Death Porn 101

Death Porn 101: A Practical Guide to Clout-chasing and Exploitative Sympathy

Fatima Okhuosami’s Death Porn 101: A Practical Guide to Clout chasing and Exploitative sympathy was the joint runner up for the December 2020 Collins Elesiro Literary Prize. 

 

Good afternoon, students of the digital age. Welcome to Death Porn 101. Congratulations on being one of the select few, hand-picked by yours truly as possessing latent characteristics essential for this special course. Feel free to keep your iPhones and Samsungs handy. I will be your guide as we navigate these murky waters, so named “clout in the era of smartphones” and “exploitation of feelings online and offline.” Like many of your predecessors, you may be asking yourselves the following questions:

“Why am I here?”

“What is the mission and vision of this class?”

“Will it really help me become a sensei in all things clout?”

“Dare I hope to master that art of evoking the extreme levels of pity I covet?”

The answers to the last two questions are yes and yes. As for our mission and vision, I leave that open to your own personal definitions. At the end of this course, you will each receive a certificate of attendance and another for successful completion, but the latter will depend on the measurable results you put forth. 

Moving forward, I must tell you full disclosure that your success or otherwise will depend on how many dead and terminally ill people you can finesse. Technically, we strive for brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, friends, and other close relations. Those are top tier. You don’t have to get along with them. That is irrelevant to your mission. You just need to lead the pack in displaying sadness when they pass. Musicians, actors, and celebrities from television who sometimes brush past you in the airport or nightclub may also come in handy. They are certified clout chasers themselves, so you have everything to learn from watching the way they move. Suicide is our most desired means of exit. There’s something deeply deserving of compassion with this method.

Are you on all the relevant social media? I’m not talking WhatsApp. It has not proven to be very useful. I mean Twitter, Facebook and Instagram—the holy trinity of clout. From personal experience, nothing beats Instagram. That’s where all the fake woke people reside. You must get comfortable going on a dead person’s page and replying his last post, “RIP” or “I miss you forever” with a full rendition—real and/or imagined, of the last time you met or chatted and what you said to each other. Screenshots of chats and/or call records are perfect in these scenarios. Don’t forget to add that your life will be “an empty void now” that the unfortunate soul is gone. Deploy an army of crying emojis while you munch chicken and chips or watch an old episode of “The Big Bang Theory.” It doesn’t matter that you are laughing, you are actually heartbroken—internally. Reply every person that says “I’m so sorry for your loss” with “Thank you so much. It means a lot.” If anybody accuses you of chasing clout, use your block button.

You must post pictures on your own page—preferably those of the two of you together. Use discretion in asking for them if you don’t have any on your phone.

 Always have pictures of people you like, meet or know saved on your phone. You can never tell when these will be required.

Upload a few—two, three, but no more than four. You want to exhibit the right level of sympathy-evoking sadness. You must forestall overwhelming your audience. When people ask “OMG! Did you know him/her,” you must type a bland “yes,” followed by a one-paragraph history of your relationship and the cause of death.

 Never engage in clout chasing via death porn without a detailed knowledge of the cause of death.

Strive for between two and three lines if the person is a close relation. A little more, if he or she is an acquaintance. You are burdened down by grief, remember. Avoid active verbs as much as you can. Be bounteous with your “na so we see am o” and “that’s how it happened o” depending on the literacy level of your well-wisher.

 Pre-copy potential replies to your clipboard. Saves you the stress of too much typing and editing.

Now, death porn is rather tricky. You must never allow yourself to be tempted into engaging in social media clout-chasing via this medium, more than twice in a three-month period. It is guaranteed to backfire.

Try to get comfortable with funerals and memorial services. If you know they freak you out, this is not the class for you and I have made a dreadful mistake in my choice picks. Attending burial ceremonies is key to your success in Death Porn 101. Black is the favoured colour for such outings but make sure you accessorize. You are not the corpse. Be beautiful. The idea is to look unhappy, not drab. Eschew earphones, loop earrings, red lipstick, tight-fitting clothes and high heeled shoes. Be liberal, however, with your powder, foundation, primer, mascara, perfumes and oils.

At a memorial service, try to sit in front facing the speaker(s). Nod your head in agreement with whatever he or she is saying. Shed a few tears if you can manage. Nothing excessive—we strive for optimally fancy. You don’t want to be mistaken for those money-grubbing, hired wailers. You may be carried away with happiness at being an observer of the sorrowful event. You are human and alive, after all. Do not however forget yourself so much, that you sing in a loud voice or accept food offered to you. Have a bottle of water by your side. When the ushers approach, stand up a little bit as if you are trying to dust your clothes, and shake your head. Make sure people see you reject. Hunger can wait. You will eat when you get back home.

If they ask for volunteers to speak about the dead person, don’t go first or last. Be the third or fourth. Your audience at this time is primed for absorbing sorrow. Exalt the unfortunate soul’s praises and give timed breaks to allow the congregation to shake their heads, mutter “oh no” and use handkerchiefs to wipe non-existent tears. Take note of your gesticulations. Speak for no more than four minutes. You are not competing for ultimate propagator of misery.

For bonus points, snap a clear picture of the coffin or yourself close to the coffin. It will be excellent if you can get one where you actually touch it. Upload these as soon as possible with a catchy caption. If you are viewing the service on television, you can still snap and post, although you will get less clout.

 People tend to lose interest in death fast, so maximize your time and opportunities.

It’s four o’clock already. Time goes by fast while one is having fun. This course is more practical than theory, so we should not sit here all day running our mouths when there is so much clout to be chased. Any questions? Too bad, I don’t entertain those. You must learn to do and never ask. For those who will be successful, as you move ahead in life, you may be pulled into classes like this one. You will meet patrons who have perfected and even monetized the art.

Have you got your phones and sombre faces ready? I believe the funeral of our former first lady will be broadcast live. For those who can’t find their way to a television set, our Head of Department lost his mother last night. There is a small gathering in his house. Get to work, wards. Of course, we hope for better bait, so may the angel of death look upon your friends and family with glee.

 

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About the Author

Fatima Okhuosami

Fatima Okhuosami is a pharmacist and avid writer/consumer of literature. Her works appear online and in-print at: The Kalahari Review, Chillfiltr Review, Everyday Fiction, Agbowo press, 101words.org, Third Word Press, Kreative Diadem, Flash: The International Short Story Magazine, CFwriterz Magazine, Jalada Africa, amongst many others.

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