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London Boy

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How tough it must be to grow up in the age of the internet. To be a man in it. To form ideals in it. To lose yourself in it, find yourself in it and be yourself in it. How tough it must be to be 19-years old now, or even 32-years old, trying to make your bed of life a place you can sleep and call your own. Because when you part the curtain on the internet and peek therein, what you see are people who are having more fun than you. People prettier than you. People who go to better bars than you. Who have much more bourgeoisie friends than you do. People visiting places that you only see on Instagram. People driving better cars on road trips with endless skies and infinite horizons, the small, pretty manicured feet of a female on their dashboard. You see people who can dance gwara gwara. People who attend high teas. People who wear bikinis because they have actual bikini bodies. When you let the curtain fall back, you must be filled with smallness, insignificance and with such little ambition because everybody seems to have left you ages ago on your little island of obscurity. Social media is the mirror of hopelessness. The greatest deceiver of our generation. And many shall fall at its feet in despair, never to rise again, never to live to their full potential because they are afraid. Afraid to try. Afraid to ever find the person they are or could be. Because they constantly measure themselves against massive smoke and mirrors and they come up short each time.

I wrote these words in the Notes on my phone a few months ago and left them there in what I call my Icebox, a place full of whimsical half-thoughts, the composite pit from where stories grow. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. I didn’t know if I would ever develop them into a story. I wrote these words soon after a meeting with a 20-year old chap from Kenyatta University who had sent me an email asking me how he can be “cool enough”, because nobody looked at him in uni or outside uni and he didn’t feel like he was worth much in the social scene. Basically, modern day angst. So after a few back and forth emails for a month, when I went down to KU to interview one of their heads of faculty, I called him and told him I was in his neighbourhood, would he come to meet me briefly?

He comes carrying his backpack, a fragile bird with long limbs that end in red canvas shoes. We lean on my car in the parking lot and he tells me about the cool children in uni, a crowd that he wants to be a part of. I ask him to show me the popular people he follows and he fishes his phone out and shows me his snapchat feed, which is full of these people with appended rabbit eyes and ears who look like they were having the time of their lives. On Instagram he follows other students who wear slim pants and moccasins. I ask him to show me the girl he admires the most and he shows me a girl with a weave and big gorgeous eyes, a fellow university student, lips pursed at the camera. “Oh, I can’t have that one,” he laughs when I ask him why he can’t have her. “You are right,” I say. “I can’t have her either.”

We talk at length and he slowly opens up like a full-bodied red wine. His problem is that he wants to have friends. To be popular. He wants to be with (and be like) the people he sees online. He wants to belong. “You should belong here first,” I tell him, placing the flat of my right palm against the left side of his chest. Anybody looking at us would think: Why is that weird guy touching that boy’s chest? “If you don’t belong here first, you will never belong anywhere else or with anybody else,” I say.

I have never been part of any cool crowd my whole life and continue to have no desire for it, I tell him. “There are no friendships on social media,” I remind him. “Just theater. Like a school drama play. Not everybody will be the protagonist, there are villains and then there are extras. Being an extra is also okay, it gives you perspective. You see what the main act can’t see.”

He doesn’t seem convinced. He shifts his weight from one leg to the other. “Easy for you to say. You have cool friends,” he says. I chuckle. Cool friends? This boy must have me confused with someone else. “I know some cool people, but they are not my friends. We just happen to know each other.”

“Meaning?” he asks.

“Meaning I will run into them in a bar or an office building and they will say, ‘Let’s catch a drink sometime,’ and I will say, ‘Sure, that would be nice. We plan for next week?’ and they will say, ‘Sawa, let’s talk early in the week to firm it up?’ But then neither of us will call to firm it up because we are not friends. They have their circle of cool friends and I have my circle of friends. ‘The reason is that ‘let’s catch a drink soon’ is a modern day colloquial.” His brows crease into small ridges to suggest that he’s struggling with that concept even though he’s in his third year in uni.

I place a fatherly hand on his shoulder and say, “Think of it this way. When you call call a customer care line because your phone has issues and the customer care representative says ‘How are you?’ do you think they really want to know how you woke up today or if this pimple here”- I point at a sore, crater-like pimple on his chin – “is painful? No. They don’t care about it. How are you is a formality. Besides, those calls are recorded anyway and they want to be on the record for being sociable.”

He crosses his hands across his chest, nodding slowly.

“So these guys you follow on social media, these cool children in uni, they are just playing to the gallery. It’s a circus, man. No clown carries work home. You think a clown wakes up with his red nose? No. He wakes up with his own nose but when he goes to work and the lights come on he has a red nose and he makes kids giggle. And these people you follow might or might not have the money…where did you grow up?”

“In Nakuru.”

“I know Section 58. It’s their Buru.”

He laughs.

“No, I grew up in London.”

“Ati where?”

“London.”

“There is a place called London in Nakuru?”

“Yes.” He unwraps a packet of chewing gum. “Never heard of it?”

“No. So technically you grew up abroad, innit?”

He laughs and offers the packet of gum. I wave it away. He says, “My dad is a civil servant. My mom sells clothes. So we are just struggling, you know.”

“Well, most people are. You know, perhaps these people giving you pressure online have sisters or brothers abroad who send them money and they can manage to drink daily and have girls on their tailcoats. Or maybe they come from rich families who send them allowances every week. Or maybe they are selling drugs when class is out, you know, dropping and picking and making easy cash. Do you want to sell drugs?”

