Culture

How I Became The Most Hated Person On The Internet Overnight

One horrible coincidence, 17,000 retweets, and a whole bunch of death threats.

“I hope you die.”, “Piece of shit.”, “You’re a wizard.”

My name is Tim Reuben, I’m a Sydney-based actor and comedian and occasional Tweeter, and these are some of the messages, along with thousands of others, that I surprisingly woke up to last Sunday morning. But to be honest, most of them were not of the “you’re a wizard” kind.

Holy shit. What have I done?

I’m a massive fan of UFC, the mixed martial arts fighting events, where two guys step into an octagon and beat the shit out of each other. No, I don’t have a sleeve tattoo, nor do I wear Ed Hardy. I just think it’s an exciting sport.

Last Sunday, the biggest fight in the history of the sport was taking place between two top guys: the Brazilian, Anderson Silva (my favourite fighter ever), who had been the champion for as long as I could remember, and Chris Weidman, a newcomer who had controversially beaten Silva earlier in the year. This was the re-match. It was gonna be huge. Silva was going to clean him up.

The night before the fight, I was lazing on the couch with my girlfriend Paige, casually flipping through Twitter, when I rolled over Silva’s account and saw that he’d been at a Boyz II Men concert that night. We thought it was funny, and Paige came up with the idea that I should tweet him wishing him luck for his clash tomorrow.

TimTweet

The tweet was sent. I thought nothing of it. We went to bed.

And then Fight Day happened.

The following day, the fight was on. I couldn’t wait. We went to watch it in some pub near the beach. Paige was bored, but is also the best girlfriend ever. The fight started, Silva kicked, his leg snapped in half and bent around the wrong way. The pub gasped, the fight ended, we left.

You can watch footage of the actual break here. For those of you with weaker stomachs, here’s a supercut of people reacting to it instead.

My heart was in my mouth. Not because of my tweet, but because an athlete whose career I’d been following for ages had been badly injured and would probably have to retire. It was the end of an era.

And then Twitter Day happened.

The next day I awoke to a Facebook message from a friend on my phone. “Well done. Check Twitter,” it said.

My tweet was at the top of Silva’s page right before the fight, and then he’d walked into the octagon and broke his leg. According to the internet, I’d jinxed him. The tweet itself had been retweeted thirteen thousand times and seen by countless other fans around the world, most of whom were not happy. There were death threats, insults, and a small semi-religious following who considered me to be a prophet.

There were so many hate tweets coming in by the minute, and some so extreme that I actually started to find the whole thing funny. I shared and favourited the “best ones”, because I wanted my friends and followers to be able to see how insane this was all becoming.

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Some of them weren’t so aggressive. Probably my favourite of all has been:

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Within the week, the story had been featured on a few sites, including Failblog, and I’d earned the title of “the most hated man in Brazil“.

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What I’ve learned about Twitter trolls

Most normal people on Twitter have, roughly, somewhere between 50 and 200 followers. But the people who write angry, nasty things tend to have between one and five followers. While all the regular ‘tweople’ are censored by the fact that their friends, family and co-workers see what they tweet, these people are not. They’re answerable to no one and are generally anonymous, and it’s like they basically set up their accounts as a means to yell and scream at people. Either that or they genuinely have nothing and no one in their lives, in which case I’d probably be pretty angry too.

But it’s not all bad. I’ve also gained quite a decent number of followers who, I presume, find this whole thing to be as funny as I do. I’ve taken a pretty lighthearted approach to it all, and I think Twitter is coming around too. As soon as Silva’s break happened, I sent out the following tweet:

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If I do have a magical power, I may as well use it for good, right?

Tim Reuben is a Sydney-based actor and comedian. Check out his stand-up comedy here, his sketch comedy here, and more of those aggressive tweets here.