India has been largely a star struck country – cinema and cricket are a part of all our living room and water-cooler discussions. A celeb is an idol for most of us and we like to know how different they are from their real life persona and how they conduct themselves in their daily lives. With the advent of Twitter, many celebrities hopped on the band wagon as a way to connect with their fans and in some cases to promote their movies. At the same time there are many Twitter users who have joined the site just to connect with their favourite onscreen star on a medium where they are accessible. Twitter has graced the presence of many celebs that share a slice of their daily life with us, post photographs, answer quick questions and acknowledge our dedications to them.
There are some like Saif Ali Khan, who has given statements suggesting he likes to maintain a certain line of distance between him and his fan base. This was his response to question regarding why he has stayed away from the micro-blogging site Twitter. Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif and Kareena Kapoor have also used the same reason and stayed away from the Twitter epidemic that has caught the film industry. On the other hand the site has graced the presence of stalwarts of the industry – from the legendary Shammi Kapoor to the latest kid on block Rajat Barmecha, from the baadshah (SRK) to the Shahenshah (Amitabh Bachchan), the stars have used the site to express their opinions and connect with their fan base. The magic of Twitter even made somewhat a recluse Aamir Khan to join the site.
However, now the tide has turned and some of stars have deleted their accounts and there are more on the verge. Tweeting became no longer an enriching experience connecting with the fan base because instead some of the celebs were hurled with abuses and personal attacks.
Twitter is a platform that is open and allows lower level of content moderation. However, the line of privacy and respect is bleak. ‘Tweeps’ have low level of tolerance when it comes to stars. They are perceived to be an epitome of politically correct, grammatically correct and typo resistant species. If a common user makes a spelling or typo error one might forgive and move on after giving an LOL or #TWHS or #GG. Whereas a celeb’s tweet will be re-tweeted (RTd) several times with funny jokes appended to the native tweet. Be it Shahid tweeting about Quentin Tarantino’s Gran Tarino (sic) or Sonam Kapoor making countless grammar mistakes. We almost perceive them to be perfect with the way they answer or spell or grammatically structure a sentence. If the perception is defied we feel hurt and counter attack.
In pursuit of knowing them, the thin line to respect someone’s privacy is lost and the idolization turns into violent streak if our questions on Twitter are not addressed by our matinee idols. Things turn awry when stars face turmoil in their lives and are attacked with abusive words and even verbal attacks on their family. Arpita Khan (sister of Salman Khan) tweeted almost in tears that she has no comments to make as to why bhai broke up with Katrina. She was being almost forced to answer whether the star Jodi was still a couple or had parted ways. She categorically denied passing any statement saying its Salman’s life and she is no one to comment.
A celeb has massive following on Twitter and a single tweet can create quite a stir. Any user be it a celebrity or not would not like to read abusive words written against them. Social networking is a medium to relax and get away from regular life and connect to a wide network of like-minded people. No wonder many of them quit after getting inundated with attacks from the people who are intolerant and make a joke to get attention. Celeb bashing is the most popular resort to get following. There are dedicated users on Twitter who spoof some celebs and bash every tweet. This is all a resort to get more followers, more re-tweets and thus getting popular. Some of the celebs like Gul Panag or Celina Jaitly are sporty enough and even give a laugh or two. When the attack is personal by way of cursing their family or children in particular no one would take that kind of treatment from strangers who are replying for cheap thrills. Imran Khan posted some really witty tweets and enjoyed the Twitter stint and suddenly decided to quit. Karan Johar had been fairly regular being the glue of the film fraternity and he too suddenly distanced himself from Twitterville. Shah Rukh Khan also went on a Twitter break due to this very reason. Sonu Nigaam was upset as well due to constant personal attacks and took a break. Uday Chopra has been a favourite topic to crack jokes.
A celebrity too needs to understand and realize that the massive fan following can be ugly too. They also need to show bit restraint on their part while making statements on sensitive issues. If they are on Twitter they must realize that it is an interactive medium and should try to answer the legit queries of their followers. As an idol for so many people it is their social responsibility to tweet sensibly and raise awareness about issues that can benefit the masses. Furthermore, their tweets and famous war of tweets is fodder for magazines and newspapers and any ugly public platform war should be avoided. Salman Khan’s tweet regarding Guzaarish was taken totally out of context by the media and created a rift between him and his former prot