Monday, January 26, 2015

The Misadventures of the Reply All Button

A few weeks ago, a seemingly innocent email popped into my mailbox. The sender of the email was someone named ‘Tunde Goma’. Other visible recipients of the email were variants of the ‘Tunde Goma’ name. I did a quick scan of the contents, and it looked like spam, so I did what ordinarily came to me – marked it as spam. Next thing I knew, emails poured in, in droves: “Take me off this list”, “How did I get on this list?”, “I’m not interested in politics. I don’t want this email”, “Who gave you my email? address”.
Why was I getting emails about people complaining about receiving an email? Why were they all using the ‘Reply All’ button? More importantly, why were they clogging my inbox with their rants about wanting to get off the list?
Ah! Hold on… was my ‘Mark as spam’ button not working properly? Oh well, thank God for Gmail and the ability to create filters. I created a filter with the appropriate keywords, and directed all related emails to the BIN!
The Tunde Goma emails in the trash became my entertainment for the week. How was it that seemingly intelligent people decided to take a break from simple logic? In order for the ‘problem’ to go away, you don’t feed the monster! How hard was it to figure out that hitting the ‘Reply All’ button was counter productive? One of the emails read: “How did I get on this list at all in the first place??!! I DON’T want to be here! Full stop”
We needed the ‘Full stop’ for emphasis. Really, we did.
Anyway, what started as a seemingly innocuous email became a baptism of irritating emails. By the end of the week, I had an idea that the recipients of the email were people in the Nigerian media industry, Nigerian entertainers, and Nigerian ‘Twitter Overlords’. People went crazy with the Reply All button – ignoring the fact that some of their signatures had their phone numbers and professional designation. Talk about brand promotion.
I’ll share some of the funniest responses to the Tunde Goma email
Pls take me off this list as well. At this point I’d recommend that you ask for people’s permission before you flood their inboxes with emails. Your intentions may have been good, but this is the worst way to go about it. You’ll end up upsetting/irritating the very same people you are trying to recruit.– Nigerian music artiste and co-label head.
Aww, how cute! How about you take your own advice and not hit ‘Send’ after the ‘Reply All’ button? You ended up irritating a lot of people.
i dont know why i am getting all these messages?am i a politician?please remove me ASAP – Popular blogger
WTF!!!!!! take me off this nonsense – Okay, I don’t know what this guy does but I see his name a lot in emails. I’m guessing he’s a blogger.
Something went wrong somewhere pls like the photographer said, stop responding and simply delete the message(s). You all are clogging my mailbox.Haba! – Somebody.
Look how he/she ended up clogging all our mailboxes with his/her own email.
Guys… Please… Stop…. Responding… To… The… Email. Everyone wants off the email. When you stop responding it’ll all stop. A few people have mentioned this earlier but people still aren’t paying attention. We are the ones spamming our own inboxes!!Please let my annoying, yet clarifying email be the last one. – Creative Filmmaker.
Aww she’s cute… and funny too. But she ALSO used the ‘Reply All’ button. Not so funny.
This is a lot of distraction, please remove me from your mailing list – Her signature revealed she works in Corporate Services in a big Nigerian bank.
It was clearly not enough of a distraction as she was focused enough to reply ALL!
How do I get out of this ? – The name didn’t ring a bell.
But I could just hear the pain behind these words. Bless! Filter, honey. Filter!
Three days later, we were still getting the emails.
It’s Unfortunate That People Don’t Listen And Definitely Don’t Pay Attention To Instructions! I Can’t Count How Many Time People Been Writing For Others To STOP Replying And I Also Remember Toks Giving Instructions On How To Unsubscribe From The List! It’s Not Hard! Once You Open The Email Please Read The Thread BEFORE REPLYING!! Simple As ABC! JESOS! Is That So Hard??? I Don’t Have Problem With Who Sent! BUT I Have Problem With People That Are Looking For Solution For The Email To STOP without Following Instructions! Scroll To The Bottom Of The Thread And Click The Link To Unsubscribe that Way You Don’t Get In Your Inbox! Shikena! Dang People This Is 2015! Lets Be Up for a Sec! -Somebody.
But your guess is as good as mine. The emails didn’t stop. I think Jesus was offended that his name was misspelled.
Then, like a ray of hope in the darkness of my Trash Folder, this came:
Hi Tunde Goma,
Really admire the work you’re doing.
Please keep me on the mailing list, I never want to miss any of your emails ever, even if I’m the only one left here
Thanks so much for all you’re doing – Twitter Socio-Political commentator
I love how we can create gems from rubble! Of course we’re not Nigerians if we don’t descend slightly.
SHOKI AAAANH – Popular Blogger.
Then, Jesus was invited back.
Am begging you in Jesus name remove me from this mailing list – Another Blogger.
