trolls twitter tweet social media
Photo Cred: Social Media

Even though the “sticks and stones” theory means words shouldn’t get to us, they do. They always do. Words are so powerful… they can be used to build each other up or crush us into a million pieces (and trolls love the crushing part).

 

Johannesburg, South Africa (24 May 2022) – I woke up this morning feeling a little down; I tweeted yesterday about the R450 million Ferris Wheel that is being planned for Durban and how the government are ululating at the idea… even now while KwaZulu-Natal is facing mass devastation from another tragic storm, and a few trolls decided to share their toxicity with me.

You see, the communication around the R450 million Ferris Wheel has been very messy, as Nicole Graham – Leader of the Democratic Alliance in eThekwini – pointed out late last night.

“The Durban Eye/ Ferris Wheel is not being funded by municipal or public money. The city is releasing the land to a developer who will develop, fund and operate it. The PR of the whole thing has been absolutely awful and the timing is atrocious but this is not municipal spending. Much like the one at V&A and all over the world, big-ticket tourist attractions are necessary. Durban’s problem is that we can’t have big-ticket items but bugger up all the basics and expect tourists to still visit. But the R450 million is the anticipated private investment.”

“This city is in serious trouble and almost everything no longer works as it should. People don’t trust anything the city says or does. I made the point to city management a few days ago that there was unnecessary anger over the Durban Eye because it was so badly communicated.”

And that’s when I found myself on “toxic twitter”, where random strangers revel in calling people the most disgusting names because they disagree with an opinion. It’s so gross.

“It’s private money you f**king idiot.”

“Learn to read a**hole.”

“C**T.”

So, I got it wrong, it’s not our tax money being used to fund the Ferris Wheel, but it is an odd time for the Government to be discussing a massive tourist attraction, and not just because we are in a “flag pole hangover” but it’s also a time when roads, homes, sewerage infrastructure and the basic needs of many people in Durban have been washed away. Also, who is this private investor? Do you trust that the government is telling the truth? Why are they giving the land away for free? Who will own this land now? So many questions… so few characters to use when tweeting.

Anyway, I deleted the tweet (many people don’t know this, but you can delete posts when you no longer want to be pulled into other people’s toxicity) and perused my Facebook. The first thing that popped up was my “memories” and exactly a year ago – to the day – I was dealing with internet trolls and how, with the help of My Kitchen Rules, Pink, and my Mom, I got through it.

Also, the fact that Nicole Graham’s tweet helped clear things up is not lost on me… she was on My Kitchen Rules with me. The universe is pretty spectacular and I absolutely love it.

Facebook Memories and Internet Trolls

Jussie man, the last couple of days have been really tough… like really tough… like hanging on by a thin-thin thread tough, and I’ve had to deal with some really ugly stuff, but with the help of My Kitchen Rules, Pink, and my Mom, I got through it.

What a weird combination, but I guess it comes down to lessons I’ve learnt, perspective and an incredible support system.

So here goes:

Working in the social space puts me in a really precarious situation. I am constantly “out there”, which is great because that means so many people get to see the good news we write (sometimes over 20 million a month), which is exactly why I started doing what I do… to remind South Africans that good things are happening in our country BUT now and then, the trolls come out from under their bridges and use me as an emotional punching bag for their fears and insecurities. And I mean ugly, ugly stuff. You would be disgusted if I showed you some of the ugliness that is thrown my way. Some even push their keyboards aside and choose to say the worst things about me in real life – some who I once called friends.

So ja, the last week I had to face real hate, and even though the “sticks and stones” theory means words shouldn’t get to us, they do. They always do. Words are so powerful… they can be used to build each other up or crush us into a million pieces.

How My Kitchen Rules fits in:

A couple of years ago, Andrew Ross and I were on a reality cooking show. We had made it through the first part of the competition and moved out of our homes and into the kitchen section, but the first task was not in a kitchen… it was in the Zoo, and we were told to cook pizzas on a Webber.

It was awful. Making dough in the sun is not fun. Trying to be clever and choosing to make “pizza-cones” was not fun (or smart), and it was a really stressful day. In the end, we were very close to the bottom team, and I was distraught. I climbed into the Uber and sobbed. So much was going on in my head.

I was properly heartbroken.

It was at that moment that Andrew reminded me that the entire thing was not real. This idea that I had let someone down was a narrative I had created in my own head, and we had a choice to either be sucked into the stressful unreal “bubble” that was being created around us, or we could see it as a ‘once in a lifetime adventure’ where we could choose what actually mattered to us.

It was that day that the entire experience changed for me, and it became one of the best things I have ever done. I chose for that “bubble” to be fun… and so it was.

my kitchen rules mkrsa pork #MKRSA
Photo Cred: My Kitchen Rules

And then there is Pink and my mom:

Last week my mom called, “Pink has just released a new documentary movie, so I am coming over this weekend so we can watch it on your Amazon thing.”

So we did. We got snacks and ordered take-aways, and poured a glass of wine (I did anyway). A whole Sunday with my mom. What a beautiful way to fill my cup.

I didn’t know what to expect, I’ve always liked Pink and enjoyed her music, but there were so many poignant moments in “her road to Wembley”. It truly was an incredibly inspirational documentary. She is a really good mom who supports her kids (just like my mommy), she fights for equality, and most importantly, her message is ultimately love. Love for each other in abundance (just like my mommy too).

In one scene, she reads a letter to her husband from a fan – who talks about how she got to a point where she was about to take her own life, but Pink saved her. The end of the letter asks her to please never to listen to the internet trolls, the critics or the voices in her head…. “you’re a marvellous role model to old and young alike. You’re bloody brilliant.”

And then the pop-star looks at her (very good looking) husband and says the words I needed to hear, “It’s really the only reason I still do this, cause chasing the carrot game is stupid, but the fulfilment in knowing that people are dealing with the most and somehow – because of my music – they choose to keep going, they choose to keep trying and that’s why I keep doing this.”

And here’s the perspective part:

That was my aha moment! I definitely haven’t performed for over 70,000 in Wembley, and my music hasn’t saved a life, but now and then, I get really beautiful, heartfelt messages from people who remind me that the good news we share is important and the work that we do matters.

And that’s the truth. I love what I get to do; I love being able to share good things, and I love that people still support Good Things Guy, even after all these years (seven to be exact).

Ja, sometimes words creep in, and those words hurt, but we cannot allow that bubble to become part of our own internal narrative.

So here’s what I think we can all learn from this:

  1. We are all dealing with trauma, but we actually have no clue how giant the monsters are that people are fighting, so maybe start being nicer to each other.
  2. Words are so powerful! They can be used to build each other up or crush us into a million pieces. Choose your words wisely.
  3. We have the power to choose what bubbles we allow to be real. We also have the ability to decide how to deal when confronted with a bubble – do we get sucked in or instead make it an adventure.
  4. Mommys (and all our support systems) are soooo important! Keep those people close. Love them and tell them that often.
  5. Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever ever feel like you’re less than perfect (that’s a song lyric from P!nk).
  6. Oh, and if you needed to hear it again… just be a nice human. Be kinder to everyone around you, including yourself!

Sources: Brent Lindeque 
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About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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