“Ahh no, I don’t think so.”

“Or maybe they have sponsors, you know. You know they may have some 55-year old rich woman who bankrolls their lifestyle in exchange for a shag. Do you have the heart to get it on with a 55-year old woman who only wants your body and you don’t have to say a word because she doesn’t want you to talk because she might laugh? Do you have the heart to offer this,” I poke his taunt biceps – “young body for money?”

He pretends to think about it for a second and we both laugh. “You dog,” I say.

“I know some guys who just spend their HELB money to ball,” he says.

“Well, everybody has one loan or another. A great number of people showing shiny things on social media have them on loans. So you, the son of a civil servant from London, do you want to compete? How can you? And these cool people here in your uni who are balling on HELB, you could do the same too.”

[Speaking of HELB, they have that 30th June 100% penalty waiver for loan defaulters. You pay only what you owe and walk away scot-free. But of course the chaps with balances won’t take this up. They will post a picture of their lunch instead.]

“Nothing is what it is,” I tell him. “There is always a back story. Everything has a backstory. Unfortunately we only show the story we want the world to see.”

“So this is not your car?” he asks laughing.

“It is,” I chuckle, “but if you look at my Instagram and you start feeling blue and losing sleep because it looks like I’m having the time of my life then you are killing yourself because I get lots of free shit. Free dinners, free lunches, free stays in nice hotels, people pay my ticket…do you think I can afford a business class ticket to Europe? I might – if I get reckless, but I’m far from being the guy who buys a business class ticket. I’m far from that guy. So someone pays for it. That’s the backstory. Here is another backstory is that there is no free lunch in this town.” I smile.

He laughs. He has a nice laugh; a long, drawn out throttle. “I see what you mean.”

“Great. So be easy, be you, sawa? Take life at your pace. Look at social media as you look at cinema and you will be fine.”

“Sawa. So what brought you here?”

“I came to interview Dr Theuri. You know him?”

“No.”

“That’s okay, all he will want to talk about is the role of Vitamin D in extra-skeletal disorders. You don’t want that, do you?”

He laughs and shakes his head. “No, man.”

I open my door and say, “Do you have a chick, by the way.”

“Nah.”

“Are you a virgin?”

“No!” that long drawn laughter again. “You are crazy.”

“There is nothing wrong with being a virgin. Virgins are also people. They have family who loves them.”

“By the way please don’t write about me in your blog, but if you do don’t write my name.”

“Can I say you are a virgin, though?”

He laughs. “I’m not a virgin!”

We laugh and josh about, I wish him well and then we say goodbye. From the rear view mirror I watch him shuffle away, his hands holding the straps of his knapsack. I sit in the car for a little while and start typing my Note.

“How tough it must be to grow up in the age of the internet. To be a man in it. To form ideals in it. To lose yourself in it, find yourself in it and be yourself in it.”

Ps.
Registration for the writing masterclass is now open. The class will be between 6th to 8th June. To register email info@bikozulu.co.ke to secure a slot. Unfortunately there are only 6 slots left.

141 Responses
  • Nellie Kabera
    22.05.2018

    What!!!! First to comment. haha. does it always feel this good? Okay. Now I can read.

    6
    • Boaz
      24.05.2018

      Cause I want to be part of first to comment on first comment….this shit is real!!!

      It felt like the whole story was my mentor talking sense to me

      5
      • Sarah
        15.06.2018

        Ikr…I can also totally relate..n am not even in uni yet

  • Allan
    22.05.2018

    that one new notification,…ooh boy..

    “Are you a virgin?”

    2
  • Nellie Kabera
    22.05.2018

    What!! First to Comment. Does it always feel this good to be petty. Ha ha

    2
    • Kenneth
      25.05.2018

      Biko shud input time slots for posts ndio tujue nani ndio first
      This was a great pointer to self love

      1
  • abdullah omar
    22.05.2018

    i used to be a happy full filled man until my children introduced me to the internet.ask their mother

    52
  • Maggy
    22.05.2018

    This resonates deeply; there are always prettier, more moneyed more lit people and situations for us to envy, yet we don’t see the tears…..
    My friend once told us of a pic that they took with the family, minutes before, they were all crying because the mom was dying of cancer but that was not insta-worthy; they took a picture that was all smiles put it up on facebook and it got the likes and the comments and she she quit the social medias after that…

    27
  • Dickson
    22.05.2018

    All that traveling and you don’t know we have our own London here in Kenya?

    9
    • Bliss
      03.07.2018

      Yep!!!! Tembea Kenya!!! Unfortunately,I don’t think that road trip will offer to take you to this London……you may pass by London on your way to one of the spots the scenic rift valley has to offer( read Bogoria,Ravine,heck….even Kabarak). A few kilometres from town, on an otherwise perfect road,that has a landscape full of promise for a scenic drive, a mountain of garbage and plastic bags of all colours and shapes emerges from nowhere. A slither of smoke if you’re lucky,usually, the smoke takes on a storm like magnitude. Spreading it’s thick cover as far as your tearing eyes would dare peek. If you still have your windows down…you will catch the rancid stench that hits your face like a ton of bricks. That,my friend, is the grand entrance to London……venture a bit more,complete this description for me. Yes, there is a London in Kenya.

