I read an article the other day by an author, 23Thorns, which I had really enjoyed. So much so in fact that I clicked on his News24 profile and clicked again so it took me to his Facebook page with the intentions of sending him a message to compliment him on his articles and insights.
As a side – I usually do this with trolls and people who make really stupid comments because it gives me a laugh to see the face behind the comment, although usually the account is set up anonymously. Every now and then though their actual profile is linked and I get a chuckle out of seeing who they actually are behind their News24 pseudonym. It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure, but an innocent one really. I have a look, I have a laugh and I move on. If there’s something interesting to use in a comeback comment to disprove his initial chirp, I might point it out. But ag, we’re on here for a bit of banter right? No harm, no foul. That’s why I use my actual Facebook account as a link. I intend to be accountable for what I write.
Anyway, back to the message I intended sending. 23Thorns account is linked to an ‘actual’ Facebook account. I wrote the message and as I was about to click send I noticed a little message saying something along the lines of “Please note that because you aren’t friends with this person on Facebook, your message will be send to their “Other” folder and not their main messages folder". I clicked send anyway, not knowing if he ever checks his “Other” folder (I don’t usually) and wondering if he’d ever get it. I then started wondering what was in my “Other” folder…. So I clicked on it.
There it was – amongst a lot of spam from people saying they had stumbled upon my account and I could really do with having them in my life as an investment partner or a lover or whatever – a message from someone called Samora Machel Thamsanqa. I clicked on the profile picture and was taken to one of the troll accounts used to comment on News24. Interesting. I clicked back to my “Other” folder and opened the message. Interesting indeed.
A couple of weeks ago I had obviously commented on his comment stating that he was being contradictory in his accusation of racism against certain people when his Facebook was littered with racist vitriol and completely negated the point he was pretending to make on News24. I closed the article after reading a few more comments, rather proud of my detective work, and never gave it another thought.
I won’t include the transcript of the message thread (as there were a lot of allegations and chirps thrown against me, which do not add to the point I’m trying to make in this article but were interesting to read nonetheless). It was scary though to see the messages and the familiarity he seemed to have with me, and supposedly the attitudes of the people I work with at my firm towards my race and how I should be ready for that to be acted upon, and what he assumed my life was like based on the little he could see on my profile (privacy settings are tight, but you can get a jist I suppose) etc. It was a little wakeup call. He subsequently blocked me because I kept saying ‘please stop making your issues mine’, but sent a last message getting his final dig in. I’m not worried though as he seemed to essentially have the right intentions, although he clearly is very very set in his ways and didn't see at all his own contradictions. He may as well have said "I hate people who drink alcohol, now pass me that litre of vodka to down".
I suppose in some way, the trolls or fake account owners have that right. They needn’t worry about the message in their “Other” folder as they remain anonymous to the senders. I think there’s a balance though. If you’re one of those troll accounts that spews racism, anti-DA/ANC persistently, atheist/religious nonsense (the bane of News24 in my opinion) etc then in my opinion, you’re cowardly, petty and I tend to not take anything you say seriously. If however, you’re using an anonymous account to comment constructively whilst avoiding situations like I had, then I suppose you might have the right idea. It wasn’t pleasant getting messages like those sent to my personal account, although I did feel like I had struck a chord which I suppose we’d all like our (legitimate) comments to do, so that was a small positive.
As it stands though, I guess I’ll rely more on the anonymous guys to comment on the more controversial topics from now on. Be careful with your Facebook privacy, and be careful what you say on here! Trolls, you’re pathetic. Anonymous legitimate commenters, well I’ll take a sleeve out your books now I guess. Samora Machel Thamsanqa, take it easy bro. Life’s too short to be that angry.
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