Monday January 21, 2013
The good and bad of Twitter
ONE MAN'S MEAT By PHILIP GOLINGAI
Twitterjaya has many faces. Some say there is nothing positive of the fame achieved through it while others are overwhelmed by their instant recognition.
I’M quite shy,” Shasha Mendoza, the 19-year-old student whose unabashed anti-KL112 rally tweets made her an instant Twitter sensation, said.
“But you are not quite shy on Twitter,” I told the teenager who managed to excite Twitterjaya (the moniker of the Malaysian Twittersphere) on Jan 12.
“It’s my first time meeting you. I’m not that shy actually. I’m kind of overdressed,” said the business administration university student. She was wearing a rather tight and short dress in Starbucks Cafe at The Curve, Petaling Jaya.
“Now that you have your 15 minutes of fame, has your life changed?” I asked the Twitter sensation who has her very own hashtag #ShashaMendoza.
“The thing about being famous is whenever I go out, people will look at me and talk bad about me,” she lamented.
“(For example) I went out with my friends to The Curve and I heard two girls kutuk (criticise) me.
“They said, ‘Shasha Mendoza kuat berlagak (loves to show off/talk big). She’s an attention seeker.’
“I buat bodoh saja. Tak payah layan. (I played dumb. There is no point in entertaining them)”.
“It seems many were angry with your pendatang (immigrant) tweets,” I told her.
“I was misunderstood. It was not meant to sound that way,” she said.
“People say I am a bimbo and stupid. (But) I am a 19-year-old girl and I tweet about politics”.
Now Shasha thinks before she tweets.
“If I tweet wrongly, they (she says 70% of her new followers are haters) will use it against me,” she said.
Shasha also added that she had stopped tweeting about her family due to privacy concerns.
“There is nothing positive about my (instant) fame,” says the pro-government Twitter user.
“Fame is really bad, I don’t have privacy,” she said.
Her new followers dished dirt on her.
They unearthed an alleged semi-naked photograph of her posted on Twitter last year.
“That photograph brings up my fake past. That girl is not me.
“Bloggers wrote that the photograph was posted by my ex-boyfriend. Not true.
“The one who posted it was my ex-BFF (best friends forever),” she said.
Shasha has also been a victim of threatening tweets.
For example, one read “I will look for you at college and at home”.
She decided to privatise her Twitter account on Friday.
As a result, one can only follow her tweets should she approve your request to follow her.
Less than 24 hours after Shasha went viral on Twitterjaya, the chatter on social media switched to a 24-minute Listen! (x 11 times) video clip.
“I felt good (when it happened) as now the attention is on them,” she said.
She also added that “the attention went down by 20% but #ShashaMendoza was still trending”.
I questioned if Shasha had seen the video.
“I’ve not seen it yet,” she said.
In the Listen! video, Sharifah Zohra Jabeen Syed Shah Miskin berated 27-year-old Universiti Utara Malaysia law student K.S. Bawani.
One of Sharifah’s infamous quotes is “Even sharks have problems. People complain, complain, complain, complain, complain, complain”.
I managed to interview Bawani over the phone and asked how she felt when Sharifah was telling her off.
“I felt pissed off as she stopped me in the middle of my sentence and she responded by talking without facts,” Bawani said.
I then asked if Bawani knows Shasha Mendoza.
“Who is she? Explain who she is,” she said.
I explained and Bawani said “Oh, I heard about her. I think her name was mentioned in the comments in my Facebook. But I don’t remember.”
On Friday, at a packed press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Bawani revealed she was overwhelmed with instant fame after the video became viral.
“I could not handle my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I could not sleep or eat. My phone rang non-stop,” she said.
“Now, people call me ‘Listen Bawani’.”
Unlike Shasha, Bawani views her instant fame as a positive experience.
“I’m happy as the video is an eye-opener on how students are treated. People have been calling me and they give me the spirit to fight for students,” said the Gerakan Menuntut Pendidikan Percuma advocate.
“Do you plan to contest in the general election?” I asked the Parti Sosialis Malaysia supporter.
“This is not about Bawani. I don’t plan to be a politician. I am studying law. My plan is to be a lawyer,” said the student who has a psychology degree.
Several companies have spoofed Sharifah’s now infamous quote, as seen in advertisements.
For example, Nando’s came out with their very own version: “Listen. Listen. Listen. Listen. Our chicks are A-okay.”
At the press conference, Bawani was asked about the said advertisements.
The socialist responded with “(They) have a capitalist agenda”.
Will those who achieve instant fame (or instant shame) be in the news in one month’s time?
Anybody remembers Ceylyn Tay?
> Philip Golingai can be reached at email@example.com.