Keep it private, please!

2013-08-11 14:00

In the golden age of overshare, there’s a lot to be said for mystery

Maybe I’m prudish, but there are many aspects of the lives of public figures I’d be quite content not to hear about.

Unfortunately, I live in The Epoch of Overshare, a.k.a. The TMI (too much information) Era. This is the golden age that gave us a TV programme called The Spa of Embarrassing Illnesses and endless photographs of celebrities’ cellulite.

There is no end to the inappropriate intimate information we can access about those in the public eye.

Half the time, there’s not even any journalistic digging required – the subjects are blabbing it all over Twitter and Facebook themselves, or writing tell-all books. And I’m not talking the Kardashians or Khanyi Mbau. I’m talking politicians and heads of state.

Recently, we have been subjected to multiple overshare horrors.

Like Weinergate, the sexting scandal in which would-be New York mayor Anthony Weiner admitted to sending pics of his “wiener” to young women. Overshare meets sexual harassment. There’s a reason they’re called privates, dude.

Guys, I’m just going to say this once. Never send a picture of your privates to any woman. She will not thank you and she may lay charges. If you feel moved to send something to the object of your affections, flowers are always nice.

Speaking of privates, “the queen’s gynaecologist” are words no one wants to hear.

Yes, if you think about it, it is obvious that Her Maj and the family have multiple doctors specialising in the usual range of body parts.

For all I know, there’s a prince’s proctologist and a princess’ podiatrist and a guy who trims the Royal Consort’s nostril hair.

We got along quite happily before without having to think about it. Until the princess was in labour, that is, whereupon the queen’s gynae was the only show in town. In fact, the whole royal labour was an overshare extravaganza. It felt as if the entire world was peering in to check if the head was crowning.

No sooner had we managed to drag our attention away from the princess’ cervix, than we were frogmarched into Cosatu House for more oversharing.

I refer to the following revelation from Zwelinzima Vavi from his statement in response to the rape allegations: “Brief intercourse took place while we were standing.” Yes, I feel much closer to him now.

I’m not even going to comment on the word ‘brief’. You go right ahead and make your own judgement on the wisdom of including the reference to duration. But “standing”? Really, Zweli, TMI.

We do not need that image burnt into our cerebral cortexes. Or to wonder about matters of balance. Why tell us?

There seems no legal benefit to sharing. Standing intercourse is intercourse nevertheless.

When I was about 10, there was a rumour that you couldn’t get pregnant if you had sex standing up. We later learnt this is not, in fact, the case – just as infidelity and rape can also happen in any sexual position.

Vavi could just have gone with “intercourse took place” and left us in contented ignorance as to the details.

Is it not enough I already know way more about President Jacob Zuma than a citizen should ever have to know about her president?

Hundreds of thousands of us have seen Helen Zille’s rat-nibbled toe on Twitter. We now know Julius Malema’s unfinished Sandown home was designed with a room called the pyjama lounge. Now, when we see him on telly in his red beret, we have to picture him in a onesie, eating popcorn off Kenny Kunene and watching DVDs of Downton Abbey.

Where’s the mystery? The gravitas? The dignity of public office? How are we supposed to revere our leaders when they are so quick to show themselves to be all too human?

»?Sidley is the author of The Agony Chef

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