As I was making my evening Twitter rounds, I noticed a circulation of tweets that were hash-tagged #ThefaceofAutism and I initially thought perhaps there was a conference being planned or something. I then decided to kill my curiosity by clicking on the link in one of the tweets. What I saw shocked me but didn’t shock me at the same time. The link I opened contained a letter Holly Robinson Peete of the HollyRod Foundation wrote to well known rapper 50 Cent. The rapper let his emotions get the better part of him by insulting an angry fan.
He referred to the fan as being ‘autistic’. He further went on to say that he didn’t want any ‘Special Eds’ on his timeline.
What struck me most about the letter is that although Mrs. Peete was deeply hurt by 50 Cent insensitive comment, she managed to remain articulate and calm. For those of you who don’t know, Mrs. Peete is mother to an autistic child – hence the foundation her and her husband started. Mrs. Peete is one in several million parents who have autistic children and have to deal with the emotional trauma that is associated to raising such a child.
When rapper 50 Cent made his insensitive comment, he wasn’t thinking about the millions of children who suffer from autism, neither was he thinking about the parents who are affected emotionally and financially. You see he was hurt by a mere obscure comment and decided the best way to respond was to bring himself to the level of the angry fan. He isn’t the only one who’s been a victim of speaking first, thinking later. There are too many celebrities who engage in this type of behavior on a regular basis. What I fail to understand is, how a celebrity who depended on his fans to promote his craft to achieve the level of stardom s/he has achieved is easily angered by the same fans who pushed their career.
In the case of Twitter, there is the option to “block” or “unfollow” individuals who constitute a nuisance. In addition, I also feel that as a celeb you ought to be too busy to read such foolish comments made by simply minded individuals.
This is not limited to celebrities alone, a lot of regular Tweeters also engage in such rude, arrogant and insensitive behavior. There is a lady on my timeline who not too long ago was tweeting about the rate of single black mothers and how they all needed to get their act together and what a disgrace it is and so forth. While I agree that the black community has a lot of issues that we need to address, delivery plays a huge role in communication. This individual has never experience motherhood before – so my question is who are you to judge anyone? Would you rather these women commit abortions?
A lot of single mothers are not hoodrats who jump from one bed to the other. No one born under the sun is above mistakes. I myself have a child out of wedlock. Do I belong in the same category as these ‘chicken heads’? I have a friend who got pregnant on the ‘supposedly 99.9% pregnancy proof birth control pill’. This is a very close friend and she did not want any more children so you can imagine the shock she received when the doctor told her she was pregnant. Although my friend is married, it didn’t really make a difference. When you’re not prepared for a child, you’re simply not prepared!
How many millions of women became mothers when they didn’t plan for it to happen? When an unexpected pregnancy occurs, you have the choice between bringing forth life or committing murder. If a woman who had a child out of wedlock and later remarried was giving the advice, It would be more appropriate. Especially if she can use her story as a reference point. For someone who has never been in that situation to carry on as though they were an expert comes across as ‘rude’ and ‘insensitive’.
I do not have a problem with advocating for a cause, however we must be careful to not insult, offend or become condescending in our delivery. Sometimes the most honest and well meaning advice can become the exact opposite.
I brought this story up because I wanted to highlight how the things we tweet about are perceived. Our tweets are a representation of ourselves. There are as good as the things we say with our mouths. The fact that we don’t see the people we tweet to or tweet about, does not mean we can go around tweeting insulting comments or observations. Too many people have ended up in positions where the things they’ve tweeted about have been used against them negatively. These things linger on for a very long time. People are not so quick to forget the little details.
So the next time you feel like tweeting about black women needing to marry as though they wish to remain single in a condescending manner, rethink it! Until your marriage is in the league of 10-15 years you’re still a newbie and ought not to be giving advice to others. Physician heal thyself first. The next time you feel like tweeting an angry comment in response to a ‘stupid tweet’, rethink it! The next time you feel like I can say whatever because 100 mofos can’t touch me, rethink it.
As the saying by one of the popular hip hope bloggers goes (crunktastical.net), “Tweets is watching!” Social Media Etiquette – your tweets are being monitored even if you don’t know it. Be very careful as you never know if those mere alphabets you typed will be used against you someday.
P.S. I am not exempting myself from all of this. I too am learning.
Photo credit: AskMen.com, Google.com
Update, update, update: On July 8, around 3pm rapper 50 Cent finally issued an apology after almost a million tweets were sent to him regarding his comment. It’s been five days of non-stop tweeting from parents with autistic children sharing pictures of their children to show the rapper what Autism looks like.
50 Cent tweeted:
“I realize my autism comments were insensitive, however it was not my intention to offend anyone and for this I apologize.” What took you so long 50 Cent? You could have issued this apology immediately Mrs. Peete called your attention to it.
This goes back to my above comment about being careful. There are thousands of parents out there who will never look at him the same again. If we can all just be a little more thoughtful about the things we say, we won’t need to apologize every second.