Get the balance right

Actually, there’s more to this post than just quoting Depeche Mode songs, but…

Don’t take this way, don’t take that way
Straight down the middle until next Thursday
Push to the left, back to the right
Twist and turn til you’ve got it right.

Being the editor of a hugely popular international website brand isn’t all fun and games, you know. Aside from the hard work, trolls and begging letters (yes, I’m still writing them), there’s the constant heavy weight of responsibility resting upon my shoulders.
See, what I’ve found is that there are an awful lot of gullible people out there. I haven’t calculated exact numbers, but I’m guessing that we’re probably looking at about 95% of people who have access to the internet. All of which means that you can basically write what you want and people will actually believe it.

Incoming from Katie at brand42 last night, an email inviting me to “preview” (subtext: “please blog about”) their “exciting new site”,, which launches next Monday and  invites people to send in their images, videos and thoughts on SA – and which CHOWS bandwidth, so is completely rubbish for er… South African users. The small print indicates that this is a SA Tourism initiative. How patriotic of them to use a UK-based web design company. Hmm.

But I don’t mind SA Tourism promoting SA. In fact, I’d be rather annoyed and somewhat bewildered if they didn’t. After all, it is their job.
What I don’t like are sites which are blindly positive or negative about SA. I’ve always tried to strike a bit of a balance on 6000 miles…I’m not completely objective, because this is a personal blog and yes – I like here and I like living here. If I didn’t, I’d pack my son, a few kilos of biltong and a crate of Castle Milk Stout into a rucksack and head for the airport. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t see the bad things that happen here. Or that I ignore them. One only has to look at the coverage that I gave the recent xenophobic violence to see that.

Compare and contrast my attitude with or Read them and you’d wonder how such a perfect Utopian society had previously gone unnoticed by the world. Which it hasn’t, because SA is far from Utopia. And which is why I don’t read them, because being blindly positive is misleading and ignoring the challenges which SA faces doesn’t help overcome those challenges. So really – what’s the point? You still go out of your front door and see the real SA every day.

But then compare that with the doom and gloom merchants like Daxk and his sort on [forum name censored]. They can turn any thread on there into a rant about how miserable life in SA is in about 2 minutes, despite the fact they don’t actually live in SA.

Tourist sights in Cape Town
Hi, I’m coming to a conference in Cape Town and I have a spare morning for sightseeing. What should I see in my spare 4 hours?

1st Reply: If the weather’s good, you should try and get up Table Mountain – it’s a wonderful experience and the views are fantastic.
2nd Reply: Be careful with your bag in Cape Town. The armed robbers look for foreign targets with bags.
3rd Reply: I would think twice about attending the conference if I were you. There was a murder on a farm near Brakpan (fake photos attached) and all the black people in SA have AIDS and rape tourists. 
4th Reply: My mother’s old next-door neighbour’s sister’s boss was hijacked in Jo’burg last year.

And so on.
And that’s why I don’t go on there any more either. Because they are racist idiots.

So it really is a bit of a balancing act on here. Mainly because I think that as soon as a site gets so very subjective one way or the other, the value of the message it is trying to convey is lost. could rapidly join the list if (as I suspect) the user generated content on there is heavily edited to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

Seriously, you’re better off sticking here at 6000 miles… with me. Unbiased, reasoned social comment on South Africa and everything else besides, all for the cost of free. Consider yourself informed.

11 thoughts on “Get the balance right

  1. Its like that on any blog. People comment on whatever they feel like, regardless of the actual post. For eg:

    Post: Blah blah I like penguins.

    a) Penguins transmit disease
    B) Diseases cause AIDs
    c) don’t go to SA – you catch aids by breathing
    d) I breathed in a deathly monkey rancid virus once
    e) @ comment d – it was an std you doos.

    Sigh. I love blogging.