Can we take a few minutes to talk about this “I’m”/”Am” dichotomy? CAN WE PLEASE STOP? LET US STOP!
Okay back to our emails, people! Our Twitter socio-political commentator came back:
Hi All,
Sorry to bother you again but I’ve just been informed by Sir Tunde Goma that midnight today (Nigerian time) will be the deadline for anyone who wants to escape from the terror of this mailing list.
If you do not make your request to leave by tonight, then you will remain here until May 29th, democracy day.
God bless
He’s funny isn’t he? Yes, some people actually took him seriously!
Anyway, since we were clearly not going to get away from the emails, it was time to socialize… yes?
Since you people have refused to stop sending emails, and Tunde Goma has refused to accept my unsubscribe request, let us kuku start enjoying ourselves.Shall we start with introductions? St**** and F**i, can you start, since na una dey enjoy this thread pass  – Writer/Journalist
Also, we must not pass off a chance to network either
Hi guys,
There’s a new paintball spot at Unique World, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja. However you have to book ahead by calling 08023500446 with a minimum of 6 players for the arena to be set up.
Come with family, friends or foes, in fact we can use Tunde Goma as target practice too if he avails himself.
Cheers – The name wasn’t familiar.
Moving on swiftly… remember I told you some people took our Twitter socio-political commentator seriously?
Gosh, this is beyond irritating.
I’ve been silent, watching it get worse, hoping it will stop, and now we are given a deadline as though we asked for this in the first place?
Two days ago I did the ‘unsubscribe’ thing that was supposed to be the cure to this madness, and thought hey presto, this is it. Two minutes after, more mails, more mails, more mails.
Kindly inform Sir Tunde Goma (whoever he is and however it is that he even has my email in the first damn place!!!) to please take me off this here thing. I’ve had enough.
Thank you, God bless.
My favourite… and absolute favourite email from the Tunde Goma saga was this one:
First off,
I have no idea where (whoever is the originator of this spam) got my email from and decided that mandatorily, I have to receive an unending flow of junk mail on a topic i’d rather not bother with.
With all due respect and for the respect for privacy, either: give people the opportunity to unsubscribe from this list or remove their emails from your list immediately upon request.
You have NO right to give people you are spamming an ultimatum. I am one of the few who acts more than I talk. And I will act in a way you may not find palatable if my email is not taken off your list and I receive no messages from you or 3rd parties you may have sent my email to.
*cue the hook for Tony Tetuila’s hit single “My Car”*

I think the emails stopped last week; I’m not sure. I haven’t been digging in my trash for a while.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Short Story: Accents of Christmas

First it was Labake, and now Tokunbo. I was getting increasingly tired with the arrival of my “Just Got Back” cousins. Their idea of Lagos was narrowed to parties, champagne and lots of money being spent.  Each of them had a list activities they wanted to carry out while they were home for Christmas and it involved me.
Sadly, all I wanted to do on Saturdays was sleep. Well, that and picking my clothes from the dry cleaners. I had it perfectly planned out – dash in and dash out before the wedding traffic on Oba Akinjobi trapped me.  Tokunbo insisted on coming with me; perhaps we could stop by Allen Avenue to see one of his ‘mates’ from Secondary School? 
Oh my cousin had plans. He had lots of them.   No, his plans were not even the biggest problems I had. It was the incessant talking. He never stopped - always prattling on about how he’s very familiar with the city of Lagos and how we’re a bunch of party animals. He spent the time in traffic telling me about how he reads the blogs and keeps abreast of the social scene by the pictures online.
Yes, Tokunbo. Those are the true indices of reality in Lagos.
I must have grunted because he stopped talking – thank goodness. But only for a second.
“Tope, did you say something?”
I cranked up the volume of the radio. I needed something to help me zone out his annoying voice that came with all that affectation. Was it just me or why the hell did Toks have a bloody accent? I’m his cousin for crying out loud… and we lived in the same house for 17 years.  What is even more baffling is the fact that we enrolled in Imperial together, and we graduated at the same time.  5 years after graduation and he is speaking to me through his nose?  It is well.
Thankfully, I made it back home without my ears being talked off.  I was going up the stairs when I heard Mummy talking on the phone. From her side of the conversation, I picked up news that my Uncle Richard was coming this evening and he was bringing his new wife. Mum and Aunty Rolly were always gossiping about other family members but recently, Uncle Richard’s new wife was the butt of their everyday discourse. According to her she had an agenda and she was a schemer. Contrary to their thoughts, I quite liked her.
She was as quiet as a mouse but with her skin as bleached out as many of the people in the Nigerian entertainment industry, I knew she had a back story which was interesting. I wasn’t thrown by the façade of sweetness but it wasn’t a turn off. She was probably a diplomat who wanted to study her environment before showing her true self. She was well versed in the art of war. My mother and aunty needed to take lessons from her. They played their hands too early in the game and it was why they would never win this battle.
