The absurdity of extreme 'hero-worshipping': Trolls, you're at risk too
Many celebs these days command a large fan following - fans who are willing to go to extreme lengths (at least virtually) to defend their hero. They would threaten, bully and 'troll' anyone who criticizes their star. But why has the obsession increased alarmingly? Why are trolls hell-bent on making lives of detractors miserable? And lastly, is this harming the hero-worshippers themselves?
Some of the many, many incidents that caught media attention
The latest to come under fire is American journalist Erin Biba, who dared criticize Elon Musk. Soon, 'MuskBros' were threatening her and spreading slander online. The same happened when former Bigg Boss contestant Sofia Hayat supported Salman Khan's conviction in the poaching-case, and when Maria Sharapova admitted she didn't know Sachin Tendulkar. PM Narendra Modi's following don't need an occasion; general criticism is enough.
Why does admiration become obsession?
Hero-worshipping mostly starts from harmless admiration, and as fans identify with their role-model more and more, the hero becomes 'god.' We ignore their questionable habits, just like we ignore undesirable mythical tales about gods. The models eventually become symbols of all things good. Such tendencies are particularly pronounced in the deeply-religious and still-developing India, where the majority is suffering and constantly seeking distraction.
Internet has done much good, but the opposite too
In the age of Twitter, the mess has increased manifold. Internet has given trolls the greatest gift: anonymity. The advent of 4G and Jio into the hands of unaware, narrow-minded masses has made things worse. It's easier than ever for "heroes" to tap into fans' obsession. Release one positive story/image, real or fake, and trust fans to forget about the scandal they caused days ago.
Forget about victims. Do you know how it's affecting trolls?
Having a role model is certainly desirable: at an optimum level, it teaches one how to be better and more successful. As there's no possibility of rejection, imaginary relations with idols can also bring happiness. But once it crosses the line, one can lose the ability to judge objectively, start focusing on unrealistic goals, and become cut off from what's happening on the ground.
Obsession may even drive fans to the point of suicide
Idolization can even drive obsessed fans to suicide. A 2016 study found that during 2001-2014, India recorded 1,721,946 suicides. 2,395 among them, or 171 a year, were related to 'IHW.' IHW suicides- 'Ideological causes and Hero Worship'- are when fans feel so disturbed by their role models' troubles that they kill themselves. Sixteen people committed suicide when Jayalalithaa was sentenced in the disproportionate assets case.
Facebook, Twitter, and the "heroes": Are you listening?
A big burden lies on social media platforms, which need to buckle up against abusive behavior online. Unfortunately, Facebook and Twitter's efforts have so far fallen far short of the goal: many victims have complained such activities are often ignored by the companies despite hard evidence. The "heroes" also play a role. Most, with their following and popularity at stake, tend to keep quiet.
A last word for you, dear trolls
If trolls are reading this, we respect your love for your idol. But you need to respect our's too. Imagine, if your favorite hero/leader/sportsperson was the only one that existed, the industry would be pretty dull indeed. Ensure variety and color. Respect rivals' fans.