Sunday, 17 August 2014

Ghanaian Trolls, Almost All You Need to Know

Trolling is an art and I don't mean to brag but i'm good at it. I was trolling long before trolling was cool. Social media just gave me the platform to take my talent to places that hitherto I couldn't. Back in the old days, trolling was considered a noble art and us trolls had a lot of respect. These days, the profession is full of glory hunters who have no respect for the etiquettes of the job. The rise of these glory hunters has led to a sort of uprising from the trolled.

If you have to use profanities or insulting words then trolling is not your calling. If you have to think too long for a witty come back, trolling is not for you too. True troll’s stings are instant and comes from using their targets words or mistake against them. In a way a troll is a predator lurking somewhere near by just waiting to pounce.

Most of best Ghanaian trolls reside on twitter. It's amazing how much sting one can fit into 140 characters or less.

Meme Makers
@Qwestmatic and @Mike_Nkansah were meme lords extraordinaire long before the "abrokyire" memes, vines and GIFs flooded the local meme industry. Like the cheap imported Chinese fabrics that have virtually collapsed the local textile industry, these foreign memes have threatened to kill the local meme-generating sector. These two, in addition to the new-age cohort of meme-generators have, however, held their own by providing Gh Twitter with all-purpose as well as specific memes.

Long before I knew they were called memes, @QwestMatic was making them. Qwest is the Rumpelstiltskin of memes. He turns innocent looking pictures into hilarious memes. He'll make you famous for reasons you might not be too pleased about. His meme are not generic memes of people who live far off in other countries.  They are of people well known on Gh twitter. By crudely photoshopping regular pictures, he’s able to caricature even the most respectable people and turn them into laughing stocks. He introduced us to twitter story telling an art which has become popular especially after any twitter organized event or controversy.
The secret to being a renowned meme legend probably lies in having a huge meme arsenal or the ability to generate one within a time that the tweet it is in response to is still viable. These trolls can even fit a meme to your harmless "Good morning" tweet and invite "strangers" into your mentions with their [insert laughing and crying emoji].

Meme generation is a high level specialist troll group which requires the actors in this group to identify and highlight the funny undertones in supposedly ordinary everyday photos like Twitter event shots and your Facebook "blasts-from-the-past" photos. A picture says a thousand words, but a picture with words say a thousand and one words; that is how influential these troll memes can be.

Sports Trolls:
Meet @Stayne_ a Manchester United fan who lives to torment Liverpool Fans, Arsenal fans and any other fan that dares to usurp his dear club's throne. This fellow takes more pleasure in seeing rival teams lose than seeing his own team win.  In the 2013/2014 Premier League season, Man U led by David Moyes were having a terrible season and Liverpool looked all set to win the league. For Stayne, the thought of Liverpool winning the league hurt far more than his team at seventh place. Liverpool somehow managed to throw away their lead thanks to a slip by their captain and talisman Stevie Gerrard.

The misery of Liverpool fans nourished him. He took great joy in reminding Liverpool fans how Man U castaways like Bebe, Don Fangzhuo and the likes had more premier league medals than their great captain. 
His account was recently suspended for five days after Liverpool fans worldwide reported him as spam. After the account was unblocked, he continued where he left off, unrepentant. He' is like a plague, sent by the gods of football to torment everyone else. 

Snake Under Grass:
They look like mild mannered tweeps until they are not. Their Clark Kent to Superman transformation always catches you by surprised. Meet @Quasiadu, snake under grass troll numero uno. He's the puppet master behind the Against Supporters Union (ASU).  He and his legion of trolls only exist to cheer whichever team is playing against your favorite team. The 2013/2014 EPL season was filled with glory days thanks to David Moyes and Stevie Gerrard. Jose Mourinho going trophiless was an extra bonus.

The Snake Under Grass' favorite victims are other sports trolls. Members of ASU were constantly pitching camp in Stayne's mentions.

@Quasiadu and @Stayne_ achieved international notoriety during the London Olympic games when Nigeria played against the USA in basketball. Their constant trolling of the Nigerian team's abysmal performance didn't sit too well with Nigeria twitter. This led to a fully fledged war between Gh and 9ja twitter. At the peak of the hostilities, these two left the battlefield for some high ground so they could admire the chaos. Nero, watching as Rome burned.

