Painful consequences for the seven deadly sins on social media

Social media will be the end of us. If it’s not sending us down rabbit holes into the sewers of conspiracy theories and hate, it’s destroying us for showing the world who we really are – and we’re doing it all by ourselves.

The Penny Sparrows, Velaphi Khumalos and, yes, even the Adam Katzavelos, should have taught us all we needed to know about curbing that urge to upload our innermost fantasies to cyberspace. We can’t just help it, it seems.

Ask Hamilton Ndlovu. The young businessman’s elephantine appetite for flash cars, wasn’t enough, he had to share it to social media. If that wasn’t bad enough, he had to do it during lockdown when (a) people were either losing their jobs or getting their salaries cut and (b) were stuck at home with nothing better to do.

He bought three Porsches, a Jeep and a Lamborghini in May last year, posted pix and boasted about winning a lucrative tender. This week, the Pretoria High Court ordered that his bank accounts be frozen and some of his cars be seized, while SARS does a deep dive on his bank accounts. 

Many of us might have a little bit of schadenfreude at this. We shouldn’t be, not while we share all our inner secrets ‘friends’ on Facebook who we wouldn’t even invite over the front door of our real homes.

Julius Malema might yet regret his nearest and dearest posting pix this week too. The EFF’s Commander-in-Chief turned 40 and commemorated it with his favourite members by swapping their red overall and apron cosplay for the finest threads to enjoy the finest wining and dining – as their ostensible constituents tried to social distance in their shacks and cook up dinner bought on their social welfare grants.

Whether it’s politicians posting pix of themselves breaking lockdown or not wearing masks because it doesn’t suit them, tenderpreneurs flaunting their ill-gotten gains – or common or garden racists spewing their bile, there seems to be some sort of cognitive dissonance, as if social media is a safe space with no recriminations nor consequences. 

The haters certainly think so. Former colleague Karima Brown lost her battle with COVID 19 this week. Some of the comments on her death have been absolutely despicable and wholly unjustifiable under any circumstance in any society. They were made by people who think they can get away with it. 

They have until now. But one day, like Sparrow, like Katzavelos and now Ndlovu, they won’t. None of them. SARS, having found its teeth after sustained attempts to emasculate it during state capture, is just one aspect. Lawsuits for defamation are another. Cancelling or shunning; social and corporate, is another. The tide will turn.

It can’t happen soon enough. It’s high time the keyboard heroes, the narcissists, the snowflakes and the criminally stupid finally realised that there are painful consequences for the seven deadly sins on social media – and not just in the hereafter. In the meantime, those who posted their vile and cruel musings about Brown can delete those for a start. 

Let her rest in peace. 

Originally published by the Saturday Star on 6 March 2021.