So twitter has been abuzz with news of Tokyo Sexwale’s divorce to his estranged wife of twenty years Judy. There have been claims from Judy stating that, Sexwale is a bully who physically and emotionally abused her. She alleges: “There have been problems in the marriage which the parties have been unable to resolve,” including but not limited to (Sexwale) having subjected her to physical, verbal, mental, emotional abuse and cruelty.” But the point of this blog is not to scrutinize whether Sexwale the fence sitter (remember Apprentice SA) is a wife beater but rather the social media revolution that is becoming a world wide phenomenon.
The information chain has changed, paraphrasing veteran Media Analyst Chris Moerdy ‘the Sunday Times story on the Sexwale’s divorce, which followed intense speculation on Twitter, proves that rumour has become more powerful than ever’. You see Twitter has become the biggest media outlet and people can be crucified on twitter without the examination of facts. This is a very dangerous game as any Tom, Dick and sometimes Helen can start vicious rumours which can be perceived as fact whilst assassinating the characters of the people concerned. Media academic Anton Harber said Twitter and Facebook were “eroding privacy”, but on the positive side the proliferation of social media also meant that it had become harder to keep anything of public interest quiet.
The problem therefore lies not with Twitter or any other social networking platform, but the problem lies in the fact that young people are shifting away from traditional media and Twitter is becoming their only reference. The mass media no longer controls the news agenda as much as before, social media has become an instantaneous news source of choice for the younger generation. Younger people are informed through communicating with hundreds of people around the world and not through newspapers or watching the 7 o’clock news. This is great but reference and background are often over-looked by followers who looked no further than the tweet.
There are positives and negatives to social media reporting; on the one hand, stories of public interest have become much harder to suppress (Arms deals, Nakandla gate etc.) , but on the other hand it can be very intrusive into private space of public figures. I say screw the public figures, the world has moved on from getting news over morning coffee, people are busy at the gym at 7 o’clock. We have become the ‘instant generation’ and our thirst for instant news can no longer be diminished. Thanks to the popularity of social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the internet has surpassed television as the place where young people spend most of their time. The argument that social media reporting isn’t accurate is baseless as there are many big factual stories that broke on twitter first and yeah they sometimes get it wrong but so do conventional media (The Star stating that Mr Cyril Ramaphosa had withdrawn from the race for deputy president). Let’s face it, the face of media is rapidly changing.
Signing Out, Mat “The Rat” Mkhize,
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