Mal­i­bongwe Ty­ilo won­ders why we re­ally cast the first stone on Twit­ter

CityPress - - T# -

As any­one familiar with so­cial me­dia must know by now, Twit­ter out­rage is a nor­mal part of life. On any given day, a group of peo­ple will be pissed off at some­one and, as judge and jury, de­mand an apol­ogy and de­mand that they be fired in 140 char­ac­ters or less. While some be­lieve that in their mo­ment of public out­rage they are look­ing for an­swers or pos­si­ble solutions, it is quite telling that a large amount of th­ese out­rage ses­sions gen­er­ally ex­ist within a cy­cle of 24 to 48 hours. Wake up to­mor­row and the anger has shifted to some other poor sod.

Take, for ex­am­ple, the re­cent Twit­ter storm over de­signer Gavin Ra­jah’s dress at Cape Town Fash­ion Week. It was pretty much seam for seam iden­ti­cal to a cre­ation by Le­banese de­signer Zuhair Mu­rad from the pre­vi­ous year. The in­ter­net com­mu­nity was pissed and they wanted blood. Peo­ple who openly ad­mit­ted they had never heard of Ra­jah were de­mand­ing an­swers. As if! Lol.

The news bub­bled un­der for a cou­ple of days, but the ac­tual Twit­ter storm hit from Mon­day to Tues­day. News sites were on it, ra­dio was on it. The story was ir­re­sistible: drama, glam­our and scan­dal all rolled into one. It was per­fect. How­ever, by Wed­nes­day only the slow­est to catch on were still chat­ting about Ra­jah. No one seemed to care any more. So what if they didn’t get much in the way of an­swers; they got a chance to throw a stone.

Re­mem­ber Justine Sacco from De­cem­ber last year? She was like a gift from the Twit­ter gods, a racist ig­no­rant lit­tle gift, but a gift nev­er­the­less.

The PR ex­ec­u­tive fa­mously tweeted: “Go­ing to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kid­ding. I’m white!” This she did just be­fore switch­ing off her phone and jump­ing on an 11-hour flight to Cape Town. Bless her.

Her tweet was retweeted more than 2 000 times dur­ing her flight. Buz­zFeed and other web­sites caught on to it as it went vi­ral. It even in­spired the hash­tag #HasJustineLand­edYet. We were pissed, we threw our stones and this time there was no doubt about how right we were and how wrong she was. Her ac­tions were in­de­fen­si­ble and screen­cap­tured for all to see. Shortly af­ter, she was fired from her job. A quick Google search will re­veal that she is work­ing in PR again. Oh well.

DA leader He­len Zille has to be some sort of ex­pert at deal­ing with Twit­ter out­rage as she has been at the cen­tre of so much of it. She also in­spired hash­tags such as the hi­lar­i­ous #ThingsHe­lenMade and #StopZille2014 ear­lier this year.

Of course, dis­course is im­por­tant and is­sues must be high­lighted as they come. We can’t sit around and say noth­ing when shit hap­pens. We don’t even have to find a so­lu­tion; we can just vent. It’s one thing to ask ques­tions and ex­pose in­jus­tice, but let us be a lit­tle more hon­est about what we are do­ing in mo­ments of Twit­ter out­rage. We’re in­dulging in one of the most an­cient forms of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment, a good old public ston­ing. Whether or not a res­o­lu­tion is reached, all that mat­ters is that we get our chance to throw a stone at the “of­fender”.

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