CHARMAIN NAIDOO: The age of information or the age of the ruinous rumour mill?
'There’s a tipping point at which enough paper cuts become life threatening'
This week, successful businessman Romeo Kumalo and his former Miss South Africa wife Basetsana were forced to lay criminal charges, and apply for a protection order, against a woman who started a rumour that they appeared in a gay sex video.
Jackie Phamotse, author of Bare: The Blesser’s Game and responsible for the slanderous tweets was, the Kumalo’s have been reported as saying, using the hate tweets to drum up interest in her book.
She claims her Tweets did not name, and therefore could not shame, the Kumalos. Still, that didn’t stop the social media audience from identifying Bassie and Romeo and commenting as though they had been named.
That’s how it begins; the ruination of a reputation. And for what? To sell a few more copies of a book? To trend on social media for a few hours? To make yourself more visible by being as controversial as possible?
My mother cried at the drop of a hat: pictures of puppies/ babies/ overflowing storm water drains. Bawl. Good news/ bad news/ sunsets/ rain. Howl. She cried at weddings, often sobbing so hard mascara streamed down her pale face giving her racoon eyes and darkening the marionette lines on her lower face into ageing shadows.In the beginning, my lovely dad used to be solicitous, murmuring “there there” and “it’s not so bad,” and “It’ll all be alright.” In the later years, he’d hand her a tissue without looking up and continue with his crossword puzzle. That made her wail harder. Sentimental old fool, my aunty Barbara used to say crossly, repeating an accusation mum said she’d heard since they were girls: selfish; self indulgent; focusing attention on yourself as usual Norma Therese Maharaj! My mother’s sister never used Mum’s married surname when giving her a bollocking over some perceived transgression. Of course this made my poor mum whimper. So when, four days before Christmas, we f...