Angry Birds: The Addictive Nastiness of Twitter

These days, I find Twitter is becoming an ongoing competition of insults. Like a global ‘Yo Mama’ contest. Or a twisted version of ‘The Hunger Games’ where anyone famous is targeted. In less than the time it takes a director to set up a single shot of a film, the armchair critic has ripped it apart with authority. And exaggerated its boredom as if the rest of his/her life is a never-ending orgasmic celebration.

The winners of this game – those who come up with the nastiest, funniest and most exaggerated put-downs – get rewarded in RTs or retweets. It is an addictive game — to have thousands of followers for someone who was not known beyond his college canteen is a thrill.

I should know: in the days before Twitter, I did this for a living. As a teenager, I used to be a caricaturist and cartoonist for a Bollywood film magazine. Not just thousands of readers, big stars too enjoyed my jokes on their rivals. It felt like a free ticket to get attention and approval without contributing anything really in life.

But there is a price to be paid. I can tell you from experience that a mind which is unforgiving to others’ faults cannot love its own. Attacking others verbally has repercussions even if your ‘victims’ never know who you are. Because what you give out to the Universe, comes back to you in some form. Yes, this applies even on Twitter.

There is a difference between attacking others and pointing out the truth. It’s amazing when people share what they see without fear or favor – when they make razor-sharp, insightful, witty observations. But maybe we don’t need to counter-balance the clichéd star quotes and manufactured PR praise with an overdose of bitterness. Just because they don’t feel right, we don’t need to become wrong. And when you are nasty you say a lot more about what you hate in yourself than about anybody else. Plus, it makes you feel rotten.

A few days ago, this subject of exaggerated nastiness on Twitter came up during a conversation with actor Shah Rukh Khan. His observation was that it comes from a deep-seated desire inside some people to be an opinion-maker, because mass media only allows a few famous people to be influencers. I found it quite insightful. And it made sense that in a shouting crowd of opinions, only the loudest, nastiest or most shocking would be noticed.

But I feel we can be funny and smart and truthful without needing to viciously destroy someone else. With a little effort, we can earn our tiny moment of personal glory while honoring others who have earned it too. I try to remember this when I am tempted to attack someone with a brilliantly witty put-down. And when in doubt, I remember the old adage: Tweet others as you would like to be tweeted.

11 thoughts on “Angry Birds: The Addictive Nastiness of Twitter

  1. First, i am on Twitter because i enjoy being in contact with others or read about others, there opinions and thoughts. I am to shy to do all that in Real-Life. But i will never use my real Name or picture, because like everybody, i have my little demons too and i don`t want them to find or contact me. So in Twitter-terms i could say or twitter what ever i want, even insulting or hurting others, and could get away with it. But such a Twitter-Life would never cross the Egg-stage and i want to fly. I cherish the opportunity of this faceless conversations, it gives a form of freedom and liberty you will get nowhere else. Whenever i think of writing back at someone, before i press the enter-button, i think “would i say this face to face as well?”. Often i get stopped at this point, especially when i was angry writing it. Maybe we only cherish things we know how it feels to loose them.
    Maybe you are right and the lack of respect towards others goes proportional directly into the rudeness and disgusting comments of those wannabe opinion-makers.
    Maybe its just that they are so unbelievable insignificant in there personal life that they need this false importance. Maybe they just a little to small in parts (sorry couldn’t insist).
    Who is the loudest will get heard, that is the truth in almost every aspect of life and in most aspects it gives you a complete wrong point of view!
    PS.: Even my DP is not mine it comes at least quiet close.

  2. there is a Thin line between constructive criticism and insulting abuse.These faceless people who enjoy putting celebrities major hard work down just to get noticed as you said or even satisfy their miserable lonely souls are increasing in number but easy to detect and neglect.Superstars with intellect and brains such as SRK knows & can feel who is true from who is just bitter and nasty for the heck of it. Even us long time twitterers by now can understand these negative lifeless eggs, they are out of their effective desire actually. Shah Rukh khan is much more Higher star than any angry bird could fly . Caricature is different, humorous with little respectful sarcasm, there is no comparison whatsoever, you do it with love and respect as it shows in the lines. SRK has the smartest audience i believe, we love&feel him no matter how much the stupid media or the negative tweets tried to damage that.i hope he feels that as much as we do by now. Brilliant Post Aalif as usual, i like .

    • Thanks… that’s why very few stars are still on twitter. Most have either left of given the jobs to their PR people. SRK is one of the few who still reads and responds himself.

  3. I feel that…these people’s bitter, cowardice attacks, are really a big cry for attention. Their anxiety, sadness, insecurities… they’re not strong enough to honestly admit them, so they displace them…they try to throw it as far away from themselves…they believe they could extinguish all this by attacking, by violently throwing out tension. But what they fail to see is that they attack exactly those who are willing to forgive & understand them. People who would give them attention & react. Perhaps, it is their own way of saying “this is how I feel…like I’ve just made you feel…please help me, look at me…forgive me!”. From the outside, one can see that ultimately this too, is a compliment to Sir Shah Rukh Khan’s many wonderful attributes, but undoubtedly, it is a painful & tormenting experience to endure: to be complimented in such an unsavory, bitter, twisted manner.
    This is my opinion…
    As for caricatures, I do not believe it is similar, because it is impartial: it does not target or aim to offend, but merely to comically underline what already lies in a beholder or situation. in good humor & good taste. This is my opinion.
    Wonderful post Sir, thank you for sharing.

  4. Pingback: The Silent Movie Star « superaalifragilistic

  5. Thought provoking piece. Interesting insight and opinion. Amusing illustrations/analogies. Would like it to have been a little bit more informative for ones (like me) who are somewhat sheltered from all that nonsense on Twitter. I mean, there are a couple of Twitter users I follow/or they follow me who like to talk nasty and make off-color sarcastic jokes using vulgar language and even insulting rank comments (though not toward anybody specific usually). I tolerate one because he posts amazing National Geographic-type photos that I don’t want to miss, and the other because periodically he makes kind, sensible statements worth keeping in mind and sharing. However, the type of nastiness you seem to be referring to, I saw coming from haters attacking celebs, such as Shah Rukh Khan, but I haven’t seen much of that since they can be blocked now to some degree. The worst of those types of disgusting kinds of comments that I myself have come across are in comment sections of online newspapers and magazines, blogs, YouTube, etc. I like to write comments in those but it amazes me how much insolence, hostility, vulgarity, and slander is allowed and tolerated. So, if you are saying that Twitter is like that, then I’m very happy that I haven’t had to deal with it personally. Perhaps that is the advantage of not being popular and not caring to be. Anyway, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I always appreciate your input.

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