Bayanda Mzoneli

About Bayanda Mzoneli

Bayanda Mzoneli is a public servant. He writes in his personal capacity.

One of the pastimes of the twepple is outrage that is often indiscriminate. Twitter users, as in real life, often get, rightfully, outraged by outrageous incidents of racism, unfairness and other faux pus.

At other times, it is not outrage that manifests, it could be a twar, where tweeple choose sides.

At other times, what starts out as poking fun degenerates into sublimal cyberbullying.

Most recently, entries opened for the Miss South Africa 2020 peagant; they opened on 11 May 2020, and the closing date was 31 May 2020.

On 20th May 2020, one of the entrants, Bianca Schoombee, withdrew her entry following a twitter storm regarding her past tweets from 6 years ago, that were perceived negatively by the twitterati.

Few days later, the most beautiful woman in the universe, Ms Zozibini Tunzi, published a video on her instagram, whose link she tweeted on her Twitter account.

The essence of her video was to apologise for her past social media posts that others might have found distasteful.

In the video, she shares that;

  • she has noticed what has happened to the entrant who withdrew,
  • some compared the entrant to her
  • most people hold her in high regard
  • she went back to check her old posts
  • she found some that she was not proud of
  • apologises for having posted them and
  • hopes to still be accepted with her faults

Zozi’s response was surprisingly asymmetric. Instead of joining in in throwing stones on the Miss SA entrant, she went and reflected on her own proverbial sins.

After reflecting on her own misdeeds, she did not issue a formal, well crafted statement that would have been edited by her media team. She just recorded her video apology, in which by allowing herself to be vulnerable and visibly remorseful, she was incredibly authentic. Few public figures allow themselves to be unmediated and authentic as she did, particularly if they have public relations services at their disposal.

If half the people who are routinely overly outraged on Twitter followed Zozi’s example, the platform would be less toxic than it often is. But most people pretend that public figures do not live in the same world as the rest of everyone, so they should not be flawless, make mistakes nor errors of judgement. They should be perfect 100% of the time, and if they lapse, they deserve to be lynched.

In case an outragist with poor comprehension reads this, it is NOT a defence for Bianca. It is a praise for Zozi. It is a bit sad that a paragraph has to be dedicated to pointing this out. And yes, you cannot be a greater authority about the author’s thoughts, than the author himself, so you have to take his word.

I generally tend to regard my social media as some sort of archive, in this way, I am always excessively careful of what I post. As, and when, I become the CEO of Eskom in 2032, I would not want News24 to dig out a tweet or Facebook post from 2011 and use it to besmirch me even before my first day at Megawatt Park.

Rather than always enthusiastically joining the twitter lynching of others, I often use the opportunity to reflect on what their actions mean, what could they have done differently, how can avoid repeating their mistakes. But of course, I do join the twitter lynching of racists such as David Bullard and the US Police brutality towards blacks.

Social media is both a blessing and curse. Besides peagant entrants, some employers do use it as part of background check for job candidates. So it may be worthwhile for individuals to exercise caution in how they use it.

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