I know I’m not famous because people don’t hate me.
Well, I’m sure some people hate me. I’m pretty certain there’s a kid down the street who hates me and my whole family. He egged our house once, and I’m not being paranoid when I say it was no random act of eggerism. Three years later, that egg stain remains on our front porch ceiling, a testament to our victimhood and my overall laziness.
I used to get the stink-eye from a guy who hated me over something I wrote in the 90s. It’s far too complicated to relate here but it involved politics and his girlfriend. The stink-eye outlasted the girlfriend. Years later, I’m not sure whether he’s still pissed or if that’s just the way he looks now.
But that’s not the kind of hate I mean. I mean anonymous hate, hatred for everything I stand for or perhaps merely for starting sentences with “but.” Hatred that is all out of proportion, from people who lack manners, tact, punctuation, lives. Internet hate.
You’re nobody ’til somebody loathes you, they say. The day someone calls me “GRoss Murray” online, I know I’ll have made it. If they call me “Dross Murray,” I’ll be simply tickled knowing I clearly have the most literate anti-fans around.
For someone to take the time to sit at a keyboard, skim your work, log onto the comments and write, “U Suk!!!” that means you have touched them at the very hateful core of their being.
“Flaming” and “trolling,” it’s called, and it’s all new social behaviour, something that does not exist in nature. If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, is it still “f***ing lame”? No. If a tree falls on YouTube, on the other hand…
A recent study in China found that the Internet is actually making us more angry. Monitoring the Chinese version of Twitter, researchers found that angry tweets were far more likely to be retweeted than others, plus they received more angry replies. Well, duh! Idiot researchers! Stupid fake Chinese Twitter!
And what seems to make people most angry are famous people. Abuse means you’ve made it. I’m sure the new Miss America must have felt a certain thrill of legitimacy when winning a very silly beauty tournament prompted strangers to pick up on her Indian-American heritage, run to their Twitter feeds and describe her as “terrorist,” “Arab” “Un-American” and “Miss 7-11.” After all, one should not underestimate the cultural importance of these beauty pageants.
The other day, I finally saw that Miley Cyrus video, the one where she catches the flu from licking a dirty sledgehammer and riding naked on top of a wrecking ball, poor thing. The comments under the video were truly hateful, as if Miley had personally done these people wrong. Maybe Miley went around to their homes and threatened to sing at them unless they watched the video, in which case, I would be upset too, but I doubt I would call her that word. Or that word. Or that word either. Instead, what I did was turn off the video as quickly as possible because I was a little embarrassed, for both Miley and me and for pretty much all of humankind.
But people wouldn’t be so angry if Miley weren’t so famous. If she were just some girl trying to make it in the music industry by eroticizing demolition equipment, there’d be little to hate. When you’re famous, though, you suddenly become fair game for bile and vitriol – not criticism, which takes actual thought, but anonymous people pointing out that you’re gay/stupid/ugly/a slut/awful/the worst evaaarrrrrr!
Fame engenders abuse. If you’re not abused, therefore, you’re not famous.
In my case, all I get are sweet and supportive comments and nice people telling me how much they like my column. (I’ve been told they particularly liked the one about the humblebrags.) I did once generate a nasty letter when I made fun of rugby but that’s a rugby player for you.
So go ahead, let me have it. Make me famous. Heap on the abuse. Look at my glasses. They’re so cheap and ugly. Hell, I’m cheap and ugly! What am I, some kind of hipster? Do I think I’m funny? I’m not funny. My 12-year-old is funnier than me. I don’t even like rugby! Any person who doesn’t like rugby shouldn’t even be allowed to write. I think I deserve a punch in the face. What a butt-worm! Go ahead, call me a Pez-head. I would throw eggs at my house every single day.
I feel famouser already!