The news of anyone’s passing is a devastating and huge blow to anyone who is close to the said deceased so you can imagine how terrible the story can be when a family member hears from strangers online that their family member is no more.
Just this week we, at ZAlebs, had an influx of messages from concerned fans enquiring about whether Generations & Lockdown actress - Manaka Ranaka had indeed passed away from a horrific car accident.
Now considering that no press release from Generations, Lockdown or even the Ranaka family had been issued, we were quite tentative of also speaking about the matter over the weekend until the Ranaka family said something.
Thankfully, Manaka took the death rumour to her stride and turned an awful rumour into a joke that everyone laughed at, a sigh of relief from everyone else who thought that she had indeed passed on.
So here’s the thing about death that is always a Catch 22 experience for the media:
1; Death is always breaking news and sends the newsroom spiralling out of control as online media outlets grapple at being “the first ones” to break the story because like it or not, death is, unfortunately, a guaranteed traffic booster for any news website outlet, especially if the deceased is a public figure.
2; The bitter part of this is sourcing out more information about the said deceased, meaning having to call up colleagues, friends & even sometimes family members for information about what caused the death.
So basically the news of someone’s death is an extremely uncomfortable and awkward subject to deal with, so when death hoax goes viral online, it is really an insensitive thing to do as it not only affects the person’s supporters but especially the family.
I distinctly remember how livid Trevor Gumbi was last year after a death hoax about him spread like wildfire on social media, sadly the news of his rumoured death reached his mother who was consistently being called by people wanting her to confirm on whether her son was indeed dead.
What was even more devastating about this death hoax is that Trevor’s mother is blind and had to sadly go through such terrible emotions over a silly death hoax.
The same applies to Black Coffee’s death hoax a few years ago where he had to confirm that he is alive and well after some satire website reported that he was found dead in a hotel in Spain.
What is also very damning about these false death reports is that the likes of Manaka, Trevor and Black Coffee have kids who are old enough to use social media, so you can only imagine how traumatizing it is for their kids to be scrolling on Twitter or Instagram to suddenly see someone tweet “Rest In Peace…. you’ll be sorely missed..”
It really does leave a bad taste in one’s mouth.
Keep your R.I.P messages off social media
These death posts not only apply to our celebs but also to people who are not in the public eye, imagine having someone post an R.I.P message on social media with a picture of yourself only to have a relative see that image and unbeknownst to the knowledge of your death?
So before rushing to “be the first” to announce someone’s death on social media, take a moment to calm yourself down, and maybe even put away your phone until a reliable source or even a family member/spokesperson confirms the news.
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Main image credit: Instagram/@ManakaRanaka