The point of @ (distort[ed]) ‘Message’

distortion:/pull or twist out of shape/

message:/a spoken or written communication/

A former colleague of mine once told me how he became alarmed after sending an email to one of his superiors when he realised that his language consisted of grammatical errors as well a sms writing style. By then the message had been received and a reply had landed in his inbox. When he opened the email from the boss he was being asked for clarity on what he was trying to say and being called to order in terms of his professional communication. What could have been a simple reply on his part on the status of what he was working on at that time took a spiral the details of which I would not get into here lest I also lose vital kudos in my friend. What he and I were reminded of in this self-induced twisty episode of his career is that one needs to double check what one is saying before hyperly clicking on the send button. You need to review what you are saying to the other person before you respond or even initiate conversation.

Copy of 2dVirtual communication or social networking interaction which I believe began with the sms creates a parallax when those who read what you are saying cannot follow you or misread what you are trying to say. In other words what could have can be a simple message creates more questions than it instructs or clarifies. The youngsters take very warmly and easily to this sort of communication. If you ask any young bloke out there they will tell you that since being a student comes with its own financial constrains it is easier to constrict words to an almost encrypted code so that instead of sending two to three sms’s you need to just send one, it is economical viable. Some purists have argued that the long-term effect of this improvisation is that one loses their writing skills as well as grammatical sensibilities.

I think that the major limit of this distorted form of writing, sms that is, is that it can have an appeal that may only be limited to your peers only however in a professional environment it just wouldn’t hold a bucket full of water. It may cost you your pay packet at the end of the day depending on the gravity of your err and the consequences thereof. We live in a time where one, more than ever, has to be aware of who they are talking to and also take seriously the context within which the communication takes place.

It is as if as much as we are now forcefully required to assume varied roles, through virtual interaction via electronic media we need to also double-check our position as we communicate. An interesting case in point of how much our present communication tools can cost you can be observed in the duel of racism that took place on the twitter platform towards the middle of this month wherein a model Jessica Leandra Dos Santos used the derogatory K word to refer to a Spar employee to tell her followers how angry she was at the employee who was disrespectful to her. Interestingly she subsequently gained more followers following her remark, I am saying interestingly because we will never know whether some of her followers were motivated that they feel that black people should still be called Kaffirs, let us write the derogatory name in its full form, self-censoring will not do at a time like this one. Or perhaps her new followers wanted to learn more about her before they roasted her with their own fair share of name calling. But this is not troublesome since she is a person of remarkable note following her modeling career and her stint with FHM.

Then we have learned that Tshidi Thamane another model, who by the turn of this backward tale turned out not to be a model in demand anyway, replied by saying, using the name of Peter Mokaba to open her syntactic construction, she meditated that she sic wished all whites had been killed when the late youth activist sang ‘kill the boer’, signing off by saying sic ‘then we wouldn’t have to experience @Jessicaleandra’s racism.’

This tale saw the DA call the two models into order and instructing them to apologise to the nation. This could be seen, by those lusting for a racist outbreak, as both a photo opportunity for the DA through their spokesperson as well as a political affirmation of what they stand for in terms of darkies and witties getting along in this Rainbow paradise gone wrong of ours. Well let us be honest, in the final analysis of the matter it was a photo opportunity, the question is whether what the two models has promised to do, at the press conference where they were reprimanded, would materialise. Problematically the spar man who has supposedly stirred Jessica into her careless behavior was never part of the conference. In other words though he sparked a flame into life he remains a nonentity in the plot, a sort of a flat character. If he was invited to be part of the press we would have been able to understand what ticked off dear Jessica. And then we would be afforded the opportunity to get an understanding of the root of the problem, how it all began. It now remains unresolved.

What we can deduce from all this is that we are still as racists as yesterday, if we are fettering our racist’s attitudes to our children one can only imagine just how long and very long this country still has to go before you can truly speak about a South African without being concerned about their race. This assertion read against our neo class struggle, economic isolation of some of our people and our timid behavior in dealing with matters constructively and fully like when we see someone doing something wrong, makes it crystal clear that we have a long way to go. The social media as a platform for communication has amplified our complicated paradigm. In any social system where opposition paradigm exists and discourses and ideals are pitted against each other the question is that of the position you take and how you respond to matters paying close attention to retaining the bigger picture in mind.


20 May

© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2012


2 thoughts on “The point of @ (distort[ed]) ‘Message’

  1. Mnumzane, ubale kwa cwala umlomo, indlebe, nenqondo!… before I lose you in my own language…, I would like to express my appreciation around the considerate, sensitive and thought provoking manner in which you write. The issues that are coming to light about this misguided rainbow nation of mine make me think of the false impression many hold that we co- exist in ‘good faith’ across socio – economic and racial lines.

    Then again it is expected of those on the periphery(ideological, economic, cultural) to be thankful for the little ‘good mercies’ they have been granted in the elusive conquest we have as a nation for unity and a collective South African identity which some believe can be brought about in the absence of acknowledging the disparities economically, socially, culturally and intellectually emanating from our past, which play out in our present and project us into a future of which the only sure thing is doubt!


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