Grammar Nazis:
That’s what everyone calls them, probably because they want to purge the world of all bad grammar users. These groups of trolls are mainly opportunistic hunters. They mind their own business till someone makes a spelling mistake or grammatical error then they pounce. There used to be accounts that were solely dedicated to this form of trolling but they seem to have faded away. Grammar Nazis are probably the most tolerated kind of troll, that is until you are the one being trolled.
I’ve noticed that the quality of English written on twitter has improved a lot late. Either the trolls have scared people into writing proper English or they driven the bad nuts away. Once in a while though, you still find someone writing something so terrible, you can’t help trolling no matter who you are.

Once in a while, someone types some gibberish that even the Grammar Nazis refuse to touch.

Religious Trolls:
Religious trolls fall into two categories, Atheists and Christians. For some reason people of other religions don't seem to troll as much and Atheists seem more interested in hounding Christians.
The Christian troll's favorite word is “Blasphemy”. They can't take a joke. They appear uninvited in conversations that have nothing to do with them and start asking you to repent. These are not your regular Everybody-is-Holy-on-Sunday-Christians. When they are not hounding everyone else with random Bible verses, they are tweeting things like, “The sun doesn’t shine at night so retweet if you love Jesus”.

All atheists on twitter seem to know each other and the moment one of them enters your mentions, there rest follow and pitch camp. I really don’t get the Christian versus Atheist debate. The Christians won’t be convinced there is no God and the atheists won’t be convinced there is.

In the end, they are more alike than they like to admit. They are all trying to shove their opinions down your throat.  

Technically there’s a third group. The confused ones. They are on the atheist bandwagon because they think it’s cool but don’t understand the basic principles. Funny thing is they are more aggressive than the true atheist and are always in an argument with someone and contradicting themselves. You have to admire their misguided determination.

Bloggers and Mixtapers:
Technically these guys should be considered as spammers but let’s just call them trolls. The only difference between Bloggers and Mixtapers is that you probably follow the Blogger and have no idea how the Mixtaper appeared in your mentions. Mixtapers are among the most slandered people on Gh twitter but they have tough skins and don’t really mind the abuse.

Annoying People and Parody Accounts:
This account, @SkuBoye, is rated 18, NSFW and generally anything that children shouldn’t be looking at. He account was suspended but he came back with another and just continued being annoying. His over the top trolling of has led to some really epic responses from some Ghanaian celebrities.
Jon Germain's respond to SkuBoye's tweet led to the hashtag #JonGermainCanFind

@pweedyella is not as X-rated as @SkuBoye but no less annoying. I’m not sure if the person behind the account is a he or a she but the person definitely has no sense of moderation when it comes to trolling.

As far as I know this is the only spoof site in Ghana.  They take serious topics and turn them into jokes. In a country where serious topics are a joke anyway, this account isn’t running out of topics anytime soon. It’s always interesting when people take a story from YesiYesi seriously. Very often, news sites will take a story from this spoof account seriously and repost it as news. Your favorite Ghanaian politician or celebrity has probably been ridiculed by YesiYesi more than once. 

Do Not Feed the Trolls:
Do not fight with trolls unless you can knock them out. People might not be paying attention to what is going on but will drop everything to come watch a fight. They might not agree with what the troll is saying but will immediately gang up on you if you get abusive.

However, if you manage to give the troll a good punch they will carry you shoulder high and then turn on the troll. Twitter folks are fickle. They are just here for the thrill. Whoever is providing it gets their support regardless of who is right or wrong.
@NiiLexis spent a lot of time trolling Guinness until one day this happened...
Unfortunately, the Guinness Ghana account was closed down not long after but they definitely gained the respect of Gh twitter folks after that epic comeback.

By popular request I'm adding this guy, sigh. I really want to say something nice or funny about this guy but I keep drawing blanks. There are annoying people, there are arseholes and then there is @Kwakutii. From all indications he's an intelligent guy but as someone said, he doesn't have 'Efie Nyansa' (wisdom). His insensitivity, ridiculously entrenched positions and know-it-all attitude rapidly earned him infamy on Gh twitter. This guy just gave trolls a bad name.

This guy was was the most blocked person on Gh twitter. From celebs to sports men and even people who knew him personally, everyone was blocking him. I'm not sure why I followed him for so long but I finally had to block him after he made some insensitive remarks to a friend about a family member she had lost less than 24 hours earlier. His account is no longer active on twitter, I don't know if twitter suspended his account or what but i'm not too perturbed.

Hasta la vista @Kwakutii, you won't be missed

Don’t bother explaining. Twitter folks don’t care. Sarkodie’s Irish cream line at on BET Chypher was a trolls delight and Sarkodie’s attempt to explain it led to more trolling than he expected.