I was planning to sneak out of the house around 8pm but the lure of watching the family drama was too high. I figured I’d sleep for a few hours and if I felt better, I’d decide if to stay in or go out.  I turned on the air conditioning and I was drifting off into the blissful land of sleep when the power went out.
Oh how I hate Nepa. Well, not just because of the unbearable heat and the noise from the generators. Those are valid reasons, true but I hate it when the power cuts lead to more unbearable pontificating from the cousins. I was still midway in thought when Labake came into the room.
“Tope! The government really needs to do something about this power situation”.
I wasn’t sure if it was a statement of fact or a question, so I ignored her. Lord knows it took all the strength in me to bite back the retort that came naturally.
“Oh, are you asleep?”
This was my cue to pretend so she would get out but curiousity got the better of me.
“No, I’m awake. Do you need anything?”
She took it as a sign that she was welcome to sit. She wanted to know which telecoms company she could sign into with her iPad. She droned on about how the data plan she had signed on had been exhausted in less than a week.
“Tope, I’ve spent over 20,000 Naira on data in just a week. That’s almost 80 Pounds”
Oh thanks for doing the conversion Labake. I really needed to know the Sterling equivalent.
I smiled sympathetically and told her to cut down on the YouTube videos and the Skype sessions. Those things are enemies of Naija data plans.
I closed my eyes, hoping she’d take the cue and leave. I wasn’t so lucky. She decided to tell me how the Skype sessions were important to her relationship.
Yes, tell me Labake. Because, just one more time I need to hear about how in love you are and how you are so sad Le Boo didn’t want to come to Nigeria with you this year.
 I was literally saved by the bell when my phone rang. I held it up as a sword, hoping she would take this as her cue to leave my room. She smiled and nodded.
I got up and ran into the bathroom to take the phone call. God bless your soul Michael. 15 seconds into the call and it cut off. Four more attempts at connecting the call and I was able to get the entire message. Michael wanted to hang out this evening. He also had a couple of friends from London who had come home for the holidays. They needed to be entertained and he didn’t want to have to sit through it alone. I figured I might as well go. If possible invite my thoroughly bored cousins, they might enjoy the company of Michael’s friends and I won’t have to pretend to enjoy the company of our entire family.
I gave up on trying getting any rest and decided to put my freshly laundered clothes in their place. Thankful that Labake had left my room before I finished on the phone, I gladly welcomed the solitude.  I opened the windows, to let in some fresh air – if you call the air with the fumes from our neighbor’s noisy generator fresh.
Next on the agenda? Pick out an outfit for the evening. I didn’t want to make an effort but I didn’t believe in going out looking like a pauper.  When you have a mother like mine, attention to dressing is a trait that you ingest with breast milk. Left to my mother, I’d only go out in heels as she could not understand my obsession with flat sandals.  I was tempted to remind her of her current battle with arthritis and how she secretly had a pair of flip flops in the car everywhere she went.  No, I didn’t want to end up like my mother so I tried to be fashionable with a bit of sensibility.
I finally settled on a short pink Ankara dress with a mono strap. Nothing says it’s Christmas in Nigeria better than a deluge of colours and prints. My dress was cinched at the waist and flowed down from the pleats.  There was no need to pretend I didn’t have slightly bow legs so I embraced it by trying out things that were not long and dowdy.  Tiny pearl studs from another time and place to match the cream sequins the tailor had lavished all over the dress. According to her, they were the justification for making me pay 8,000 Naira for the making of fabric that cost a third that sum. 
Ah! The tailor – that was another errand her cousins had insisted we had to run together.  Labake’s last shopping trip to Balogun market had her hauling in 13 different fabrics.
“They’d be delightful in the summer” she said.
Yes, tell me about it.
I didn’t want Iya Fatai to start getting ideas about scaling up the pricing for her services, so I haggled properly. My cousin’s exaggerated appreciation of all things Africa was not going to be a reason to start paying 10,000 for sewing a dress.
We told my parents that we were going out for drinks and wouldn’t be able to stay for dinner. Shame, I’d miss the drama with my new aunty.
Mum said we could have her driver for the night. It was an offer I wasn’t about to decline because if the night went well, I was going to be in no state to drive. If the night went badly, I was surely going to find solace in booze.
We got out of the car and Toks, who sat in front promptly, came to open the back door for us to get out.