      3
  • TheBlackKennedy
    22.05.2018

    “I know some cool people, but they are not my friends. We just happen to know each other.”

    “There is always a back story. Everything has a backstory. Unfortunately we only show the story we want the world to see.”

    Wise wise wise words…..

    P/S: There is an area in Nakuru called London; and no, you won’t be denied a visa if you choose to visit it….

    39
  • Biegon, Dutch of Kericho
    22.05.2018

    HELB are also here. These people are haunting me now!!!
    Good story though……and he is not a virgin, at least he doesn’t sound like one.

    6
    • The Granny's Corner
      22.05.2018

      Haha! I guess you can see him blushing. With big eyes like when caught with sugar Jar (Cookie jar blends in better) pen. Anyways, social media does that.Show the climax and the highlight. Details are left for those care to think.

      6
    • Kipyegon Kirui
      22.05.2018

      Hey Biegon
      Dutch of where, again? I don’t remember there being a London in Kericho or anything royal for that matter.

      But anyway all I wanted to know is how virgins sound.

      2
  • Jen
    22.05.2018

    I think you have a good heart…always doing your best to help people. It is a trait to be admired. Barikiwa

    59
    • Maurice
      22.05.2018

      Good read as always

      1
  • Oasis
    22.05.2018

    Social media is a very good front for comparing whose grass is greener.Life is never fair, if you keep looking at other people you’ll be a very unhappy person. If you want something just work for it. You’ll realize that the process of working for something is what makes you happy. The grit. The beautiful thing about life is when you want something, all the universe consipires in helping you to achieve it.
    .
    Thank you for the story Biko.

    25
    • Ruth Harons
      29.05.2018

      The alchemist
      By paulo coelho

      4
  • Joy
    22.05.2018

    I know of people who buy clothes from Gikomba and post on social media as designer clothes, or they buy high heels in town for like 150-500 (Btw you get good deals at night in town) and post on social media as highend shoes.

    I’m telling you if we don’t wake up to the reality, we are dooming ourselves.

    God bless you Biko for reaching out to that young man.
    We need to reach out more.

    52
    • abdullah omar
      22.05.2018

      ”london is so cool” they were exchanging notes in a lift. they froze when they saw me for sure i know they haven’t crossed any river

      4
  • Lydia
    22.05.2018

    This is only one story in a sea of millions with the same narrative. Millions who do not have a Biko to ask about their virginity and desire to give their young bodies to middle age mamas. I feel like this should be a nationwide campaign. Kenya is losing many young people in the struggle to fit in. Most of these kids do not realise that it’s a facade.
    Thank you Biko for taking the time to talk to the non-virgin. You have saved one young person, that is a hell of a lot.

    38
  • MKD
    22.05.2018

    I worry about the irony of “social media” and i am on at least two platforms … but yet to see the ‘social’ in it.
    I will force my kids to have conversations and not just posts and likes. That world is fake i know many people struggling behind the scenes but “stuntin” on IG and Twirra.
    Those are tools not relationships.

    #NotAvirgin

    13
    • Rehema Zuberi
      22.05.2018

      I know of a family that switches off the TV during mealtimes to enable conversations. The children are pretty social and conversation starters. We can do so much to change the current situation. All we need are strategies that work.

      30
  • Kimani
    22.05.2018

    If you know how quickly people forget the dead … you will stop living to impress people. Christopher Walken.
    Most of the time we seek approval from other people, which shouldn’t happen at all.

    41
  • Nava
    22.05.2018

    A world of lost souls…

    4
  • Rubie
    22.05.2018

    Nothing is what it is, “There is always a back story. Unfortunately we only show the story we want the world to see.”

    8
  • Kanyau
    22.05.2018

    There is nothing worse than someone swatting your hand away from food in a restaurant so that he/she can take a pic for the gram. It’s infuriating. Great piece!

    4
  • Wangechi
    22.05.2018

    …be easy, be you…wise words Biko…Nice read.

    3
    • Lesobet
      22.05.2018

      One of the top regrets of people who are dying is, “I wish I had lived for myself more..” I really like this young K.U guy. He seems like a very likable person- offers you gum, says you can share his story with us as long as you don’t disclose anything to do with his virginity..!

      4
  • Gacoki
    22.05.2018

    This here… Mentoring. Great! Real!

    2
  • Patricia K
    22.05.2018

    Lots of life struggles as a twenty something.Leave alone dieting for a snatched bikini body.
    Let’s not compare or compete.

    1
  • Vincent Kiprop
    22.05.2018

    The most sought likes, comments, hearts we see on social media are all dings of pseudo-pleasure someone wrote. They are addictive and dangerous. Unless you’re in business, the Addiction of social media is worse than that of Alcohol. I am a year old since I quit frequenting social media and boy it’s not the same.
    Biko Cheers!

    16
    • Z
      22.05.2018

      you and me both Sir, I left and never looked back. Depression is real, anxiety is real. I now love the mystery and the fact that, at times Ignorance is utter bliss.

      8
    • Shee
      22.05.2018

      How did you quit? This thing is ruining my career and relationship. I am always following stories and seeing other people live their lives.

