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[EXPLAINER] Helen Zille: How to be a good Twitterzen


A good Twitterzen can be defined as someone who observes the laws of the Twitterverse and follows them as best they can in their own capacity. It is someone who contributes to society, engages in discourse and participates in public affairs with wisdom and knowledge. Good Twitterzenship is tied to civic duty. To be a good Twitterzen, one must act in a way that is responsible and this same action is required of every member of society because civic duties are the basic doctrines of being a Twitterzen. Good Twitterzens fulfil their responsibilities with regard to their country.

In a nutshell, we must all aim to be good Twitterzens, and with just a little bit of thought and effort, we can.

  1. Listen-up: One of the best ways to be a good Twitterzen is to contribute in the form of information. But dispersing good, quality information means that you pay attention to the conversations that are happening around you, you take other people’s opinions into consideration and you educate yourself before you even think of hitting the Tweet button.

  2. Work harder: In the Twitterverse, the job you have matters. So if, for example, you are the former leader of an opposition party and the current premier of the Western Cape, the tweets you provide to others should contribute to a stronger community. Your job matters. And if you should find yourself unsuited for the position, because instead of building a community you seek to break it down, then you should leave the Twitterverse, search Google for a new job and apply for your Twitterzenship at a later stage.

  3. Use the news: A good Twitterzen reads up and stays fully informed on the issues that surround their society. The word “fully” means that you pay as much attention to the hashtags you love (like” #SaveTheRhino) as well as hashtags you maybe don’t like, such as” #RHODESMUSTFALL. The latter hashtag, for example, is significant because it challenges your basic understanding of the world and paying attention to it will give you a better understanding of how you should or should not get involved. It’s also good because if you know anything about #RHODESMUSTFALL, you will know that tweeting in favour of colonialism is basically kak behaviour. Major Twitterzen fail.

  4. Don’t say a word: When you find yourself becoming a little bit bored or irrelevant, when you sit in your Constantia home with nothing but the past failure of the DA to keep you company, when you find that you have a little extra time on your hands, then do the right thing. Give back to the Twitterverse community by sharing. Share in the form of silence. Sometimes all you have to do to be a good Twitterzen is be quiet.

  5. Get Twitter training: Before you can even think of assisting your fellow Twitterzens, before you can even think of contributing to the Twitterverse and becoming an integral and appreciated part of society, you must get training. If you don’t, blood will spill and you will have a PR nightmare on your hands. No one wants an apology in 140 characters when shots have already been fired. If you do not get training, steps 1 to 4 are irrelevant. You will forever wander in the underworld of the microblog as a bad Twitterzen and no one will want to engage with you online, like, for example, watch the video you did with Suzelle DIY on how to save water.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee is a commentator on gender equality, sexuality, culture, race relations and feminism as well as ethics in the South African media environment.

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