Karan Johar quits Twitter: Increasing negativity makes celebs leave social media for good – #BigStory | Hindi Movie News

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Social media is a double edged sword. As clichéd as that may sound, one cannot deny that the very foundation (called algorithm) of social media is designed to be addictive and toxic, causing detrimental effects on one’s mental health. Experts suggest taking a break and putting down your phone or even taking it a step further and deleting your social media account can be the boost you need to start improving mental health and feeling better.

Perhaps that’s exactly what prompted Karan Johar to bid his nearly two million followers on Twitter good bye, and ‘make space for more positive energies’. He isn’t the only one to go this far in search of a digital detox though. Celebrities world over have prioritised their peace of mind and chosen to get rid of the negativity brought about by trolls over the years.

In 2018, Hina Khan threatened to quit social media after being fed up with trolls. In 2020, Sonakshi Sinha deactivated her Twitter account to shield herself from the online hate and trolling. The same day Saqib Saleem quit the microblogging site stating bullying, hatred and lack of kindness as reasons. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle decided to reject social media in 2020 as they were ‘disillusioned by the hate they encountered online’. Aayush Sharma too concluded he did not sign up for the nasty herd mentality and wrote, “280 characters are less to define a human being. But 280 characters are more than enough to spread fake news, hatred, and negativity.” Director Shashank Khaitaan described Twitter as a “breeding ground for hate and negativity” and announced that he was quitting the platform. Millie Bobby Brown, Miley Cyrus, Pete Davidson and many others left social media, either temporarily or permanently, as they could not handle the negativity.

Today’s #BigStory explores what it is about the social media that affects the celebs to an extent that they decide to leave the platform, how they deal with trolls, whether it is a well thought out publicity stunt and more. Read on.

Impact of social media negativity

Celebrities, like all other human beings, experience the same emotions. In most cases, they are more vulnerable than others, though some believe that adulation and abuse are two sides of the same coin; so they should be able to manage it better. According to psychiatrist Harish Shetty, “One thing every person who engages with the masses should realise is that criticism and ridicule is part of the game, and when it becomes humongous, one has a right to protect oneself from abuse by just switching off! Nothing wrong with it at all.”

Somy Ali feels sorry that Karan had to shut down his account. “Karan is and always has been a wonderful person. And I say this with absolutely zero biases given I have nothing to gain or lose from him,” she says. “While I am not aware of the trolling in depth pertaining to Karan, it saddens me that it reached a point where he or anyone else for that matter have to close their social media accounts.”

Swara Bhasker, who is often seen taking down the various trolls who target her online, agrees negativity and trolling affects mental health just like harsh words affect other human beings. “I too used to feel very hurt and upset. My mother and father also get affected when they read such comments about me. The fact is these trolls don’t even know you. But that’s the whole point – social media has sort of deteriorated into a space where instead of being a place to communicate, share and learn, we have turned it into an arena where, without any accountability, one has the power to tag and abuse people they would never even meet in real life. And even if they do meet in real life, they would probably ask for a selfie,” she says.

Zaheer Iqbal, who bid goodbye to Twitter in 2020, believes social media doesn’t affect everyone all the same. “Those who do not get affected don’t understand that others get affected by it. I think it depends from person to person, but it’s a good thing we have the power in our hands to disconnect. You should be self aware to know when you reach a point where you can’t take it and then stop,” he says.

For Sameera Reddy, social media began as a very negative thing that she thought was very fake, where there was a very big misrepresentation of what reality is and what we are trying to show. “That is the confusion that exhausts people,” she says. “I am very clear today and that clarity will not let me get affected by trolls because I am walking my path and my path is very clear. Social media for me is a tool that lets me be myself. You have to choose to be yourself to not let all the rubbish stress you out. The community on my page is a very secure and positive and safe space for conversation. That’s the reason why I look at social media as a positive space full of influence. I also feel what people say doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. I am actually quite comfortable today with social media and I am very happy to have this experience of being accessible. Because it’s a way through which I understand people and people better understand me.”

Celebrities often share personal life updates like marriage, pregnancy, separation that often leaves them vulnerable to judgment and hate online. Shrenik Gandhi, founder and CEO of brand and digital agency White Rivers Media, believes if one considers their social media army as an extended family, it is good to share personal life updates. “It makes a statement and also one can request for privacy, so it’s a good thing to do as you are being honest with your followers. There might be some who do it to instigate to create controversy, that is a wrong practice,” he says.

Why quit?


Celebs often take a break from social media as they believe that peace of mind is more precious than a tweet or a social media post. “They also are slowly realising that they do not need social media, but it’s true otherwise too!” states Harish Shetty.

Rakhi Sawant opines one should not be bothered with trolling. “Everyone gets trolled,” she says. “But maybe Karan Johar wants to be in the limelight for positive things and not negative ones. Big celebs become easy targets unnecessarily. They work hard for themselves and
jo ped pe phal hota hai, usi pe log patthar maarte hain. That’s why some celebs are quitting social media.”

Swara believes social media gives people a kind of power where they can abuse very easily, without any accountability. “It makes those that get targeted feel that this is not the kind of negativity they need in their lives and hence they decide to quit social media,” she explains. “Another thing that started happening is that social media created this discourse that perception is everything, and reality doesn’t really matter. It’s just as long as whatever perception is created,
usko hi karte raho. That is a very tricky space that we have gotten into. People say anything, they make accusations, and speak whatever they want. So that makes people want to quit, I personally have also thought about it a couple of times.”