      4
      • Vincent
        27.05.2018

        hey shee, its all about deciding. Its not an easy one especially if you are an addict already, start by limiting your access to the same. you may need to painfully uninstall some apps

      • Bumblebee
        12.07.2018

        Hey Shee. I had to give my husband access to my social media pages and asked them to change my passwords and never tell me. You can do that with a spouse, friend or sibling.

      • Bumblebee
        12.07.2018

        Hey Shee. It was also messing up my career. I gave my husband access to my social media pages and asked him to change my passwords and never tell me because I was really struggling. You could do the same with a friend or sibling.

  • abdullah omar
    22.05.2018

    the internet.that’s right caught in the mesh.lucky him the net wasn’t taut enough to let him do all that they do .thinks it an achievement that he isn’t a virgin

    1
  • Nicholas Mbugua
    22.05.2018

    “How tough it must be to grow up in the age of the internet. To be a man in it. To form ideals in it. To lose yourself in it, find yourself in it and be yourself in it.”

    It is indeed tough, I fully concur with you Biko.

    1
  • Ken Kago
    22.05.2018

    Geez! For a moment, I thought this is not for me! Sometimes, when I tell these wannabes that when I was a lad, there was no internet! Oh there might as well have been but even if there were, I would not have had access to it anyway! You probably wouldn’t have had either – if you grew up in shagz! It might as well have been in London! For one, it would be decades later before ‘Last Mile.’. if you know what I mean!
    Today, my niece, now 8, was fiddling with a tablet – an Ipad to boot – at 3! What’s more, via her own e-mail account, password-protected and all, she logs on to a portal on her laptop at home to check if the teacher posted any assignment. Homework, if you like.
    So, that was nice, man! What you did to that laddie who seems stricken by FOMO! You didn’t know what FOMO is? Fear of Missing Out, you ignoramus! Sharing your precious time and giving him a fresh perspective with some home truths!
    You are not too bad ….for a big brother! I wonder if you have any younger siblings? Were I younger, I would apply for the position, if you don’t have one!
    I hope laddie …….. remembering this encounter years later……….will turn out just fine! I wouldn’t mind hearing from or about him, (you being the agent as always), say 5 years later. Should the Good Lord graciously grant us more days.
    Great read!
    Good day man and great rest of the week!

    18
    • MM
      22.05.2018

      Laddie, this just made me smile hehe

    • Maggie
      22.05.2018

      Laddie, this just made me smile hehe

    • Esther
      25.05.2018

      Wait, a 3 year old logging into their email to check if her teacher sent homework!

    • Virginista
      04.06.2018

      Stop Shouting though…

  • irene
    22.05.2018

    Thank God i am almost 41 and the internet crap don’t work for me

    7
  • Lawyer-girl
    22.05.2018

    Its all a smokescreen….spot on Biko.

    1
  • Hadi
    22.05.2018

    Those gwara gwara people give me sleepless nights!

    2
  • Mauryn
    22.05.2018

    “There is always a back story. Everything has a backstory”. Great read as always

    1
  • Rehema Zuberi
    22.05.2018

    As the famous quote goes (I hope I am not making it up from my head), What a time to be alive! As a student, in her 20s and one who is also in Kenyatta University, I am struggling with age of showy braggadociuos people. We spend our days out here feeling envious, jealous and all manner of inadequecies that lower our self esteem as young chaps like or below us are cruising the vast university roads with posh cars with blasting music, in races. It is a tough time to be alive and even worse, if we believe and worship all the crass showcased on ‘So-Show’ Media. We young people are at a loss of ourselves. I cannot begin to fathom the how the offsprings we will bring forth will behave or even manage. As one young poet called Griffins says in one of his pieces, I PITY MY PEOPLE! I will tell the young man to forget joining the cicus, it is not worth it. Once you join the ‘cool’ people, you will notice an even ‘cooler’ group and want to transcend. It is not a food chain worth climbing honestly, you will lose the person you are before all else.

    https://reshonlineblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/thee-glam-life-of-the-gram/

    20
  • Karen
    22.05.2018

    He should be himself, appreciate his unique personality and somehow he will attract people with similar interests as his. Then he will have a ‘cool’ clique of his own.

    6
    • kibe
      22.05.2018

      not many friends, he should just know a lot of people

      1
  • Mauryn
    22.05.2018

    “Social media is the mirror of hopelessness. The greatest deceiver of our generation. And many shall fall at its feet in despair, never to rise again, never to live to their full potential because they are afraid. Afraid to try. Afraid to ever find the person they are or could be. Because they constantly measure themselves against massive smoke and mirrors and they come up short each time.” oh how true this is

    2
  • GilBERT MWANGI
    22.05.2018

    Wow!
    Great piece about the dysfunctions of the internet age and its effect on self image.
    I like the effortless narration.

    1
  • Joe Deveraux
    22.05.2018

    Timely. Yeah, that’s the word. This is exactly what I’ve been mulling over for the better part of last week and this week. Actually was planning to write about it on http://joedeveraux.co.ke. Are you reading my mind, Biko? Anyway, I couldn’t have put it better than you have. It’s all a Broadway show. Just wish everybody could see it that way.

