Whether Jimmy Kimmel realizes it or not, a celebrity’s Twitter account is already shark infested waters, and his segment has essentially dumped seventeen elephants worth of blood in along with them.
We are all familiar with the Jimmy Kimmel famous, “Celebrities read mean tweets” segment where, for an exhilarating five minutes, we get to watch famous people react to being verbally abused for our amusement. I imagine it’s so popular because all of humanity shares a bond of sadism and loves watching famous people being taken down a notch, but that’s beside the point. What caught me off guard was what Jimmy Kimmel had to say before the segment started; “What you don’t see when you send a nasty tweet is that it can actually cause pain. Here [are some mean tweets being read] for your amusement and, hopefully, reflection.”
Is this some kind of joke?
This is the internet. This is the place where people tell twelve year olds to kill themselves because they made a mistake in a video game. Where every single woman is called an ugly fat whore. People like to refer to the internet as the “wild west” but it’s honestly more like the deepest bowels of Hell. Likewise, the internet is not inhabited by cowboys but the most wretched and foul demon spawn the world can muster. These are the kinds of fiends that love nothing more than to systematically break down a human being for any reason. The more famous, the better.
Whether Jimmy Kimmel realizes it or not, a celebrity’s Twitter account is already shark infested waters, and his segment has essentially dumped seventeen elephants worth of blood in along with them. Even worse, he has turned it into a game. “You know what?” a skilled troll thinks to themselves, “I bet I could write something that would make (insert celebrity here), someone I have an overabundance of information about and no personal connection to, hate themselves. And if I make them hate themselves a lot, I’ll get to be on TV!”
People like to refer to the internet as the “wild west” but it’s honestly more like the deepest bowels of Hell.
But I don’t want anyone to mistake this for criticism. Ignoring Jimmy’s little sanctimonious comment, this model is brilliant. Not only is it popular content (as evident by the hundreds of millions of YouTube views the skits have racked up) but also self perpetuating. The more people see that celebrities actually read their mean tweets, the more satisfaction they’ll get out of sending them. Essentially, Jimmy Kimmel has made the internet troll’s fantasy of causing emotional pain a potential reality. Furthermore, the cherry on top, the icing on the cake; millions of people get to see their proud work, their magnus opus of trolling. It’s basically like broadcasting serial murders except less blood and more emotional trauma.
If Jimmy Kimmel honestly believes that he’s helping tone back the constant flaming of prevalent celebrities by making trolls realize they’re hurting people, he’s a complete ignoramus. The internet is, first and foremost, the place where basic human empathy goes to die. If he actually wanted to help, the best thing to do would be absolutely nothing. First and foremost, recognizing, arguing with, or acknowledging verbally abusive assholes on Twitter only makes them want to be more verbally abusive. They just want attention. If one does not feed the trolls, they will get hungry and they will just go somewhere else looking for tasty, salty tears. The only “reflection” this segment is giving them is the satisfaction of a job well done.