The Girl Whisperer
as published by the Sunday Guardian
of June 29
They Take No Prisoners
I sat with the beautiful television show presenter, Mo Abudu, a few days ago at a meeting with her producers and other members of her staff and during a break, an associate producer’s conversation drifted to that special cadre of humans who thrive in negativity. She spoke of people who are comfortable with dwelling in that eerie twilight zone where half-truths, malformed intentions and outright deceit lay in wait, those who have no reservations about misinforming the world where others are concerned and whose aversion to success is often palpable when you meet them. Their mission is simple, ‘obliterate all traces of success in others and at whatever cost’.
I sat and listened quietly, a collision at my weekly Friday football game which caused three bruised ribs and an injured collar-bone, forcing me to curb all superfluous movement. The truth of what she said rang true in my heart, for I too, have met these people who take no prisoners.
Success, in whatever form is attractive and brings them like moths to a flame, and then they single-mindedly pursue their mission. Annihilation. Mo Abudu and many others like her are prime targets- Any combination of success, talent and persistence can awaken the demons asleep in those who seek wars even where there are none.
In my mind, I thought of all the ways I had sought to keep far from me all those who give no quarter in battle. My thoughts drifted, remembering the many doors I had closed and fortified so I would not let the dark army in, aspiring relationships I had shut down to protect myself from dangerous situations. I have since honed my skills at keeping them far from me, but still, sometimes, the human factor causes dangerous mistakes to be made.
But all these were before the advent of face book, probably the largest meeting point for humanity now. Face Book, a web-based interface created by a bored college student for his college community and now used by millions of people all over the world is one of the most intrusive inventions ever made by man. It allows access and provides a forum for finding many old friends (as well as meeting new ones). I can testify that great, great friends have risen from the many places they had gone to hibernate and have shaken the dust off memories. Some of these meetings have been surreal. ‘Vinuyon Ramos wants to make you her friend’, the page says and you are thrown in a time-capsule, the years peeling off, faster and faster as the mind swirls, remembering true, true friendship and relieving great, great memories. ..George Mashigo, Olumide Laniyan, Tokunbo Moradeyo, Taofik Longe, Yemi Ayeni...The times when looks were innocent and no one disliked you because you appeared to be doing well.
So the virtual device known as face book is both a blessing and a curse. Time after time, I have seen people I dreamed with when I was a teenager, people with whom I had planned how we would make our own impressions on the world, contact me. I have allowed them access into my new life as they have allowed me into theirs and it is a safe place to be, still.
My earlier suspicion when I first saw face-book, and I have been known to yield to conspiracy theories from time to time (aliens landed in the town of Roswell in the U.S.A. in 1964, J.F.K. was killed by the Mafia) was that it was created by the secret service of some country. It was too interested in everything and everyone who called you a friend could ‘see’ who you were talking to at any particular time, where you spent time and the notes you were leaving for others. People could ‘tag’ you in photos, adding your name to pictures you had no idea had been posted on the internet, and making you better-known than you might aspire to, at times.
There are many people out there who will never be able to run for political positions in the future because of the amount of stuff on them on the world-wide-web. One click of the finger and you see statements he made, not worthy of a ten-year old child’s train of thought or pictures taken of him while drunk at a party and tagged by a ‘friend’ just in case the identity of the fellow whose head was half in the toilet bowl with a bottle of whiskey in one hand, was in question.
For those who believe, like I do, in the mantra of the boss of Intel, that ‘only the paranoid survive’, there are many things to be wary about concerning face book, but it is addictive for many others , and they have withdrawal symptoms when they cannot ‘change their status’ or ‘scroll’ through the lives of other people.
The great positive side to this forum that allows others to be voyeurs in your affairs, is that it can be a source of great happiness too- the long-lost friend, the flash-back to memories when the world was a nicer place and smiles were genuine, long-forgotten emotions that showed the real you, and not the veneer worn now so as to protect one from the wild dogs that bay at the windows at midnight.
Still in all this, the Whisperer advices caution. The mistake that is made in relation to predators is that because we cannot see them, we imagine they are no longer there. Often, they still are, only they are quieter now, lurking, looking for gaps in the fence. The stakes that are being played for might be much higher than you imagine. Sometimes it is a wise thing to have a siege mentality.