    2
  • Z
    22.05.2018

    At some point I had to delete all my social media accounts. You sit there flipping through people’s profiles, you see their good life, it gets to you. You forget the good and great part of your own life because you are busy comparing with the fakeness on social media. Then you get depressed, start thinking of wrong ways to measure up with what you have been feeding your mind. With time, you get sad then one day it clicks, what if i deactivate facebook and IG and all that. Then you do it for a week, damn withdrawal symptoms, second week and it’s a month, then 2 then 4 then 1 Year and you look back and realize, damn i near got myself crazy with social media. then you vow never to return again because your mental health is far much worth than trying to keep up. Comparison is truly the thief of Joy. Kila mtu kwa lane yake.

    16
  • Quest
    22.05.2018

    “Social media – The greatest deceiver of our generation. And many shall fall at its feet in despair, never to rise again, never to live to their full potential because they are afraid”. Spot on chocolate man. Word

  • musa
    22.05.2018

    The internet is a whole new horizon for those who do not stay true to their values and vision

    4
  • Wesh - Peter Wesh
    22.05.2018

    In one of his concerts Lecrae said, “If you live for people’s acceptance you will die from their rejection. We have already been accepted by God.” In such a depth of words, it is easy to see why social media is our drug. But at the most basic level, do and say the things that you would do and say if social media was not around.

    29
  • Bero
    22.05.2018

    The constant pressure of a life you wish to have, it’s crazy. You will lose yourself at times, then find yourself and get over it when you be yourself.

    2
  • Quest
    22.05.2018

    Social media – The greatest deceiver of our generation. And many shall fall at its feet in despair, never to rise again, never to live to their full potential because they are afraid. Spot on Biko

    1
  • Ng'ang'a
    22.05.2018

    Yeah,”Society is a market stall,with men and women as goods on display.where the label is more important than the labelled and the price more fascinating than the value”….some one ,a poet said that….and how true is still is..
    Great read Biko . But you said anesthetists have bad hand writing!!! I’m evidence that that’s not always true…

    7
  • Jwan
    22.05.2018

    Hi Biko, please tell the boy,,i want to be his friend.

    2
  • Ephraim
    22.05.2018

    Here’s one secret most cool people will never tell you: Learn to be yourself, do you and never compare
    yourself to anyone else.
    You’ll be surprised at the number of people who will want to be friends with you.

    8
  • Joe Deveraux
    22.05.2018

    Timely. Yeah, that’s the word. This is exactly what I’ve been mulling over for the better of last and week and this week. Was actually thinking about writing about it on http://joedeveraux.co.ke. Are you reading my mind, Biko? Anyway, thank you. I couldn’t have said it better. Social media is all a Broadway Show. Wish everybody could see it that way.

  • Wambui JL
    22.05.2018

    This should be sent en masse to all the inboxes of anyone under the age of 30.

  • Sanaipei
    22.05.2018

    The age of the internet is not only scary as shit because you want to belong to a social clique that you seem to think is better than what you might have, but also because you want to use it to your advantage. To probably create a brand that is uniquely yours and you’re afraid, insecure even, of what others might think of your content. It’s broader than wanting to be popular and wishing you can join the most popular people in campus. I hope wherever this young guy is realises that life is bigger than where he is right now, that life will one day demand more of him that he will at some point forget he wanted to be among the popular peeps in school.

    2
  • John jim
    22.05.2018

    In this times its either you use the social mediaor the social media uses you and you loose yourself. That man speaks for many and i always tell my friends ,some of those things are analogue are actually the best life to lead…

    1
  • Martin
    22.05.2018

    Let’s catch a drink soon

  • Claire
    22.05.2018

    Social media is the mirror of hopelessness. The greatest deceiver of our generation.

    Stay true to yourself. So many people are getting depressed because of social media. This thing is to be used with moderation

  • Kidney
    22.05.2018

    Let’s catch a drink sometime?!

  • Tabby
    22.05.2018

    There is always a back story indeed and not just the chapter we walk in on……nice read though. Thanks Biko

  • Brian
    22.05.2018

    This resonates strongly, difference is, I feel it at work mostly. Everyone seems to be having the time of their lives. Great car, great relationships, great adventures. I get what Biko is trying to say when he mentions a back story and knowing yourself but its easy to forget especially when your girl finds you boring for not going out EVERY Saturday night Whats wrong with relaxing with a good series on a Saturday night?!

    I digress..great read!

    11
  • Bless-Up
    22.05.2018

    I was in the same space as the guy in the story, only I didn’t realize I was. It steals up on you, one day you wake up and realize you’re stressed for no reason. You have food, you have a place to lay your head at night, you have enough money to buy KDF and milk, yet you’re still stressed. On your Whatsapp statuses, classmates with long curly weaves and lace frontals are going to hotels, taking pictures of their food and their long line of friends, while 3 years in you haven’t made a single friend in class. On IG you’re following people you don’t know, people who take yatch rides to St. Tropez and eat the tiniest portions of food that would probably take most of my HELB loan to pay for. Old high school friends with iPhones and Ferraris. You start thinking, not bitterly but not kindly either, about how your parents are messing up. Sh. 500 a week, how are you to survive and compete in this world where everyone is successful and happy and can afford to walk red carpets in clubs’ and drinks’ launches? People who can afford to try out every new yogurt lounge and exotic pastry cafes and Asian restaurants? I don’t know how I got into that head space; I wasn’t really aware of it, except for the crushing, suffocating feeling in my head that stayed with me from the dawn till dusk. And I don’t know how I woke up from it. Maybe it comes with age, but maybe it doesn’t. After all, I’ve seen a lot of 40 year olds still living in that head space. Maybe it will come back when I’ve joined job market and can’t really afford the lifestyle but everyone around me is doing it effortlessly so I feel the need to fit in.
    But I’m grateful that for now, I’ve realized that these people who go to these places, who do these things, they’re still people. Maybe their iPhone hangs and runs out of battery after 3 hours and they have to walk around with a powerbank all day, and maybe they don’t. Maybe after that lunch in Kempinski, they have ugali and cabbage in the evening, or maybe they don’t. I will never really know. I post food pics and pictures of infinity swimming pools and of my mum’s car, but then silently board a Kenya Mpya and have ugali and omena for dinner, and KDF and milk for breakfast. There are a lot of moments people don’t post. People put on social media moments that make them happy, moments that were out of the norm for them. Nobody posts the regular stuff, and we all have a ton of regular stuff. So there is no need for me to feel like I’m lagging behind in this game of life, that my parents set me out for failure. And that realization is freeing. I hope the boy who is a virgin but not really, comes to realize this.