    SheBee’s last blog post was: Too lazy to do a real post (Note: 6000 miles… is not responsible for the content of external internet sites)

  2. Now, now 6000, that was a bit unfair, don’t you think?

    Maybe if you actually did have a look at every now and again, you might see that we don’t paint the picture of a perfect Utopian society. We acknowledge the problems and challenges in South Africa, but we just choose to concentrate our energies on highlighting the progress and the positive developments. We prefer to look at the solution, rather than the problem. Progress doesn’t come from having no challenges, but from responding successfully to challenges.

    We ALL now ALL about the problems – but hardly anyone knows about what is actually being done to tackle them.

    Why? Because the mass media tends to give stories of progress the short end of the stick, so to speak. We make it our business to find these little nuggets and make them more visible. We deal with crime, we deal with HIV, we deal with xenophobia, racism, etcetera, etcetera.

    I often say “don’t just visit our website for news because you will get a skewed version of reality, but don’t just visit because you will get the same”. I urge people to look at both sites – we need to know what is wrong, but we also need to know what is going right. We’re here to correct the information imbalance that favours the bad over the good.

    I’m a great fan of your blog and enjoy your perspective on South Africa. Keep it up – I just wanted to have my say. Thank you for providing me with the opportunity!

  3. @The Good News Guy: Hi Ian – and thanks for the comment.
    I am with you 100% about news24 and similar sites giving a very skewed version of life in SA. As I have said ad nauseum, bad news sells papers, gets readers, gets viewers.
    I stand by what I said about SAGN though, however I probably should have made a distinction between your site and those like news24, in that at least you go out of your way to tell people that you are going to report (some of) the good stuff that is ignored by other “independent”, “objective” sites.
    I recognise that there needs to be some recompense for the ugly vision portrayed by such sites, but I would much rather each site be fair, rather than a naive reader having to visit both places to get an honest view of SA.

  4. Ahem….we unashamedly admit to showing people the good stuff in SA, somebody has to. We all know the bad stuff, hell it’s even on our site under SA Issues, but more importantly it’s everywhere else. Instead of crowing about the bad stuff, we lobby that in the background. Nobody’d pretending it’s all hunky dory, we’re saying open your eyes and you’ll even see the good stuff. Think of us as a microsystem…1 trillion sites that give bad news and two that give the good, we’re still heavily outnumbered and don’t plan on giving up til this balances out. Sometimes sitting on the fence trying to see all sides of every story acheives nothing. Why do you think DaxK sits on our site daily, cause we’ve got under his skin. Let’s try to get under more people’s skins, maybe one day they go, doh, I concede just one minute point…

    Anyway, we’re selling a country. Nobody slags Coca Cola off everyday for not telling people that there’s enough sugar in coke to put you on a sugar rush lasting a week, that kids with ADHD might actually jump off a bridge, that your teeth might actually rot and fall out of your head as you take a sip, that actually they quite like Pepsi when they’re not at work….come on…

    anyway, that off my chest… nice blog.

  5. @Homecoming Revolution gal: Thanks for the comment! I refer you to my reply to Ian at SAgoodnews. I think the same applies to you too. 🙂

  6. Well, I’m quite pleased to have found your blog, 6000 – it’s nice to read about life back in SA, from an immigrant’s perspective. I see you’re blending in well, given your biltong fetish! 😀

    You’re on my watched blogs list, so keep up the good work!

    Helga Hansen’s last blog post was: Fuelling My Anger (Note: 6000 miles… is not responsible for the content of external internet sites)

  7. I’m also really glad to have found your blog..

    It’s so nice to know what’s happening down in the sleepy hollow of Cape Town.

    JHBPRINCESS’s last blog post was: Blogging in my pants (Note: 6000 miles… is not responsible for the content of external internet sites)

  8. it sickening to read comments that all black south africans have got Aids, i wouldnt say it racist cause i dont know where is it coming from bt i would sure say this website is responsible for what is written on it therefore i dont know why it has not been removed unless they agree with this undermining statement.

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