Sameera prefers to keep her social media feed very real and says, to each his own. “I don’t hide anything and share what’s real,” she says. “When you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. Fear comes from wanting adulation, from being judged. But when that doesn’t matter, then where is the stress? If people love me or don’t, I still love myself and my family loves me. I am very clear about that. It’s a personal choice, you can’t tell anybody there’s a right way or wrong way of handling social media. You can’t please everybody. And one of the biggest mistakes I made as an actress in the past was trying to keep up with people’s expectations. Today, thanks to Instagram I have completely taken a U-turn. I have to actually thank social media for allowing me to be myself. It is the most beautiful feeling in the world,” she adds.

Celebrity image strategist Anusha Iyer advises her clients to treat social media as an extended arm, a prong and not make it their identity. “Learn to switch on and off,” she says. “And in that lies the secret of not getting affected. No one can insult you without your consent! Without your clouded emotion, they are just words, mere words, a set of alphabets strung together. Don’t waste your energy or effort on reacting to negativities. Ignore the trolls. Once there is no reaction, they die down. Remember, at the end, truth always prevails. And if you don’t like it, quit the media. What is the sense in letting insignificant strangers dictate the way you feel about yourself and your actions!”

Dealing with trolls


Trolls have a herd mentality and they thrive on the relative anonymity afforded to them in this system. Many of them use social media to vent out the negativity they are experiencing in their own lives. Pooja Bedi does not take trolling personally. “We are meant to use, control and consume social media to our benefit, not vice versa,” she says. “The trolls never bother me. I find them amusing. Out of lakhs of followers there may be a handful of annoying, rude, mean individuals. So I just focus on the larger numbers who do matter and for whom I matter. If I am entitled to an opinion, everyone is entitled to an opinion and I am happy to hear everyone out and even agree and laugh at myself if required. I only block those who are abusive or unlawful as that’s unacceptable. We can agree to disagree.”

Somy maintains two separate accounts, one for her NGO and one where she can be Somy. “In order to regulate the interaction, no one can comment unless I allow them,” Somy shares. “I barely read the DMs unless they are sent to my NGO’s social media. I am also very quick to block and report such accounts. There is no way to avoid them, we will always have violence as well as peacemakers. It’s a mix which is inevitable, and I pray that there is a day where people are nicer to one another on social media.”

Swara has a foolproof mantra. “One can liberally block people who are abusive, limit who can comment on posts that are personal,” she says. “I read only verified handle comments, you have to protect yourself. Nobody needs to have a free run to interact with you if you don’t want to. I deal with trolls depending on my mood on that day – I block, I ignore, or quote retweets and shame them back.”

Sameera is well aware there are a bunch of people who may not like or may not want to see what she posts, and she is okay with that. “Everybody has their own base. You get trolled when you create a space that doesn’t understand you,” she explains. “My followers understand me. You will also get that set of people who will pull you down, but the majority is saying we want this positive, real conversation. Today times have changed. Unlike many stars who had reservations being accessible in the past, I am happy to be accessible. And there are times you may want to take a step back. You are your voice. No one should be directing you, but yourself. In my brain, today I have entered a space where I absolutely love, respect and am committed to myself. My commitment to my self preservation is my highest priority. That is why nothing usually shakes me.”

Zaheer believes there is no end to this negativity, but how to deal with it is in our control. “I can give an example of my friend who is also an actor and was getting trolled. I recommended he shut the comments. He did and that was the end of it. I don’t get affected by trolls. My way of dealing with trolls is looking at good comments, or sometimes shutting down my phone. I don’t expect every post of mine to be liked and I accept constructive criticism, but downright mean comments are not acceptable,” he says.

Rakhi chooses to give it back to trolls. “I don’t keep shut,” she says. “I feel social media is a way to reach out to people. When I started working in the industry, there was no social media. I didn’t get the mileage. But today social media takes you inside the homes of people in a very short time. So social media is very important I believe. It can make you a celeb, no matter if you are a chai wala, or a corporate employee. But there are two sides to any coin. Once you become a celeb, you don’t have a personal life.”

Shrenik feels stardom is very fragile, especially in India. “When so many trolls attack celebs, it might lead to a negative mindset. We advise clients that they have to understand that the entire troll ecosystem is in an echo chamber. Only if the negativity is the real sentiment, should one be affected and take corrective action. But hiding from the problem is not the solution. One should introspect whether we are actually solving the problem,” he says.

Secret profiles


Some celebs may not want to expose their personal lives on social media, but they do have the FOMO of all that’s happening in the digital world. There are stars who create secret/fake profiles just to keep up with the trends. Ranbir Kapoor is known to have a fake profile that no one is aware of.

Swara feels a secret profile is a way to protect one’s privacy. “I also have a fake profile on Instagram that no one knows about,” she reveals.

Shrenik says creating multiple accounts is the flavour of the season and many do it. “It is good to have a secret profile, especially if the person is of big influence. One needs to tread carefully and not comment, like, dislike something they are not supposed to,” he says.

A publicity stunt?


That’s one question that often pops up each time a celebrity announces their exit from social media. Harish Shetty, who peers into psychology, does not think that celebs quit social media for publicity, but rather they actually voice a dissent or a protest with the act.

Shrenik states these kinds of gimmicks worked a few years back, but people have become smarter now. “It could have been a publicity stunt a few years back, but now there is no scope as one would see through it and the publicity stunt will become negative instead,” he says.

Zaheer believes it’s completely in our hands how much to interact on social media. “No one is putting a gun to our head,” he says. “I don’t think it makes sense to quit social media for publicity. If you are so hungry for publicity, there is also adulation coming along with social media. So for a one time publicity, I don’t think you would want to give up social media.”

Swara agrees and says, “I think the reasons that most celebs give for quitting are absolutely valid reasons that I can completely understand and relate to.”

Anusha Iyer believes Bollywood is larger than life and at times stars do tend to take home the dramatisation. “At other times, it could be because the star doesn’t want to oblige that one! So he pretends to quit and once it’s sorted, is back by public demand!” she quips.

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