    35
    • Ivy Ivyh
      22.05.2018

      My life.
      I wish he reads your comment too.

      2
    • That’s why King Solomon with all his riches and opportunities concluded his life with the statement, “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity…” and “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.”…then finally, ” I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
      Read the book of Ecclesiastes..alot of nuggets in there..a clapback it may seem, to this age of social media.
      What is KDF btw?

      7
      • naomi
        22.05.2018

        Kidathi kinene fiu

        1
      • Ireneann
        22.05.2018

        A KDF is a block wheat that defends your body from hunger pangs all day, and it is made in Kenya. There is even a song about it.

        2
  • @clif_the_tall
    22.05.2018

    unfortunately ‘soshio media’ has created jealous behavior over illusion. Sadly, some people are envious of things, relationships and lifestyles that do not even exist. It is never that serious. Do not go into debt trying to impress the people in soshio media.

    Nice piece.

    7
  • Mtk Victor
    22.05.2018

    The story is on point…….I actually can’t agree more

  • Shycco
    22.05.2018

    Balling with HELB!… Thia is the only regret i habe in my life! Why did i apply? Why did they give me? Smh!

    1
  • Catherine Nyambura
    22.05.2018

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. Being a mother of a 22 year old…. I know so well how much pressure these young people live under. Social media is smoke and mirrors. I like that.

  • Adee
    22.05.2018

    To debunk the myth that the cool people on social media have it all together, why not look for these insta famous / facebook famous guys and know what their story is? Yes, it may possibly sound like a really boring victim mentality kind of story but it may help guys who are struggling with inferiority complex understand the cool kids (by kids, I mean there are kids in their 40’s trapped in physically mature bodies) perspective on life.

    Good read Chocolate man.

  • Judy
    22.05.2018

    Thanks for writing about the 20yr old. Am sure there are others who feel the same way in that Uni. Maybe there would be better friends to him. Writing about Dr. Theuri’s work would not have been as interesting.

    Rarely would a guy admit to being a virgin. Most don’t find virginity cool…

    Am in my late 30s and I have come to realise that doing things to impress others isn’t my thing. It takes up too much energy. You either like me or you don’t. Even without cool friends life goes on, no?

    3
  • King
    22.05.2018

    You said everything in my mind, Biko

  • Tatia Mouko
    22.05.2018

    Biko my writing role model. You never disappoint. Thank you

  • Wanjiku
    22.05.2018

    I always ask myself and sometimes people that I have a chance to ask, in the old good days of no internet and social media we used to be very discreet. One would be heard telling their kids, “Don’t tell everybody that I traveled for work.” Another who sought a relative from Shags to keep watch of the house as they traveled for holiday would caution not announced to the ‘public’ that they are traveling.
    In this era of social media we announce every move we make to all and sundry, “Mombasa here I come.” “Now checking in at JKIA to …” “Now having lunch at …”
    By the way, have you ever wondered that a couple goes for a honeymoon and they spend more than half of their time updating ”us” on their activities on social media. Do people enjoy their honey moon or holidays any more!

    12
  • Violet Mwango
    22.05.2018

    Very true. I have learned to love who I am and count my blessings coz the moment you get to compare yourself with your friends on social media you are only likely to get more unanswered questions.

    1
  • Karyah Margaret
    22.05.2018

    A year ago i was Him. I envied my friends on social media. I looked at myself as a failure and them as winners, they had everything and doing everything i wanted to have and do in my “miserable”life.

    Honestly, i don’t know what changed, maybe i grew tired of hating myself that it turned to love. Maybe i cut back on social media use. I will find out one day but whatever it was, it brought me, myself and I closer than ever before.

    1
  • Princess Wakesho
    22.05.2018

    Lovely piece.

  • feli
    22.05.2018

    I like what you are saying here Biko. I hear you chocolate man. I turned 33 today.One of the things am grateful for today is that I have amazing friends . When I was in form 1 these two form fours told me I was cool, or rather referred to me as being cool. I must have been so completely lost in my own world because at the time I remember thinking about it and wondering what that was supposed to mean. I joined Facebook last year and right now I do not remember my password, the only social media I bother with is LinkedIn. I have a rough idea of what Instagram is ,but i have no idea what snap chat is? I remember reading an article by Mark Manson saying how we measure the world with the same measuring rod we use on ourselves and assume that how is the rest of the world measures us. At thirty three one of the most important lessons I have learnt is it does not matter what show I put up for the world ,what truly counts is what I feel when am all alone by myself.