“You look really lovely, Tops”
My cousin was the quintessential gentleman.  It was a shame that he was extremely annoying. I couldn’t wait for these ‘returnees’ to leave my city.  I led them towards the entrance of Sip where Michael said he and his friends would be. A quick scan of the room and I saw him waving his hands frantically. Standing next to him was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen.  He stood about an inch taller than Michael who was comfortably 6ft 2”.   Grey eyes, firm nose and a mouth that looked like they belonged on mine. Oh, did I mention he had the most disarming smile?  All of a sudden there was nobody in the room and I felt the firmness of this man’s torso against my skin.
Has it really been that long, Tolutope, get a grip!
One foot ahead of the other, I walked towards them, knowing that Michael would make the necessary introductions.
“Majid! This is my best friend Tope. This is Majid”
I knew I was supposed to say something smart and intelligent, but I couldn’t form the words. My head felt empty. No, not empty, just filled with extreme lust.
“Hi, Majid, welcome to Lagos. Are you staying for Christmas?”
“Oh wow! Tope, that’s quite a strong London accent. How long have you been back?”
Fuck! I’m just like the rest of ‘em bloody Returnees!

Fostering A Culture of Laziness

Writing Monday Morning Banter used to be a lot of fun for me. It was light and easy; I didn’t have to worry about depth or pseudo-intellectuality. Just keep it simple, and you’d be fine. However, two years later, I’ve found myself asking questions about purpose and essence. So, I’m caught in this place of keeping it light, and trying to pass a message across – leaving a mark with one person . Now, it’s about that domino effect.
I ask myself questions about the effect of what people read on my column in relation to lifestyle and cultural change. How are we shifting the dynamics of what we know to be ‘norm’ and how are we making things better? If we’re to be a part of the change we want to see in Nigeria, Africa, or Black people in general… how much are we doing to open our minds to the ideas for change and impact?
What are those tiny things which we do as rote? Why do we do them? Have we ever asked why we do what we do? If we try to do these things differently, will we be better people?
One of such things is the idea of sending subordinates on errands. Earlier on this year, someone on the TalkNaija WhatsApp group told us about how she was in such a hurry to get to work that she forgot her shoes. Luckily she had a spare pair in the car so she asked her house officer to go get her shoes from the car. Then, I asked why she couldn’t get her own shoes? If she absolutely had to send someone, then why didn’t she send someone whose job description included running domestic errands? She retorted that as the house officer’s boss, she could send him/her on any errand. She further cited the hippocratic oath, stating that it was part of the subordinate’s job to ensure the boss could perform effectively.
As I am not a doctor, I do not know the nuances of the profession; however, I have been on the receiving end of being sent on all forms of errands by virtue of being the youngest person in the room.
A lot of people say that being the last child comes with a lot of perks. There’s a belief that the last child is spoiled rotten, and doesn’t have to experience the strict regime of the parents. {We explored the different things associated with a child within a family here}. Nobody talks about the fact that you’re an automatic subordinate and therefore subject to being sent around. When I was younger, my cousin Abemu specialised in the art of SENDING! On days when she was at home, we (the younger children) found creative ways to make ourselves scarce! She fancied herself as a clean freak, so on Saturdays she would sit down and start ordering the minions. “Clean the window sill”/”Did you get that space behind the TV?”/”If I look at that glass, will my teeth sparkle?” At the end of the day, she would complain of extreme tiredness! Ahn ahn! Sister, tiredness from sending your younger relatives on errands?
As Nigerians, the ability to boss other people around is one of the perks of seniority. From secondary school, you’re anxious to become a senior so that you can mete the evil done to you (by seniors) on junior students. {Remember ‘Senior Pangolo’?} There’s that sense of entitlement that comes with a position of authority. It’s one of the reasons why a lot of students are terribly unhappy when they’re transferred to another school just as they’re about to attain the ‘Senior’ status.
In all of this, we find this attitude spilling over into adulthood. But it begs the question of how we’re fostering a culture of laziness. Or is it simply our culture – you’re older/in a position of authority and as such every other person beneath you is available to do your bidding. It can also be argued that delegation of duty is an important part of people management. Some people argue that they need to delegate to subordinates to effectively manage time resources.
So if I’m on a conference call with clients, then it makes sense to ask my staff to buy me mobile top-up for my phone. Or if I’m about to perform important surgeries, it’s more effective to send my house officer to bring my shoes from the car.
Where do we draw the line between delegation and just taking advantage? Do we have this innate culture of ‘this is how it was done to me, and I must do it to people coming after me’?
I know a lot of people who have said one of the reasons they don’t like living abroad is the fact that they don’t have cheap help with domestic activities. In Nigeria, there’s the acceptable culture of servitude. “Your boss is coming, rush and carry the encyclopedia he’s holding, because he’s going to pull a palm muscle if he holds his own book”. Are we subconsciously continuing a culture of laziness?
What do you guys think? Is this OUR WAY and we should deal with it? Is this a form of delegation? Should people start doing things by themselves or are some questions best left unasked?