostentatious. She posts 25 – 35 articles per day, most of which are a few paragraphs that Nigerians can read in a hurry (Nigerians don’t do long reads: it’s not their thing). Many of the articles are verbatim cut-and-pastes from other sources with no regard for copyright regulations and all of them are gossips about local and international celebrities, articles on sex and relationship, a few about trending news, or stories of oddity and luridness.
If you combine this formula with the fact that she has been in the game for so many years (in fact, she had been blogging before so many Nigerians knew what the internet was), her success story can be easily understood. However, I knew I wasn’t going that way. I wasn’t going to inundate my readers with tons of short plagiaristic articles that catalog sex and small talk. I asked myself what I really desired to use this opportunity to own a blog for. My answer was simple: something I, or my kids, would be able to read 20 years from now (if the internet still exists) and be proud of. And what would this be? It would be my favorite topic: correcting the gaffes in the intellectual and belief framework of my society.
With all due respect, I do not vilify Linda’s hustle. Any legitimate effort to become comfortable in life should be encouraged. However I saw a higher purpose for internet publishing: for me, positively impacting the society is more honorable than money making. I plead that this shouldn’t generate a debate. It is my personal opinion. I can’t say if my prior comfortable position in life informed this opinion though. I wouldn’t mind owning a Banana Island mansion as a writer too but I will rather own a website with the intellectual output of say The Atlantic than a Linda Ikeji blog. And by the way, my ability to be original with my content and be pristine in my linguistic expression tends toward the former than the latter. So I redesigned the template to suite my own goal.
Many people don’t do this in life and that’s why they fail. Many bloggers have become frustrated because they have refused to recalibrate their fantasies to meet with reality. They jumped into blogging because Linda Ikeji’s fans told them to start blogging. They didn’t know whether they actually had what it takes to make it in blogging. They didn’t bother to check if they should blog or do some other thing. They don’t even know how to go about it. They didn’t gather any knowledge about blogging. They just know that Linda Ikeji is rich and she is a blogger and thus they too must become bloggers.
Let’s talk a little about Linda Ikeji’s fans (LIF’s). LIF’s are everywhere. They are those people who love the success stories of celebrities and when they see anybody around them with a semblance of the qualities of their favorite celebrity, they start urging the person on to pick up the same venture. They know nothing about what that venture entails and how the celebrity made it. Whether the peculiarities of their pet’s situation are different from those of their idol’s situation or not, they don’t know or care. They just want to have a friend or family member that is like that person.
Some of them are sincere; others are not. Among the insincere ones are those who know deep within themselves that you don’t have what it takes. They just want you to make an attempt so that they can mock you in the end. Others are just desperate to attach to a celebrity and since they can’t reach their celebrities, they see as you as the suitable future replacement. If you too imprudently rush into the venture, you will just discover that they have disappeared into thin air. Beside talking you into the idea, they have nothing else to contribute. They told you to start the blog but 6 months after you started, they haven’t even clicked your link for once, talk less of sharing it on their social media handles. They will forget about you once you start but don’t worry: they will show up again if you finally make it. Beware of LIF’s!
Because Wizkid has become successful and you too has sung in a few school concerts, that’s why the LIF’s around you began to tell you to enter the studio. They know nothing about becoming a successful musician. They don’t know if your song is good enough for airplay. Even if they know it’s not good enough, they will lie to you and say it is good. They won’t give you money for studio sessions or promotions. They won’t play your song on their phones or parties. Once they urge you on, they’re through with you…till you realize your dream if you ever.
Because someone has become successful in a particular business and they think you have what it takes to make it, the LIF’s around you begin to encourage you to start exactly the same business. They won’t help you with capital or any useful contribution. They won’t even patronize you when you start. Meanwhile if you finally make it, they will form familiarity and claim that they were the ones that inspired you to start. Once again, beware of LIF’s.
Beware of LIF’s in your life. It’s good to pursue dreams even when friends and family inspire you to. However don’t just ride on the cheap talk of these people. Talk is cheap. Do your own homework before you start anything. Know your priorities, your strengths, and your weaknesses. Gather knowledge. Check if you actually have a passion for it as you can only succeed and be fulfilled in what you are passionate about, not what LIF’s push you into. Know what the hustle entails. Recalibrate your strategy if necessary. Go out of your circle of LIF’s and connect with people of substance that will contribute something tangible to your endeavor.
I appreciate the LIF’s for stimulating me to start this blog even though I moved on. In any of your hustles, you too should learn to appreciate the LIF’s but more importantly, learn to move on.
May the force be with you!