Obasanjo’s Internet – Pelumi Salako

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Did you know that there are approximately 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide? Can you imagine all the different ways in which we all use the internet? Obasanjo’s Internet is our interview series where we speak to some of our internet favourites on how they relate to the internet and what it means to them and their work. This week, award winning journalist, Pelumi Salako, talks to us about how he uses Obasanjo’s Internet

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Like many people of my generation, the first thing I do is go on Twitter to see what’s happening. Then I proceed to read the news or listen to the radio. Those are some occupational hazards of being a journalist. 

How do you use the internet for work or pleasure?

I use the internet for work nowadays. These days I find myself disillusioned from what is social media, what is Twitter, what is Facebook? I have gotten to a point where I have recognized that most things going on there are performative. People are pandering to some ideologies, social or public acceptance and most times some of the opinions people share on social media are not informed by individual thought. So there’s that lack of genuine thought behind many of the things you see online so I just find myself disillusioned, not wanting to go there most times except for work.

My work as a journalist means I have to follow the news and it is easier to gather news through the internet or social media. You get stuff happening in real time and you also get to talk to people for stories. Many of the stories I told last year, I got sources from social media. I’m constantly driven to go back to the internet and social media because of work. I’ve got to stay in business.

What moment or episode in your life would you say captured the essence of the internet?

One event that captured the essence of the internet for me is my career choice. I became a writer by the virtue of social media, the internet, and Facebook. At some point in 2014, I had just left secondary school and I was at home awaiting admission. At that point I started using Facebook a lot and I met some guys who I thought then were really good writers. And, you know, I just thought, “oh, I could do this.” The internet also helped me learn a lot. Growing up, I learned so much I didn’t have any business knowing, but then it helped me be knowledgeable. 

Your favourite social media platform and why?

My favourite social media platform is Twitter. And that’s because it’s easier to track news and get information. Also, I find that although there are lots of people who are masquerading as thought leaders, there are still some very original thinkers. Really solid, brilliant guys that will always keep you in the know.  I’ll go for Twitter because of that. 

 What was the last meme you saved?

Do you remember the first time something you posted went viral? What was it? How did it make you feel?

I think in 2020 or 2021 I was the second runner up for a poetry competition organised by the Embassy of Ireland in honour of James Joyce. I posted about it and lots of people were liking, retweeting and  and congratulating me. That was the first time I posted something that got so many interactions. People were asking me to teach them how to write poetry, another person asked if I could help proofread their poem and stuff like that. At first I felt shocked because usually when I published a poem in some of these journals and I share online, the people who react to it were my poet friends or people in my inner circle, then, suddenly I see all these people interacting with the tweet. At that point also, some of those people were just discovering my work, digging up my old stuff online and sharing it. I felt good.

What’s the most outrage you have ever generated over something you posted? How did you react to it?

I’ve never really been someone who posts their thoughts on social media – except for the time I found Facebook and was running riot, posting every hour. I seldom post nowadays. But on Twitter the most outrage I think I ever got was one time, there was a trending issue and I responded to a tweet. People started commenting under my tweet so I quickly deleted it and went back to my shell.

What rules do you live by on the internet?

There’s a way people feel the internet is a leveler and everybody you see on the internet is just a ‘guy man’. I try to imagine it is not so. I try to treat everybody with respect and I don’t join when people are clowning someone else. Even when my friends do it, I ignore or call them and say, “hey, bro, this shit doesn’t work.”

In real life, I’m kind of shy. So I think that attribute follows me to how I live my life on the internet. I almost don’t DM people unless I have to because it’s very very important and of course you have to make exceptions for beautiful women. 

I keep my stuff private. I don’t ever bring my personal life or my friend’s lives online and I actively tell my friends who are more popular and more prone to share stories online not to share things I tell them. 

What is your guiltiest online pleasure?

Sometimes when I’m online and I see pictures of someone that’s beautiful, I go through their media. Somehow, my finger ends up liking the pictures but I try to unlike immediately. 

Would you say you have an online persona?

Yeah. I’ll say I have an online persona but it’s not very different from who I am in real life. I like to imagine I’m calm, quiet but sometimes when I’m with my friends, I can transform into a very jovial and extroverted person. Online you’d probably assume nothing is happening in my life and I like it that way. 

What’s your favourite emoji and why?

I like to use the skull emoji. I use it frequently because of the kind of conversations I have with my friends. Sometimes we’re talking about fun stuff, awkward stuff and sometimes I do not know the appropriate emoji to use but somehow that skull emoji comes in handy for me. 

Are you particular about your feed?

Yeah, I am particular. You know, Nigerian Twitter is a very peculiar one. Every market day you have recurring  arguments or conversations, so I try to mute some of the keywords of some of those conversations. I just want to keep my timeline pristine and undefiled by thoughts and comments that are asinine – for lack of a better word. I recently added Chelsea to that list of words even though I’ve been a Chelsea fan since I was a child. There are lots of people online who always post banter at Chelsea’s expense and I try to safeguard my heart from things like that. Self preservation. 

Youtube or TikTok? Which do you prefer and why?

I like YouTube and TikTok but I currently prefer TikTok because I find that my attention span is waning and TikTok works perfectly for me in that situation. I find some of these creators really witty and I like content creators that can go straight to the point so sometimes during breaks or in the evening, I just go to TikTok for like 30 minutes. I keep going back to YouTube because of work or having to keep up with certain commitments. 

Which Nigerian creator do you think the world needs to see and hear more of?

Layi Wasabi. He is so brilliant. By watching his skit is alone, I can see how perceptive he is. I saw this interview online where he said he got most of his materials by observing lawyers at his NYSC PPA. He also has a very unique way of harnessing his experience and creating his content. It doesn’t need to sexualize people, have women scantily dressed or have to do anything scandalous. It’s just so brilliant and it appeals to me and a lot of people I know. I can’t wait for him to blow up properly. He is on an ascent but I can’t wait for him to become a household name. 

Who is the coolest person you follow and the coolest person who follows you?

That’d be Wana Udobang

What is your favourite Nigerian podcast?

I like I Said What I Said but I am currently listening to The Republic’s podcast. I think Wale Lawal is doing very important stuff there. I also love With An S

Have you ever hooked up with someone you met online? Did you regret it?

Yes, I have. I’ve regretted one and I’m yet to regret the other one but I typically avoid hooking up with anyone I meet online. I avoid talking to people about that kind of stuff 

5 people you’d love to see answer these questions 

Ope Adetayo, Iyanu Adenle, Morenikeji Adewumi, Akinyemi Mohammed, Victor Daniel . 

Read previous Obasanjo’s Internet entries here.