Life after being canceled

"Five minutes of fame they mocked, I am allergic to bananas they criticized, I knew that guy's screws were loose, don't make stupid people famous, such a loser..." Think of any slanderous remark on someone whose fame you are excited is coming to an end, yeah, that is exactly the stick I got!

Let me give you some background. I'm from the small town of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and I was popularly known for selling bananas on Twitter. My digital popularity pervaded to ground level through radio interviews, national news broadcasts, front-page newspaper publications and blogs. I was hot pie my friend, but eventually, I ate a humble pie. This fame lasted a year and a half from the time I got popular off of my first vending tweet of 2019 which got over 20K likes and over half a million views to the time I got de-platformed and shadow-banned on social media due to culminating contentious tweets in June of 2020. 

In this period I made high profile friends and acquaintances, and, to be quite honest, for the comfort zone I broke out of and the fears of losing the people I was confined to prior to breaking it, this achievement was quite worth it! Also, not to mention the fine Miss I was seeing at the time whose moments I shared with and will forever cherish regardless of the fall-out, she held me down during all of the smoke & dust, it was momentous actually! I was the guy the world didn't want to hear a mistake about, when I got arrested on unfair charges in 2020, the whole country went marbles! 

I had the prominent lawyer Doug Coltart reach out for legal aid and the popular writer Yvonne Maphosa offer to pay me out of the terrible cells amongst many others who showed high concerns and others who came to aid like the managers of and the poise well-articulated journalist of ZTN Robert Mukondiwa who held a 20-minute news bulletin and interview on the matter. Truthfully speaking, the fame was bigger than I was at the time I don't think any artist in my town can top that! I sold bananas like hotcakes, I had well-wishers who saw such great potential in me, my tenacity and my general story. Twitter was very cordial to me, my threads were loved, my posts were celebrated, and monies were sent from the diaspora, but it all plummeted like a house built on sand by just one tweet!

One of my high-profile friends whom I'm still well connected with is Crystal Zinzile, a beautiful human being, very carefree, outgoing and graceful! Crystal's relationship with her former boyfriend raised contention on grounds of statutory rape allegations darted by her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend. This had been going on for a while before it re-surfaced on the timeline and we all knew about it as the victim persisted with posts before they gained heavy traction. 

Crystal deactivated her socials for a while being a social media savvy person who's also scandal averse, to which I asked her boyfriend where she'd disappeared immediately after asking the rape allegations resurfaced with much more intensity. Being invested in the friendship we had already established, the issue took me too! I was annoyed and infuriated, so I engaged the timeline in my sheer resourcefulness as an iconic and/or influential person, I spewed tweets on impulse with little knowledge of the depth of rape issues. 

I quote tweeted stuff like "Is this what a raped person looks like" and I cringe at the thought of that menace today still, I went on and on puking and puking! I got phone calls and DMs of warning and disappointment from family, friends and well-wishers. I was dragged left, front, back, right and center, in fact, it all turned into a braided dragging as I brawled out on a friend who had gone sideways on me during that heat. She had been a victim of rape at some point and I had been a friend and shoulder when her wound was fresh, I didn't understand why she'd join the masses instead of reproaching me privately, so I undressed her on the timeline and made matters worse! I got dragged and ratioed even more I remember a piercing quote tweet which went "Oh so you're even a shittier thing" to say 'even' is bad enough but to say 'more' and 'shitter' is supper exponentiated, that's mathematically (shity³) to the power of 3! And it still feels like salt to the wound thinking about it. 

It was such a mess and every time I look back at that event I remember how immature I was and just appreciate my growth, although it came at a cost. I had 11k followers which dropped to 7.5k. I lost customers, friends and well-wishers! I had pending radio interviews that got cancelled, I had collaborations that got thrown under the bus, I was thrown out of WhatsApp groups and left some, and I was such a great marketer but it all turned into a bull! I lost a lot and it's insane how you can go from honey to kak in just a few hours. I felt like kak but thankfully the girl I was seeing at the time was gracious, she was the only person at the time I could half my problem to and whose understanding was correctional, she gave me such great insight on matters of rape that I withhold to this day, although she expressed her concerns of trust, she couldn't trust me with anything because of the way I undressed a friend on Twitter. Yeah, mistrust makes you feel empty! You feel worthless when you're untrustworthy, but it was a significant learning curve. 