Follow these accounts if you are brave enough but don't say i didn't warn you.

Any other kind of troll i forgot about? Leave that as a comment


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Ebola, Rumor has it...

Eating cola nuts cures Ebola, according to rumors flying around in Ghana, at least. First I found this hilarious. Surely, no one would believe this. However, it stopped being funny when I found out how wide spread this rumor was. I heard some radio stations and TV stations had aired this. This is just one of the many ridiculous stories making the rounds about Ebola, AIDS, Cholera and most deadly diseases. The problem with this is Ghanaians tend to believe unfounded rumors more than scientific facts. People will turn down conventional medicine but religiously apply these strange 'remedies' and end up dying with discolored teeth to show for their troubles.

I investigated where these rumors started and found out there was a chain message going round on WhatsApp. One of those annoying, “Forward this to 10 people and see what happens” kind. Why anyone will take those things serious is beyond me. Anyway, so I kept searching and finally came across the name Dr Maurice Iwu, a Nigerian. His claims aren’t supported by anyone else and various medical groups in Nigeria have come out to refute his claims. It took me a whole 10 minutes to find this out. So why couldn’t radio and TV stations investigate before putting these stories out there? Have they forgotten the Fauster Atta Mensah debacle so soon?

Meanwhile, in Nigeria where the cola nut cure is supposed to have originated, they believe salt and not cola nut is the cure for Ebola. Salt sellers couldn’t be more pleased. I heard that people have been adding caps of salt to bathing water. People have taken to drinking salt water and over salting their meals in an attempt to avoid the deadly disease.

Then there are the spiritual solutions. Whenever there's a tragedy that grabs wide attention, all manners of “spiritual gurus” pop up in an attempt to make a name for themselves. Recently, a witch doctor lost his not-so-hard earned reputation when he nearly drowned. He had been called upon to act on his claim that he had incantations with which he could communicate with spirits to release the body of the allegedly drowned afro-pop musician, Castro. The irony. As a Christian, when pastors cash in on disasters for personal glory, I get very angry.

There are two groups of pastors when it comes to cashing in on disasters. There are those who swear they are experts in eschatology and always claim every disaster is a sign of the End Times. These people keep predicting the end of the world and well, we are still here. I’ve heard a few pastors on radio say that Ebola is punishment from God because of homosexuals. Another said it was one of the prophesied pestilences that herald the Second Coming of Christ. This group is generally annoying but not as dangerous as the second group.
The second group, which in my opinion is the more dangerous, is the ‘Miracle Workers’. These pastors claim they can cure anything. A few years ago, there was one group that refused to have their children immunized against poliobecause their religious leaders told them not to. Polio would probably have been completely eliminated if not for such groups.

People are dying from diseases that could have been cured if people sought early help instead of spiritual solutions. Sick people are traveling all the way from Ghana to Nigeria to consult pastors when a hospital is nearer. For me this is frustrating. My opinion is that these religious leaders should be arrested and charged with murder any time one of these people dies. One of the most annoying things about people who seek spiritual solution is, whenever the said patient is about to die, they manage to take the person to the hospital. By which time, it is usually too late for the doctors to do anything. If however, the doctor manages to save the patient, you see them in the churches of these charlatans giving thanks to the pastor for saving their lives.
In recent times, there’s been a new group of conspiracy theorist. Their mantra goes something like, “So-so-and-so disease was created in the lab by white people to kill black people”. For me these people are just entertaining. I love listening to them spew big words and twisted scientific concepts to suit their arguments.
Two Americans are reportedly responding to an experimental Ebola medication.  Obama recently said, the cure isn’t ready for Africa yet. "They conduct dangerous drug trails on unsuspecting Africans all the time but the one that actually works they won’t try on us?", was what one said to me. Conspiracy theorist had a field day. I honestly have no opinion. I just want a proven cure made available.

So if rumors are to be believed, no disease is caused naturally by pathogens. Certainly not Ebola. It’s either spiritual or artificial. People have been advised to stay away from bush meat but knowing they can’t be bothered. They hold fast to their archaic views to either cause panic or to holding on to some ridiculous cure claim.

Anyone who knows me would know I’m a bit of a germaphobe. Ever since the Ebola rumors started I’ve been overdosing on hand sanitizers, bathing every time I get back home no matter how brief I was outdoors and staying away from anything I didn't cook myself.

If you ever meet me don’t offer to give me a hug or handshake. Stay a safe distance and throw me a peace sign. Peace!

what is the strangest thing you've heard about Ebola? Please share