In the digital age, where social media has become an integral part of our lives, the effects of online trolling on mental health are increasingly acknowledged.
They dug up information about my hubby & kids, I've never healed - Zubeida Kananu
KTN News anchor Zubeida Kananu finally talks about the online trolling she faced during the 2022 general election and its impact on her mental well-being
Swahili anchor Zubeida Kananu Koome, a prominent figure in Kenya's media landscape, recently shared her experience with online trolling during the 2022 electioneering period.
In a conversation with Cecilia Maundu on the Digital Dada Podcast on December 6, Kananu bravely opened up about the profound impact the trolling had on her mental well-being, revealing a side of the media personality seldom seen by the public.
The toxicity of social media, according to Kananu
Kananu did not mince words about the toxicity that social media has acquired. She expressed the challenges of navigating online spaces where every post becomes a potential target for trolls.
"It's never been easy. Social media has become toxic... Every time you post something they troll you," she said.
The situation escalated during the election season when Kananu posed unpopular questions to the then Deputy President William Ruto, drawing the ire of his supporters.
Recalling the intensity of the trolling, Kananu highlighted how the online vitriol extended beyond criticising her work to targeting innocent individuals associated with her.
"The worst thing is that sometimes they target even innocent people who have nothing to do with what you've posted. It was during the electioneering period...The questions that I asked the President were unpopular with his supporters online. They call you all sorts of names that you are on the opposition to bring him down," she said.
The wave of negativity persisted for three weeks, encompassing not only her professional life but also delving into personal aspects, including her family.
The intrusion into her personal space, particularly concerning her kids and husband, left a lasting psychological impact on Kananu.
"A lot was said. I was trolled and I trended for like three weeks. People were talking about the staff that I din't even know. Then I was hosting the Nairobi Gubernatorial debate and I asked Sakaja a question based on what his opponent had said.
"It did not come from me, but I was trolled for it. They started digging for information about my kids and husband. It affected me psychologically," she said.
Zubeida Kananu's struggle to heal from online trolls
Asked about how she coped with the pressure at the time, Kananu admitted that the wounds still linger.
Despite the passage of time, the scars from the online attacks have not fully healed. The relentless trolling prompted her to take a one-month break from social media to prioritise her mental well-being.
"Today no matter how positive the comments are I dont I have healed from it. It got to a point where I just decided to take a break from social media to just heal from everything," she said.
Even now, she approaches social platforms cautiously, keeping her accounts largely inactive unless they pertain to her professional commitments.
Zubeida Kananu: From an intern to a leader
Zubeida Kananu journey in the media industry is noteworthy. Joining Standard Media Group's KTN News as an intern in 2007, she steadily climbed the ranks to become a prominent Swahili anchor, hosting shows and providing editorial guidance.
In 2022, Kananu achieved another milestone by being elected as the President of the Kenya Editor Guild (KED), marking a historic moment as the first female journalist to lead the body.
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