K Naomi sorry for her 'I hate bipolar people' tweet
Public figures have the responsibility to filter the messages they send out to their audience as this could have a favourable or detrimental effect on them.
This is according to Suntosh Pillay, a Durban-based clinical psychologist, who was speaking following the backlash after a tweet that media personality K Naomi made about bipolar.
The 28-year-old influencer with almost 180000 followers tweeted: “I hate bipolar people" on Wednesday.
“You can’t always switch up, choose your vibes and be about them,” she tweeted.
The brand influencer, however, later deleted the tweet. She then and apologised for her offensive tweet. (sic)
Pillay said although it would be unethical to comment on someone that he had not personally assessed, however as a public figure one needed to take heed on information and messages that they shared as it had power to affect followers.
“People in the public eye need to be more sensitive about what they say. Because of their large following, they have the responsibility and power to educate, inform or further stigmatise certain issues.
“As much as an apology goes a long way, so does the damage of the message that was sent out,” said Pillay.
Another psychologist, Kelly Owen, said the public was misinformed and people often saw depression as a weakness.
“What I can say is that mental illness needs to be taken very seriously and the discrimination and stigma associated to these diseases should stop through public awareness campaigns.
"Perhaps this tweet is an opportunity for a public figure to make good by promoting a positive attitude and tolerance towards mental health,” she said.
K Naomi, who in 2018 confessed to be living with depression, was quick to issue an apology after she was criticised on Twitter for her utterance.
“I realise that I have offended a lot of people, and I am really sorry. I can’t even use the fact that I was angry as an excuse to have sounded so ignorant about mental illness. I used the wrong word, in the worst way, making light of something very serious. I’m very sorry.” (sic)
She added her intention wasn’t to offend anyone and she should have used different wording.
A social media expert Sarah Hoffman said, in general, everyone should keep in mind their context and tone and how it would come across to a wider audience and not just to people in their immediate community.
“I think she didn’t realise how many people she offended. Maybe she also didn’t mean it in the literal medical sense.
“We should be mindful of how something comes across because once content is out, it is very difficult to take back,” said Hoffman.