    10
    • Vincent
      22.05.2018

      Well said, And happiest birthday feli.

  • Tracy
    22.05.2018

    “Our society today, through the wonders of consumer culture and hey-look-my-life-is-cooler-than-yours social media, has bred a whole generation of people who believe that having negative experiences-anxiety, fear and guilt- is totally not okay. I mean, if you look at your Facebook Feed, everybody there is having a fucking grand old time. Look, eight people got married this week! And some sixteen year old on TV got a Ferrari for her birthday…….. Meanwhike, you are stuck at home flossing your cat. And you can’t help but think your life sucks even more than you thought. ”
    – Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

    1
  • JAQUELINE A.
    22.05.2018

    Great piece! A wise birdie once told me that life is not a competition. Live one day at a time.:)

    1
  • Carol Akello
    22.05.2018

    Had I grown up in the age of the internet I’d have been (in your words), this fragile long-limbed bird deceived by the mirror of hopelessness that social media is. As an adult, I occasionally hear tales from my peers of their exciting experiences growing up in an almost perfect world, a world I didn’t know existed then, as I was content with our humble beginnings. Ignorance is bliss.

    1
  • D
    22.05.2018

    good read as usual. So is his name Josh? since he asked you not mention his name but it is so like you to ‘ …… We laugh and josh about, I wish him well and then we say goodbye…’

    2
  • Benson Mbocha
    22.05.2018

    All this vicarious living and envying the joneses is an elaborate ruse that all of us fall for at one time, try to perpetuate at another, but the most destructive thing is to believe in the hype theirs or yours.

    2
  • Scientist
    22.05.2018

    Very true Biko
    …Dr.Theuri’s vitamin D story, where can I find that?

    2
  • Phoebe
    22.05.2018

    Thank you Biko. This article wasvery enlightening. It reallygot through to me.

    1
  • Mwari Wene
    22.05.2018

    We all want to achieve something great in this world,, but with this fakeness will it be realized??
    I also need a mentor,, talk to me,,,a 21 year old who has lots of worries
    @wakonyuwambaire97@gmail.com

  • Peter
    22.05.2018

    “Comparison Is the Thief of Joy”. Theodore Roosevelt argued that comparing your work, your life, or whatever else will only serve to make you unhappy. Why? Because when you compare yourself to others, you know all the dirty details of your situation or the problems with what you’ve created but only the seemingly positive surface information about them or their work. So don’t hold yourself up to some outside vague standard of greatness. Judge your work by your principles and leave comparison out of the equation.

  • Cheri
    22.05.2018

    This is such an insightful read. Lots of soliloquy sessions in my future to ponder on how to drop the addiction that is social media. A social media anonymous is warranted, maybe on Facebook.. Lol

  • Caleen
    22.05.2018

    If only we could focus on the back story!

  • Franc
    22.05.2018

    To use the voice of our generation (Kanye.. Haha) , Phones and social media have enslaved people as we’re taking them more like obligations rather than the tools they are. Never be obsessed to a tool… It’s for you to use it, not the other way round.

    1
  • Lucas
    22.05.2018

    Social media is like a women wearing a corset.

  • Mushie
    22.05.2018

    “By the way please don’t write about me in your blog, but if you do don’t write my name.”

    “Can I say you are a virgin, though?”

    He laughs. “I’m not a virgin!”….

    Hahaha

  • Nyakwar Nyabute
    22.05.2018

    It is tough to live anytime in history. Chaps
    who were 18 and above during first or second world war, thought life had dealt them a deck card. Then came the era of HIV/AIDs and fellows looked at life from the bottom of the coffin. Now the internet is here as a mirror image of society.

    Shakespeare was right when he pronounced that the world is a stage, and everyone of us is acting. It won’t be long before another fad comes along and every tom, dick and harry haggle over jumping on the
    band wagon.

    Age does a lot of things to a lot of people. It doesn’t matter where
    you’re on the scale. I have learnt to write and live according to my script.

    3
  • Whoa! I like this conversation.
    I think in this age of social media, it would be worthwhile for the youth to have a focus…concentrate more on what is important. Someone said “Don’t major on the minor and minor on the major.”
    What is so important for the young-uns is school, and having a plan or roadmap for your future, where you’d like to be in the next five or ten years…careerwise, socially and so forth. Family is also very important. And it’s important to have good friends. Friends who are not just around one to be cool, but friends who one can count on in the good times and bad.
    You only have one life..make sure you get it right.

    1
  • Moses Auma
    22.05.2018

    The sound bite media world we are all living in right now — can too often make everything seem so easy (and make it seem like everyone has everything they want and need), but really meaningful things and personal accomplishments like what we’ve been doing to get through school and manage our life in thoughtful and purposeful ways, to include keeping ourselves healthy is NOT EASY!

  • alesh
    22.05.2018

    and if you have to do internet do twitter

    1
  • Raphael
    22.05.2018

    Nice read…Thanks for enlightening the young man.I won’t take a pic with my HELB cert but I cleared yesterday.

    1
  • Kareithi
    22.05.2018

    Just learnt a new word, “angst”, thank you Biko.

