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Hey jealousy

Maybe I should start me own blog?

Maybe I should start me own blog?

I was watching the Oscars last month and monitoring my Twitter feed - where every wag with a smartphone was spewing snark about the film fabularti - when it struck me that being famous must be really stressful.

Imagine the psychic turbulence of having so many people you don't know and never will commenting on your looks, clothes, talent, partner, children and/or (lack of) personality?

And that's probably the nicer stuff that's thumbed into the ether by commenters and doesn't take into account the weird, obscene, threatening, pornographic and libellous speculation carelessly tossed out about folk who are better looking and richer than we are.

If we can offer prayers for the fallen on Anzac Day or commemorate 9/11, and these invocations matter - they supposedly impact somewhere out there in the cosmos - surely all this nasty energy has to stir the pond as well?

It makes me wonder how anybody can generate such certainty - let alone bitterness, hatred and contempt - about someone they've never sat down and talked to?

I'm sure if you've spent time in chat rooms, on blogs, Facebook, Twitter or the like, you've had to pause to consider singer Kamahl's famous lament: "Why are people so unkind?"

In many ways, getting trolled on Twitter or Facebook is a microcosm of the celebrity experience; having internet strangers pick you apart because of a photo, opinion or life statistic to which they've reacted poorly.

Don't worry, this is not another new-to-the-internet-whine about the hostility of the interwebs - I'm actually a decade-long veteran of making my living from the net, so I've observed and absorbed plenty of the venom that beads on people's fingertips when they divorce their identity from opinion.

What I'm more interested in is the complete lack of self-awareness of those who do it; they remind me of junkies yelling at the ticket seller at a train station.

Their dysfunction and self-loathing is sadly on show, then they try to straighten their VB singlet and pretend they're just on the way to work.

It fools no one.

I'm no cleanskin when it comes to slagging off the rich and fabulous, but I also know why I did it.

Usually it welled out of a place of envy that I didn't have what they had, and perhaps a frustration that I did not have the persistence, contacts or talent to get it.

In media, this envy usually comes down to "theirs is bigger than mine": that is, their profile.

So tweeters bitch about successful bloggers, bloggers about columnists, columnists about TV personalities and TV personalities about anyone getting paid more than them.

Show me someone who's sent 40,000 tweets and I'll show you an enraged nobody, pissed off that mainstream media hasn't recognised their genius.

An excellent online piece last month by journalist Claire Connelly interviewed three internet trolls and, not surprisingly, one said "it just makes me happy when I make someone angry".

Two reported being bullied at school, one was unemployed, another a student gamer - and all seemed seduced by what Connelly described as the "power of the weakling" bequeathed by the internet.

I understand only too well that we all can't be Richard Branson, Angelina Jolie or Michael Clarke - people I'm almost certain don't write shitty things about strangers online.

However, I also understand the first step to achieving any kind of personal acceptance and success is to acknowledge you're not Branson, Jolie or Clarke and be cool with it.

Suffice it to say, there are plenty of other ways to be happy in the world than being rich, famous or successful, but I'm pretty certain there's almost no way to be happy if you regularly get off on angering or hurting others.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.

62 comments so far

  • Maybe you should reconsider your membership of twitter, or at the very least, the people you choose to follow, if your feed was chock full of snarky whining.

    Generally speaking, I do not care about much of what falls under the category of gossip. It is something I have to fake, just to be able to have conversations with people about things they're interested in without saying "Dude, I don't give a flying..."

    There's that quote which says something about what small, average and well, sharper minds tend to discuss.

    I think you have erroneously conflated bitching (as seen in your twitter feed) with trolling (where people provoke others, for the sake of the reaction). They're different things.

    Commenter
    hired goon
    Location
    Bony 2012
    Date and time
    March 19, 2012, 6:39PM
    • that quote...makes me feel some sympathy for wealthy women of yesteryear - the smart ones. Imagine having a brain and being unable to use it - no wonder laudinum was mostly a drug of housewives and librarians until it was banned in the US in the early 1900s...

      Commenter
      far away
      Date and time
      March 20, 2012, 7:19AM
    • it also helps one to understand "wealthy" womens of today...

      Commenter
      hired goon
      Date and time
      March 20, 2012, 2:25PM
    • we're not all vapid, Goonie.

      Commenter
      CityChick
      Date and time
      March 20, 2012, 3:55PM
    • I would love to clarify but I would probably sound like a greek bloke jumping out of an airplane... you know what I mean though...

      Commenter
      hired goon
      Date and time
      March 20, 2012, 4:45PM
  • There are few things everyone in the world can do so it's no wonder complaining is so popular.

    Go onto any beach and for every kid building a sandcastle there will be a dozen eager to smash it down, and life doesn't really change that much from then on.

    Commenter
    B3
    Date and time
    March 19, 2012, 7:49PM
    • I seem to be intrinsically motivated. I rarely get jealous, other than perhaps when I think my girl is perving.

      Money, fame and possessions won't move me to jealousy. It's not some Zen state that I've arrived at, it just seems like I was at the back of the queue when coveting was handed out.

      When I cop a personal attack that is blatantly jealous, I just wonder "Don't you have anything about yourself to be proud of?"......after I slag the bejeezus out of them, of course.

      This post may have started off sanctimoniously, but I ain't no saint.

      I think people who are prone to externalising blame are more vulnerable to jealousy.

      Commenter
      Troglodyte
      Location
      Copa...Copacabana
      Date and time
      March 19, 2012, 7:54PM
      • Tall Poppy Syndrome, Heckling... never understood berating someone for being better than me...
        Do understand pointing out mistakes... but when does one know they over step the mark?

        Commenter
        Dadevilish1
        Date and time
        March 19, 2012, 8:39PM
        • The reaction to Jason Russell has been fascinating, firstly the skepticism or even hostility towards his motives followed by the great joy in witnessing his breakdown that seemed to be experienced by many. It's amazing anyone dares put their head up above the proverbial parapet these days lest it gets knocked off.

          Commenter
          Kev
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          March 19, 2012, 8:44PM
          • The vast majority of human beings lead very boring lives, including many so called celebrities. Mainstream and social media is a distraction to keep the bored entertained, many people wouldn't know what to do without it, some even living their lives through these high profile people. As a society we've become a herd of sheet sniffers consuming every piece of gossip we can on people in the 'news'. The negative comments people post are a result of boredom, envy and jealousy with the last two being strong human traits.

            Generally I'm too lazy to take an interest, but last week I opened a SMH piece on Jennifer Love Hewitt and the sparkles she puts on her vag. Have to say it made me feel like a boring, middle-aged man.

            The old quote from Oscar Wilde comes to mind with this topic:

            "Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."

            Commenter
            kermit the log
            Location
            sydney
            Date and time
            March 20, 2012, 12:53AM

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