On the ground, you will feel when people know about your blunder but they don't want to trigger you, the energy tells that it's being talked about behind your back in the "he fell off" narrative. But I was already a stout person with little to no care what people say, I mean I sold bananas in broad daylight for crying out loud, so I could put the seeming murmurs in my ass and keep it shifting. I continued doing my thing regardless although I no longer got big orders from Twitter customers, I continued selling and solely relied on passerby customers in the city. 

People who'd normally stop by would pass like they never knew me their whole lives, I would just hear my insides scream "yeyii voetsek!". I took a year to cleanse off of social media in 2021 but broke it in June to curate in an attempt to revive myself but my tweets were received in bad taste, the narratives still held negative undertones and insinuations, people, artists and radio personalities still charged at me until I was overthrown. It was never the same, so I continued with my social media fast for the year and re-engaged my socials again fully in 2022 as a private account and just a random user, I audited my followings and unfollowed a chunk of accounts without care for losing numbers as I felt digitally insignificant. 

Chats still continued long after I got de-platformed, in fact being the biggest loser or the biggest cancel culture story in my small town, each time a topic on cancel culture is raised my name and brand resurface condescendingly with quite disparaging remarks. I have stopped engaging or entertaining the dialogues and have disconnected with people who make banter about my name in that regard. There's a thing about social media which entices the people you know to go sideways on you and relegate that behaviour to banter when you then confront them all of a sudden you deserved it. 

That is how my relations with people I met on social media have fallen off and continue to 1 by 1, I no longer confront, I just soft block, write off and keep it shifting. The thing is my social life is already good enough, my world didn't fall apart as a whole. I am highly appreciated in my residential community and cycling community and by my family and the friends I have. But I have to say it's a bit unsettling to see people who betrayed you grow and do better than you, such is the life you live with it. Those are the consequences of being popular and knowing a lot of people, it's not an ordinary life.

It can sometimes be a bit of a chore desensitizing from the hype, yeah sure it was five minutes of fame but its imprints will still protrude in your life here and there. So there are times when I walk into a shop and get spoken to by a random person asking how business is, that time I'm doing other things, so I always have to keep it cool and cordial without cheek. I attended a business seminar last year, I knew only three people in that room about 30. At the end of the seminar, the moderator Kuda Dhliwayo asked everyone to talk to the person sitting next to them, which is termed networking, I was dumbfounded to discover that half the room knew exactly who I was and what I was about, some still followed me on Twitter and I was embarrassed to discover I wasn't following them. 

That's when it really occurred to me that I left a big mark and I am bigger than I think. I have always moved with some element of significance without acknowledging it to be quite honest, even in High-School I was just known for something,  you'd think popularity is a gift. I remember walking into my classroom late and the whole class gave me a standing ovation and whistles for previously reprimanding a bad teacher and writing a comparative letter online to the principal regarding school misconduct, which had the whole school talking. But I still get surprised when I am applauded or recognized, I guess it's stuff you never get used to. You will come to my neighbourhood and describe me and I promise you will get quick directions to my place. Sometimes I don't feel safe, and sometimes I think I will not have a place to hide.

After getting de-platformed, I was sure to embrace an average Joe's life and to live unknown for nothing, unfortunately, my name is too big to hide in a pocket, by my works I am popularly known for providing an essential and alleviating service to my community. After that incident I have pursued a life of quietness and a lowkey profile, to do things without broadcasting, to like banana bread without tweeting it, and to achieve a goal without blowing a whistle. I aspire to do surmountable moves with a lowkey profile, I admire people who have been great achievers but still have to be discovered. I would love to date someone popular and not be known as the boyfriend unless you meet us in some restaurant or flight and bawl your eyes out. I don't want to be posted in a relationship, I want to be behind the bums. One could say it is an insecurity or trauma response caused by adverse encounters but hey let's face it everyone fails at something everyone embarrasses themselves everyone loses and through all of our experiences we develop preferences and ways to do things.

Eita daar, I'm Ricky! A chilled out guy, dog lover, cyclist and a banana bread patient. Like yourself I'm taking life's blows as they come, trying to figure out my placement and purpose in this life, luckily I can write the journey out to share with you how ancient encounters were shared and taught about through dusty scrolls, only difference now is we've got tablets. I hope you'll enjoy my writings and mostly draw inspiration off of.

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