  • Naomi
    22.05.2018

    Hmm!! I know Dr. Theuri. He used to be my lecturer. He insists red meat is good for your heart because that’s what maasai’s live on and maasai’s do not have pot bellies and gout.

    4
  • loise
    22.05.2018

    I pity the boy, i can only call him a boy because only boys feels jealous when his neighbor friend get a new toy, and what he doesn’t know its hands me down town. He should relax what if he was in private Uni, the likes of USIU and Daystar, where 80% of those rich kid -if am not wrong- drive themselves to school and not with cheap cars. Boy learn to live your life with no apology.

  • reddo sukre
    22.05.2018

    This piece has the perfect words that I will soon share with my little brother!! Ninja thinks shitty and keeps wanting to lean** towards the bad vices from the internet.

    ..and on that stop poking poking the ninjas biceps and penning his smile and touching touching his chest. I felt the wierdness. dang!

  • David Mwenda
    23.05.2018

    true there is never free lunch in town also I have always tried to not focus on people’s lives in social media it’s a bit fake also Biko why do u tell us when class has 6 people left bet Bett will really he stressed now I’ll take a raincheck for this one maybe next time

  • Dr.Theuri
    23.05.2018

    Really? You dont know what KDF is? Thats vanity right there…

    2
  • Moless
    23.05.2018

    Its all smoke and mirrors..Biko nice piece

  • Martin
    24.05.2018

    I loved this piece, the reality social media depicts is infesting deep into us all.

  • Nyaga
    24.05.2018

    “Social media is the mirror of hopelessness. The greatest deceiver of our generation. And many shall fall at its feet in despair, never to rise again, never to live to their full potential because they are afraid. Afraid to try. Afraid to ever find the person they are or could be. Because they constantly measure themselves against massive smoke and mirrors and they come up short each time.”

    Reflect and Think over. Thank You, Biko.

  • Anita
    24.05.2018

    “Nothing is what it is,” I tell him. “There is always a back story. Everything has a backstory. Unfortunately we only show the story we want the world to see.”
    You nailed it!

  • Maureen Andalia
    24.05.2018

    You always make my days with the way you weave your words Biko. I could read your articles for a living

  • M. Cathy
    24.05.2018

    Thank you for this piece

  • Louis Wamukoya
    25.05.2018

    Good one. Continue keeping it real.

  • Kajuju Hassan
    25.05.2018

    Wow! I wanna be his friend too

  • Valerie
    25.05.2018

    This here:

    “There are no friendships on social media,” I remind him. “Just theater. Like a school drama play. Not everybody will be the protagonist, there are villains and then there are extras. Being an extra is also okay, it gives you perspective. You see what the main act can’t see.”

    Dude!

  • Siphokazi
    25.05.2018

    What a time to be alive! where Fridays are obligations to the comings and goings of those that can afford, to live in a South African city dominated by those who oppressed your people only for them to make you to feel as if you are worthless. They drive fancy cars, speak with certain model C accents and laugh in a way, walk in certain ethnic groups just to puposefully exclude you, make you feel some kind of way. And you child of Africa want to keep up!?, wow, what a time to be alive! How unfortunate, that you dare think you must follow trends to belong in this crazy wild fast paced world. The good truth is: you can never. You toucheded a nerve BIKO.

    2
  • bushie
    26.05.2018

    ‘nothing like a free lunch …. ‘ ive grown up all my life knowing that

  • Victor
    26.05.2018

    Sometimes we let our lives be controlled by filtered photos,auto tuned voices and videos on social media that are crowned with smiles that fade off as swift as the flashlight.
    Then we end up feeling like failures with nothing to show or share…clipped wings, we have a life but we can not live it. Yet in deed our lives bear so much inside, not perfect,but that’s the real you!!!

    1
  • Victor
    26.05.2018

    Sometimes we let ourselves and our success be defined filtered photos,auto tuned voices and videos,happiness and smiles on social media, that only fade off after the flashlight.

    They leave us feeling like we’ve wasted our lifetime just because we have nothing to show or share…clipped wings we have a life but we cannot live…

    There’s a life inside us that we hold so tight and that’s the real us yet we keep ignoring that fact since social media is yet to show you that part of your life.

    That’s not where it’s found!

    1
  • grace wawuda
    28.05.2018

    I am looking forward to join kenyatta university soon.. I hope this peer pressure bullshit will not catch up with me

  • Simon
    29.05.2018

    always a pleasure reading your work, very enlightening not forgetting the humor in it…
    awesome read Biko
    PS: DO NOT TRY TO IMPRESS US ON SOCIAL MEDIA, WE ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS

  • martin
    30.05.2018

    I am living in London right now, Matiang’i just burnt those token gambling machines.

  • Mwangi
    30.05.2018

    “How tough it must be to be 19-years old now, or even 32-years old…”

    Much needed reality check for my 32 year old self. Good advice, subtly packaged.

  • Faith
    31.05.2018

    People who dance gwara gwara and attend high teas..:-) am one of them!lol great read Biko.

  • Silz
    27.06.2018

    You never fail Biko. Since I began reading your work until now, you never cease to inspire. Keep up the creativity. Love your articles.

  • Bril
    11.07.2018

    This piece should find itself in those campus magazines. People need to be informed, it’s a circus.

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