By: Claudia Harrison
Last week, Sibu Mpanza and Renaldo Gouws, two South African vloggers, engaged in a heated Twitter battle over comments made by Gouws in his video titled Being a South African YouTuber. In this video, he speaks (or to be honest, rants) about South African YouTubers who have less views and subscribers than him, yet they are more successful. Gouws measures success in terms of being approached by brands and other opportunities, which he himself has never experienced. He may have attempted to gain sympathy from viewers, but he just came across as jealous.
Although he tried to present his views in a generalised way by not mentioning specific names of South African YouTubers, Gouws did not succeed. The way he described the YouTubers to which he was referring, was done in enough detail for anyone familiar with the community to know which people he had in mind when making these statements. It was similar to the practice of subtweeting, except that it took place on YouTube rather than Twitter.
However, it did not take long for the conversation to move to Twitter. One of the YouTubers who fit the criteria presented by Gouws in his video, is UCT’s own Sibu Mpanza, who identified himself in a tweet saying, “He basically named me,” and providing a link to Gouws’ video. Mpanza’s numerous Twitter followers – and the brands which he associates with -joined him in fighting back against the subtweeting which Gouws had done in his video. However, some brands associated with him (such as Jameson and Takealot) made public statements which distanced themselves from him.
Gouws should have apologized at this point, but instead his own pride got in the way and he made a nine minute follow-up video, where he starts out by pretending to not know who Mpanza is, trying to argue that the race dynamics between them are non-existent and calling him a fake. Gouws displayed his ignorance in shining lights and even went so far as to mispronounce Mpanza’s name several times in the video.
This incident proves once more that with social media’s ability to allow for multiple voices to be heard, the uninformed ones, like Gouws, are unfortunately also included. It is important for social media education to take place alongside academic education, as the former is not taught in class, but rather through experience. However, if someone is both stubborn and ignorant, then it is important to set them straight.