When actions don’t speak louder than words

Evidently, when you are a public figure, a slip of the pen, or keyboard, could leave lasting scars

pic credit: instagram.com/vivyyusof

PUBLIC figures have always had a huge influence on their fans and followers. This rings truer now during these trying times, especially when millions of Malaysians are stuck at home.

Many are glued to their phones and social media, looking for a silver lining and hoping for some words of encouragement from their idols. By fate or design, being an idol does not automatically add a feather to your cap where intelligence is concerned.

If public figures are not careful with their choice of words, in writing more than verbal these days, even if only addressed to the targeted few, they could offend hundreds of thousands of people. And when the damage is done, it is almost impossible to undo in the digital world.

Who could forget some elitists and celebrities describing the government’s Bantuan Prihatin Nasional as unfair? They claimed that it would only make the poor richer during the Movement Control Order (MCO), but leave small and medium business owners in the gutter.

Entrepreneur Vivy Yusof (picture) was in much uncharted hot waters for her response, although the distasteful comment was made by her friend, to which she had only allegedly agreed to. The friend, somehow, did not receive the full brunt of the public’s anger.

She lost a huge chunk of her followers — mostly women from the M40 group, maybe even B40, who probably skipped meals in order to save money, so they could buy one of her exclusive “dUCk” headcovers and scarves.

Some labelled her selfish and insensitive towards the less fortunate. Many, though, had forgotten that she raised around RM1.4 million for the B40 and frontliners during the early part of the MCO.

Vivy tried to clear the air several times over Instagram and insisted her words were taken out of context. She apologised for not choosing her words better.

Netizens, however, were less forgiving. If boycotting her products was not enough, there was a petition urging Universiti Teknologi Mara to drop Vivy from its board of directors. This petition, however, has been removed.

Vivy made news again this week when she donated 1,700 pieces of dUCk headcovers worth RM255,000 to frontliners in the medical field.

While loyal supporters praised her for the generous gesture, other netizens continued to criticise her.

Some said it was just an act to cover up her previous blunder, while some questioned the need to mention the value of the donation, and that it was unnecessary if her contribution was truly out of sincerity.

Others mocked her for giving such expensive headcovers (RM150 each) when what the frontliners really need are old or disposable headcovers for their personal protective equipment suits, which cost less than RM50 each.

“I hope nobody will scavenge for contaminated dUCk headcovers in those yellow clinical waste bags,” one netizen commented on Facebook.

Evidently, when you are a public figure, a slip of the pen, or keyboard, could leave lasting scars. Everybody has an opinion and many do not easily forget and forgive.

Farezza Hanum Rashid is the assistant news editor at The Malaysian Reserve.