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Everybody loves Nonhle

Vintage Nonhle for the connoisseurs on Twitpic

Dear Nonhle

I started writing this letter to you when I was in Germany last week, before I saw this Dear Nonhle letter and by then it was too late. So maybe we’ll just have to start a Dear Nonhle meme. Lots of people can compose Dear Nonhle missives and it can become a rite of passage, like going to Umhlanga to get rat-faced after matric exams or filing a tax return.

Anyway, Nonhle (can I call you Nonhle?), I just want to say thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’re the gift that keeps on giving, all this selfless entertainment of your nearly 90 000 followers. Tweets like “you as a poor SA citizen adds NO value to following pleases [sic] unfollow and go back to your shack” are just gold.

I very nearly used you as an example in my talk on the future of tech and media in development here in Germany, but ended up going with a picture of Khanyi Mbau and Kenny Kunene instead (I wanted to illustrate the complexity and contrast of Africa. It went down well; the audience laughed). But if I had to do it all over again, I’d probably include you.

I do have a Nonhle slide in my presentation on The Digital Self, which is about the impact that social media has on identity and relationships. One of the people I quote in that presentation is Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT. “On Twitter or Facebook you’re trying to express something real about who you are. But because you’re also creating something for others’ consumption, you find yourself imagining and playing to your audience more and more. So those moments where you are supposed to be showing your true self become a performance. Your psychology becomes a performance.”

To an extent, that has always been true of celebrities like you. But social media has changed this, so that ordinary people get to experience it too. Because we all have an imagined audience, identity is now both performed and also narrated. We’re all our own publicists now.

Maybe that bothers you: the notion that ordinary people also get to perform on an imaginary stage — not just celebrities like you. Your relationship with your fans is clearly deeply troubled. You’re either telling your fans they’re your “angelz” and you love them, or you’re spewing invective. You need them, but evidently you also resent them because of this. The more you tweet about not needing your “fanz” [sic] the more obvious it is that you do.

Listen FUCK all my FANZ or FAKE ass bitches..go fuck a broke ass celeb… I do not NEED your stupid tweet

I tell my fanz to Bath and F OFF… they still tweet me…NONHLE WE LOVE YOU…… ok….. fuck off

Your insecurities are showing, Anybody who needs to talk as much as you do about how much money you have clearly isn’t comfortable with where she is in life. You’re not reminding your followers about your money — you’re reminding yourself:

lets say it again 2 million rand house in Dainfern… ha ha some live in Hillbrow

And the media:

you get paid 2 grand to write for a news paper… ha ha ha ha ill buy you dinner sweety…

Maybe you are being cynical. Maybe this is all a ploy to attract enough attention to turn your brand into something worth actual money again. I’m a strategist in the ad industry and I do have to say that I would advise most clients to stay well away from you — you’re not brand ambassador material, unless we’re talking a brand that does everything with a nudge and a wink, like Nando’s, and I can’t imagine they’d actually pay you.

I suspect that one of your fans hit the nail on the head, if unintentionally, when telling you that your haters don’t actually hate you, “they hate themselves Because your a reflection of what they wish to be”. I suspect you hate your fans because they’re a reflection of what you most fear and dislike about yourself.

Pop psychology aside, I’d love to know what a mental health professional would make of your tweets. Narcissism would presumably feature somewhere in the diagnosis. A borderline personality disorder, perhaps. Those mood swings your tweets hint at would seem to suggest that medication might be an idea. (Unless the problem is the medication you’re taking for your tooth op — “meds r kickin in” you tweeted on Sunday afternoon.)

“Lol girl why do you act lyk a monster whereas u nt even close to being dat” asked one of your followers, to which you responded: “peeps take advantage of me im tired”. I’d say that if that’s the case, you should take a little break. Perhaps even a permanent one.

In the meantime, thank you again for being generous enough to provide incredulous observers like me with material for case studies. I’m not one of your fanz, but don’t know what I’d do without you.

Yours sincerely,

Broke ass bitch

PS My car is nicer than your car

*There’s one final possibility, that this Twitter profile (spelled with a capital i in place of an l) is the real one — as it claims — and the other has parasitised the real Nonhle’s identity so that she’s more real than the real Nonhle. This is a scenario too reminiscent of a Charlie Kaufman movie, so I’ll leave it there. I’m more comfortable with a world in which Nonhle tweets, as she just has: im tired of stupid peeps asking.what does your mom say about your tweets…..STOP it she does NOT GIVE a rats ass what i say…Im BOSS OKAY.