Twitter is abuzz today with retweets and jokes in response to the press release published on the ANC Youth League’s website by spokesperson Floyd Shivambu titled “Youth League concerned by creation of fake Twitter accounts in the name of Youth League President Julius Malema”.
Smacking of the Metro Police department’s slamming of the now infamous @pigspotter profile, this press release is a sad indictment on the understanding of, and perception around, social media platforms in our country’s leadership. It is also a sad indictment on the grammar and spelling of the ANCYL’s spokespeople, but that is for another discussion.
Social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MXit are being used by the youth of South Africa to share their stories and opinions, not to mention build relationships and connections that transcend racial and political boundaries. It is not the “profit driven media” (the words of the ANCYL president, not me), but rather the voice of the people; young and old, black and white, right- and left-wing alike.
The Youth League attempting to “call for the closer [sic] of twitter” is not just short-sighted, it is downright sad. There exists so much opportunity for the ANCYL to address its faithful, and not-so-faithful, in a space that is intimate and personal, and in doing so perhaps neutralising some of the negativity that many young white, coloured, Indian AND black people feel about their policies and antics.
I have, perhaps stupidly, sent Floyd a text message offering to debunk the myths and misconceptions around Twitter over a cup of coffee. Honestly, I would like to see the ANCYL and the ANC using social media effectively to hear and address the positive and negative sentiments of the people of this country.
Whether he takes me up on that offer, well, we’ll have to see!