by Ifreke Inyang [@Ifreke]
There’s hardly any Nigerian tweeter that doesn’t know Tolu Ogunlesi. Full of amazing wit and down to earth, he is one person everyone loves to have on their timeline. He is a well respected writer and journalist. His fiction and poetry have been published in The London Magazine, Wasafiri, Farafina, PEN Anthology of New Nigerian Writing, Litro, Brand, Orbis, Nano2ales, Stimulus Respond, Sable, Magma, Stanford’s Black Arts Quarterly and World Literature Today, among others. Tolu tells us all about his Twitter experiences so far.
How did you get on twitter?
I think I opened my account in 2009. But I didn’t start tweeting seriously until sometime in 2010. I can’t remember how I got converted. I used to be very active on Facebook, and then Twitter took over. Now Facebook is like the village mansion that remains locked most of the time. Soon it will be the new Hi5.
A lot of people tend to believe you have a cult following on Twitter – a lot of tweeters seem to cling on to what you say. What do you have to say about this?
Honestly, from where I stand, it’s hard to see these things. Cult following doesn’t seem like an appropriate word for someone with only 6,500 followers. What should Don Jazzy be saying then if I’m claiming ‘cult’?
Who would you say is your favourite tweep?
Several. Somewhere near the top would be @BorowitzReport @Queen_UK and @tejucole
Is there any particular tweet you’ll never forget? Tell us about it.
Twitter generates so much that after some time it’s impossible for any tweet(s) to stand out for long. There’s always another memorable tweet/retweet around the corner.
Where does all your wit come from?
Shall we just say God? I love the absurd; and I think that subjected to the right scrutiny, there’s some amount of absurdity in everything. Even in the ‘too-seriousness’ with which we often take life. And it helps if you’re Nigerian, ours is a country that generates absurdity with the efficiency of Japanese vehicle assembly lines.
Have you had any embarrassing/memorable experience on twitter? If yes, what happened?
I can’t think of any. On Tweetdeck I’ve occasionally tweeted what was meant to be a DM, but thankfully, nothing that’d register on the Weiner Scale.
What are the downsides of being on twitter?
One, your life leaks away, 140 characters at a time. Two, you are at the mercy of Twitter terrorists, usually people unknown to you, who rush out of nowhere to misunderstand/misinterpret your tweets, and insult you. I’ve only ever blocked one person in my life, and yes, he was that kind of terrorist.
What are the upsides?
You get to meet lots of interesting people (some of them borderline insane, but in an endearing sort of way). The Twitter community is amazing – the energy, the inventiveness; the linguistic inventiveness deserves a PhD thesis – everyday there’s a new word/phrase/idiom to be learnt.
For those of us away from Nigeria it helps reduce the distance to and from Lagos.
How has Twitter helped with what you do?
For a journalist Twitter is a bottomless pool of resources: research, sources, rumours, procrastination, and criticism.
For a procrastinator, Twitter has everything you need to mute Time and a Guilty Conscience.
Has twitter gotten you more fans/friends?
Definitely. I can’t even start counting. It’s funny how Twitter, fast-paced and random as it is, has turned out to be more useful for making friends (for me, at least), than the supposedly more intimate, album-laden Facebook
Describe your twitter persona in three words.
My Twitter Persona is “Not Necessarily Me!” Yeah, three words.
Do you follow back readily? Why?
No I don’t think so. I don’t think I can afford to. Plus it’s also annoying to be hounded for a follow-back. It’s the Unpardonable Sin of Twitter, I think.
What would possibly make you close your twitter account?
If a woman I was in love with asked me to close it. I’m kidding. Maybe if I started a church I’d have to close it and reopen something out of bounds to all worldly tweets and tweople.
Twitter Stats (As at 10.58pm, 8th September)
Favourite tweets: 181
About Our Twitter Series:
First there was radio, then satellite television, the internet and now… Twitter! In just a few years, this social networking platform has changed the face of communication and convergence around the world. Even news now breaks on Twitter first! As the connoisseurs of popular culture, YNaija created its Twitter series (Twitter Round-up, Twitter Round-up Xtra & You Tweet) with the aim of profiling this New World of information, connection and – in all honesty – fun! At YNaija we think of Twitter as the new, global office water cooler. Gather round!