“We all love a good clapback. It’s a comeback but with that extra oomph.”Mathew Rodriguez
From the advent of the popular Instagram accounts posting screenshots of noteworthy responses from other social media applications like Twitter and Reddit, the art of quirky, sometimes brutal clapbacks has slowly woven itself into the very fabric of social media culture.
Clapbacks that used to entail harmless humour and comments that effectively shut down trolls have warped into what is now known as “social media savagery”. The line has blurred and they have now become the same, more or less.
The trend of clapbacks that was previously the preserve of personal accounts alone has now grown on brands as well. Because these issues are obviously not black and white, there is a spectrum of opinions on the pros and cons of social media clapbacks and the effect the trend has had on brand identity, our real-life experiences, and the states of our mental health, as well as that of other social media users.
Of course, it has its pros. Whether it’s Wendy’s with the sharp, unapologetic retorts or Twitter’s handle with the good-natured banter and five-star puns, the art of clapbacks have helped brands grow and solidify the ideals that they stand for through social media.
It had helped them become less surreal, more relatable and consequently, more popular among the average consumers. The average social media user also wields the power to call out brands who do not perform up to par and demand resolutions through social media now. Whether it’s a bank that has refused to give a refund, a FinTech company that refused to resolve a savings fraud or a designer who creates a truly terrible delivery of the customer’s expectation, social media has given users the power to make their experiences public and get due action taken.
On the other hand, however, the new goal on social media communities is to achieve a viral tweet; to give a response so epic that it receives thousands of likes and reposts by the biggest blogs. But at what expense? The need to be funny, to throw the best jabs, chase clout and receive the attention and followers that comes with it is so all-consuming that we go to impossible lengths to achieve it.
Today, I came across a tweet from a woman who had been trolled for 37days now from the very time she tweeted a selfie of herself last month. She had been thrown insults from thousands of people all over the world, each one trying to outperform the last and throw a jab that would impress other users enough to go viral. Obviously, there was no thought for how their hustle for the 15 minutes of fame would affect her mental and emotional state. As someone who has been trolled on social media before, I know the heart-wrenching feeling that comes with being attacked for no apparent reason and the consequent fear that makes you walk on eggshells in a place that should provide an escape from harsh realities.
Often, we do not realise that the Internet never truly forgets. A naïve tweet created in a bid to impress strangers on social media whom we do not know and may never meet could cause more real-life complications than we could consider.Tweet
There have been one too many tales of legal action being taken based on social media posts or suicide attempts by victims of social media troll attacks.
So, the next time you feel the urge to give that epic clapback, think about the ripple effects. What happens on social media really never stays on social media, does it?
What do you think about social media clapbacks? Have you ever been a victim of an insensitive attempt to gain clout? I would love to hear about it in the comments!