“In a world where many habitually broadcast photographs of their sandwiches just before they’re eaten, we no longer agree that intense self-regard is a sign that something is wrong. It may be a reasonable reaction to life in a society where extension of the self, through media, is an accepted way to escape feeling insignificant”
So Ruto’s lawyer, Donald Kipkorir, posted a photo online of what he claimed was a very expensive 2016 Range Rover he’d acquired, and the condemnation from all quarters was brutal. Even Njoki Chege, who has to struggle for hits with controversy every week, went in on him, as did Bindra who is a self appointed moral arbiter, that was along with everyone and their aunt.
But I’ve been asking myself what the difference is between what DBK did and what most of us are constantly doing on Facebook: aren’t we all posting photos of the 8 year old NZEs we have recently acquired on loan from our Saccos? Aren’t we taking selfies in our clean and paved estates while out jogging? Are our timelines not filled with photos of tables at bars bristling with “mzingas” of whisky and colourful cocktails? What about the photos our ladies take while looking away and “rumping up” their ample behinds for Likes? What about the studio shoots of our perfect and smiling nuclear families that we post for the world to comment on with feel good statements? There are the photos of us boarding planes, eating at the trendiest joints, in our newest threads, at the steering wheel of our jalopies, in the holiday destinations we’ve just checked into, of our food, our big screen TVs, our lovers and partners, our kids, our classy workplaces, our attractive friends, our meetings with the powerful and the famous, our selfies in which we describe ourselves as gifts from God to the opposite sex and are the first to like, etc.
So then why are we so mad at DBK? Is it because we are forced to share comparably mundane lifestyles and more humble material possessions while he throws a brand new Range Rover in our faces? We say it is no achievement worthy of sharing, but are new dresses achievements worthy of being shared? Are visits to our parents or grandparents achievements worthy of documentation on social media? Is love and pride in our spouses and kids the stuff that makes better material for public displays to strangers online than a new SUV? If this had been a struggling lawyer who’d just purchased his first 10 year old Toyota Corolla we’d all be praising him for his hard work, but not DBK because his is a premium car that can buy thirty Toyotas, and we drive Toyotas, if we drive at all.
As a matter of fact, why are we even pretending we don’t know that we live in an age where everyone is obsessed with consumerism and publicity? An age where the likes of Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton shot to fame because of leaked sextapes and are now role models for millions of others, a generation raised on likes, retweets, double-taps, shares, and the approval of strangers. A generation that has birthed the likes of Trump as worthy of world leadership. DBK is me and you, he is us; except instead of posting photos of coffee at Java or shiny new shoes, or kids in gowns graduating kindergarten, he does a number on us and posts a luxury SUV many of us will never get into, let alone own. And so we get angry that he sets the bar in this sordid social media “look at me” world higher (or is it lower) than those condemning him can reach.
I’m reminded of a monologue from Al Pacino (as Tony Montana) in Scarface: “What you lookin’ at? You’re all a bunch of f****n’ a**holes. You know why? You don’t have the guts to be what you wanna be? You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your f****n’ fingers and say, “That’s the bad guy.” So… what that make you? Good? You’re not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don’t have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There’s a bad guy comin’ through! Better get outta his way!”