Twitter was quite abuzz on Saturday with as many as five actors deactivating their accounts citing negativity and social media toxicity that was bothering them. Sonakshi Sinha led the pack when she wrote, "The first step to protecting your sanity is to stay away from negativity. And no where more of that than twitter these days!"
Saqib Saleem was next to declare, "I'm Breaking Up with you Twitter". In a lengthy post he wrote, "You seem to have gotten lost in all the hate everyone is so ready to throw at each other, a place full of bullies, a place where abusing people is a normal code of conduct... I don't need this kind of energy."
Soon, actors Aayush Sharma and Zaheer Iqbal also followed suit and said 'goodbye' to Twitter on similar grounds. While Sneha Ullal hinted that she might quit Twitter as well.
It all started when Kriti Sanon lashed out at social media toxicity in her recent post after the shocking death of her Raabta co-star Sushant Singh Rajput.
She had written, "Social media is the FAKEST, most toxic place.. if you haven't posted RIP or said something publicly, you're considered not to be grieving. It seems Social Media is the new 'Real' world.. and the Real world has become 'Fake'."
A week ago, filmmaker Shashank Khaitan also deactivated his Twitter account, while filmmaker Karan Johar, who's being massively trolled, after Rajput's death, for promoting nepotistic culture in Bollywood, unfollowed everyone on Twitter, except eight handles (four of which are of his production house).
What is this 'toxicity' on social media which celebs are talking about and slamming through their actions?
A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD
Ad guru Prahlad Kakkar explains. "I've stayed away from social media because there's a lot of negativity, and trolling, which I don't buy. It has empowered a lot of useless people with an opinion, without any repercussions. Also, they do it all anonymously."
Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar, 51, calls it a "double-edged sword" especially for public figures wherein if they comment or post, or even if they don't, nasty feedback always comes their way.
"Social media is toxic, no two ways about it. Sometimes, you get rattled mercilessly, even a spelling mistake gets one trolled," he says, adding, "It has become proof, people take screenshots. You post and think 'maine barabar kiya na?', and check again, because suddenly, you fear being trolled. People get hurt over anything, be it your outlandish clothes, even eating pictures, with comments like 'there are lakhs of people who don't have food'."
PRESSURE TO SAY SOMETHING AT LEAST
Experts point that once a person is on social media, s/he is expected to post on whatever is happening around.
Clinical psychologist Pulkit Sharma elucidates, "If you're on any platform, whether it's about India and China, you have to post. If someone dies or gets married, you have to post, as a celeb. It's like whoever follows your page, you might not be interacting with them but they constantly judge you through your posts. If you haven't replied to someone, you're considered a narcissist. This pressure is always there."
He adds that posting about your grief online on any mishappening is the new normal. "Or actually, abnormal. It isn't necessary that I've to post about everything. Also, when there are many people from your fraternity doing it, you feel like 'iss pe meri taraf se ek post hona hi chahiye'," says Sharma.
Echoing the sentiments Sanon highlighted, Bhandarkar adds, "I agree with Kriti partly. When you feel close to somebody who passed away, you're not in the frame of mind to say anything, you lack words, you want to mourn. But, if you do write on social media, somebody will say 'it happened two days ago, and you're writing?' There's this section also. The problem is, this is a double-edged sword. People expect you to tweet, that has become your validation that you grieved.
Actor Nimrat Kaur says she has never been the one to take any pressure. "Many times, I choose to be silent, and know that you don't need to add to the chorus. I really don't give a damn about what people think, commenting on something or not. I don't write or post anything to garner a reaction, or to become a part of the hashtag club," she tells us.
In fact, when it comes to a tragedy, one doesn't to say anything on social media to prove it, adds Kaur.
"If, I'm personally struck by something deeply tragic, I'm not going to be on some platform, writing about that person… I absolutely stand with anybody who stands for it," she says.
Actor Amit Sadh, on the other hand feels that both toxicity and good are there in equal amounts in life and on social media.
"Unfortunately, as human beings, when we're engaged with provoking and uncomfortable things, it's human psychology that we want to shut the door, and we call it toxic. It's not just about social media. You decide what strata of social media you want to be in, and in that course, in case there's something toxic, or upsets you, you can choose to engage or not," says the 37-year-old.
When contacted, Khaitan to ask about what prompted him, all he said was, "I have no comments right now on any of this, I have said what I wanted to."