I was incensed, primarily because of this but also because I live in a DA stronghold and it's just wasting money that could be used for a more important fight (after all the DA has been trumpeting service delivery, and that requires money), so I tweeted about it with a direct mention of @helenzille.
Just had the DA phone me at home to remind me to go and vote. What the hell, @helenzille? Stop wasting money and invading my privacy.
Her @mention stream was crazy yesterday, as you can imagine, but she somehow saw mine and immediately replied. I appreciate that, though I still don't agree with the practice. (Premier Zille, if you should ever read this, I told the caller to remove my name from your contact list. I hope that request will be honoured.)
@mandyjwatson we are getting out the vote. That is what we do on election day. Helen
@helenzille Some of us don't like being badgered. Pamphlets in the letter box will be fine next time, thanks. (And I already voted.)
Last year I mentioned [scroll down to "What Was Good"] the respect that I have for Helen Zille and her use and understanding of social media [I'm inserting an asterisk here for the tweet I point to in the final paragraph of this post], so it was good to see that my previous experience was not an isolated case.
My tweet resulted in unintended consequences that were quite educational. I got a few irked responses from DA supporters, some of whom don't seem to understand that we live in a democracy (for the moment), I have privacy rights, and I have a right to criticise politicians and political practices. One, my new friend @michaelvarikas, was especially vocal and inflammatory, ironically doing the DA a huge disservice in the process. (IMHO. His passion is misplaced. If I voted DA, he's just pushing me away. If I didn't vote DA, he's not going to convince me to switch sides by calling me an idiot and telling me that I "use this country for my benefit" (whatever that means - verbatim he said "U use this country for ur benefit.." so I may have misunderstood as I speak English).) The lesson here is that it takes all types. I think.
More interesting to me as a tech journalist is that these responses (and there were also retweets) are all @mentions that contribute to your Klout score... so I guess the social-media lesson is to bait a well-regarded politician on Twitter.
Here's most of what happened after my conversation with @helenzille (I left out a few isolated/one-off tweets from others at the end):
@mandyjwatson Shame poor you!! Why don't you shut up and stop complaining!! Be grateful!!
@michaelvarikas Be grateful for what? My rights being eroded? Wake up.
@Khile01 Wasting money is not doing something. And it's not necessary in my area, which will win the DA.
Pro tip: How to increase your Klout score: say something mildly inflammatory to a politician and wait for the rabid masses to shout at you.
(PS props to @helenzille who replied to me out of the massive noise in her stream. Though I still disapprove of being called at home.)
@mandyjwatson I am very awake that's why I am telling you shut up!! Ur rights are eroded when u getting raped not when the DA calls u idiot!
@michaelvarikas Well, I'm sure the DA loves having such a vocal special representative such as you on its team.
@mandyjwatson You should feel special that u even get a phn call! U use this country for ur benefit.. Go complain somewhere else seriously!!
@michaelvarikas Please keep going because you, your ignorance, and your illiteracy are making me laugh so hard I might have to publish this.
@mandyjwatson ooohhh I'm so worried you a makeout mag publisher!! People are laughing at you right now for that stupid statement!
@mandyjwatson no that was not for the DA that was from me to you!! I call out stupidity when I see it!!
@mandyjwatson At least DA is not threatening the townships to take away there electricity if they don't vote ANC!!!
In case you're wondering:
Was I baiting @helenzille? No.
Was I baiting @michaelvarikas? Initially no but then he kept going....
I end with the following: in 2009, right after the general election, I arrived at the airport from Johannesburg at the same time as Helen Zille, who was on the verge of becoming premier of the Western Cape. I wrote about the experience in this blog post. And yes, two years later the DA has done a better job in the Western Cape than we've seen in years, but it can and should do better (...says idealistic me...), hence I think it is now appropriate to "quibble about issues", as I put it in my blog post. Right to privacy is one of the most important ones on my list and the DA's cold calling and the SMSs are an invasion of it, and its cavalier attitude about the numerous complaints is upsetting. Most people don't realise how fundamental privacy is to everything else. In our Big Brother society it is one of the hardest rights to retain and one of the first that is eroded. It is being chipped away at every opportunity, from many directions, some unscrupulous, others seemingly innocuous. When we lose it, we are all screwed. You can't get it back once it's gone.
Tail end of another long Twitter conversation generated due to this blog post:
@mandyjwatson you know what I am sorry if I offended you..
@michaelvarikas And I apologise for baiting you. Friends?
@mandyjwatson hahahaha friends for sure.. Have a great day.. ;-)
Truth and reconciliation in action.