According to blogger Acolyte, “seal clapping” refers to the act of blindly agreeing with influential people just to avoid upsetting the status quo or appearing to be a wet blanket. On social media, you get branded a hater very fast if you dare go against popular opinion.

On most days, I receive lots of invites to events. Product launches, concerts, charity events and many more. Sometimes my diary is full of these, and spending a quiet evening indoors is now a rarity.  Initially, it was flattering that all these people were glad to have me at their events. Most of them, especially corporates, invite bloggers and social media “bigwigs” to their events, and they pamper us with wonderful bitings, open bars…and freebies. Lots and lots and lots of freebies. And who doesn’t like free stuff?

The quid pro quo is that we have to create awareness and hype online about their events and/or products, which is usually easy to do especially if it’s a product/service/event that people will genuinely be interested in. But what happens when it’s not?

Many social media “bigwigs” attend these events either in exchange for cash, or with the anticipation of other benefits eg blog branding/brand ambassadorship, the promise of invites to future events and inclusion in future campaigns, and a few others for the free alcohol. Unless you’re running a charity, inviting a bunch of bloggers and tweeps to an event after 5pm without the concrete assurance of an open bar will get little or no RSVPs.

[I won’t mention the reporter from The Standard a certain newspaper who is notorious for pocketing anything from fish fingers to saucy meatballs (minus the serviettes) at Safaricom events.]

Usually the email arrives and shortly afterwards, calls are made between bloggers and tweeps. And the conversation usually goes like this:

Tweep A: I’ve just been invited to this event. Have you?

Blogger B: Yeah, just reading the email now. What exactly is it about?

Tweep B: Blah blah yada yada fishcake.

Blogger H: I see. Sounds interesting (or sounds really boring). So, are they paying us? Are there freebies? Is there an open bar?

Tweep X: Well, I heard there might be freebies, but there’s no assurance of that. But there is no booze.

Blogger S: No pints? WAKAE NA HIO EVENT YAO!! Bure kabisa!

Plain truth. Don’t shoot me. I occasionally get my liver slightly marinated at some of these events, so I’m not pointing fingers at anyone.

But what happens when the event isn’t particularly interesting? Or there is poor organization? Or when you say something on social media about a brand/product/services that is perceived to be negative, even if they deserved it?

Note: What I’m referring to is an honest expression of dissatisfaction, not bitching about, or hating on , or behaving like a Faptivist.

Case in point, a few months ago, I got an email from a company that wanted to give me business, and they were offering some money. Hey, not bad! Considering that my dearest Chebet needs new shock absorbers (those don’t come cheap!) and driving to visit Clande #2 while driving through what used to be a tarmac road between Riverside and Kileleshwa usually leaves me with a half shattered spine by the time I get to her place. However, I was disappointed with their services, and they got hold of a tweet that I’d sent to someone else to that effect. The offer was quickly withdrawn from the table. I wasn’t entirely surprised.  The shock absorbers can wait.

So what happens when you say that on Twitter? You get blacklisted. Word circulates that “Tweep X is too negative and cannot be trusted to uphold the integrity of the brand so we’d rather not work with him/her”. How about you offer quality services first before expecting guys to kiss your ass? Because, the complaints that I voice are exactly the same as what other people are saying on the same social media platforms. Besides, I’m a generally blunt person most of the time. I don’t sugarcoat what I say. Sometimes it comes across as offensive to some people even when I don’t intend it to be.

Recently I attended an event whose organization was less than stellar. I was disappointed, so I quietly walked out. I didn’t tweet anything negative about it, I held my peace. Later, some people asked me why they didn’t see me inside, and I said that it was a waste of my time a little disappointing. The same people who’d been waxing lyrical about the event on social media quietly whispered to me “Truth be told, it sucked!” while tapping furiously into their gadgets to hype it on social media. No one wants to burn their fingers by saying anything negative about an event, even if it’s true.

What follows is that people become seal clappers. We’ll tell you only what you want to hear, which will be of absolutely no benefit to you in the long run. We’ll attend your boring events, and tweet about the product or service as if it’s the coolest thing since buy-one-get-one-free pizza. We’ll eat your bitings, (the guy from The Standard that newspaper will continue to pocket some drumsticks), we’ll clear the last drop of alcohol from your bar, blog about it, tweet about it, #hashtag it, Instagram it, flood people’s timelines until we get muted, but we’ll walk out thinking “I feel like such a liar. This product/event honestly sucks.” What happened to honest feedback?

This is what I shall do from now on, just like I used to do at the beginning. If I have no interest in a company’s event, I’ll simply send my apologies and not attend. I think that’s the fair thing to do, other than attend, get disappointed, not be able to say anything about it, or be labelled a hater and as a result be blacklisted from the next one.

What’s on my Playlist?

Just a Band’s new single “Probably For Lovers” off their soon to be released third studio album is out. Check it out here: