Ranjona Banerji: No shortage of twits on Twitter

As if trolls weren’t bad enough, the world must now endure twits who can’t take a joke and will Twitter-splain your own tweet to you

If man-splaining was not bad enough, we now have to endure Twitter-splaining. Yes, yes, I know that the worst thing about Twitter is the abuse. I know that. But trolls are trolls, see. You can always block them if you cannot shame them or, my best bet, gently make fun of them. Aunty jee, you are a bully, said one of them the other day having explained to me in SMS English that my English was terrible. Ah well, I’ll take the compliment and I don’t mean ‘Aunty jee’, though I don’t mind that either. I pretend to myself that it’s good old Indian respect for the grey-haired and wrinkled. (Isn’t it? Oh, damn.)

Prime Minister Modi poses with his new wax statue before its installation at the Madame Tussauds museum in London. Pic/PTI
Prime Minister Modi poses with his new wax statue before its installation at the Madame Tussauds museum in London. Pic/PTI

But Twitter-splaining, oh my, that is an irritant on a whole other level. Suppose you tweet, “Who knew that Prime Minister Modi ji would become a wax model?” Immediately, a whole flock of Earnest Twits will surround you and Twitter-splain: “No no, ma’am (this is another form of Aunty jee), Prime Minister Modi ji is not a wax model.”

Next tweet: “Madame Tussauds have made a wax model of him. Madame Tussauds is a wax museum in London.” Sometimes, 140 characters is not enough to Twitter-splain. Although it is enough to annoy someone. Also it is a revelation to me that Madame Tussauds has not heard of the apostrophe. Perhaps I should woman-splain it to them?

This is when you are happier with a pro-Modi pro-BJP Bhakt troll who will tweet: “Evil, commie, Bong, Macaulayite, Naxal, ISIS follower, presstitute who hates Modi The Great” and put you on a list of “Newstrader Journalists Who Hates Modi the Great”. At least no one is explaining your own tweet to you. Sometimes this even sounds better than “Aunty Jee”.

Let’s say you post a photograph of your cat and caption it, “My pet tiger”. Well, you asked for it. Every person on Twitter with “I am a literal genius who cannot see beyond her nose” written on her T-shirt will reply to you. “That is not a tiger. That is a cattus domesticus.” Or they will retweet your tweet, adding: “Look at this stupid person who thinks a cat is a tiger. ROFL.”

I suppose if you really had a pet tiger you would be justified in setting it on them. And how many people do you think will now tell me that ‘cattus domesticus’ is not a proper Latin term for your pet cat?

Sarcasm, as I must now succumb to Twitter-splaining, cannot exist on Twitter. Because a joke told with a straight face gets the Literals in a Terrible Tizzy. Even worse is Irony. This absolutely upsets the apple cart. Before someone Twitter-splains that apples are no longer transported on carts as often as they once were, I must point out that that was a metaphor. That is, when someone upsets the apple cart, all you Twitter-splainers, as in apples, will fall down on the ground.

Even worse, when you make a joke about someone else’s area of expertise. Like rubbish management jargon or some daft new government scheme. Then you have had it. Every two-bit and high-up expert both will jump in to Twitter-splain. “To have a haircut does not mean going to the barber...” blah blah blah, unfortunately you cannot really fall asleep counting 140 characters of sheer boring nonsense but it comes close.

So you can keep your Earnest, Literal, Twitter-Splainers. Those who cannot see a joke. Those who need a joke explained to them in 280 characters. Yes, dear Literals, I mean in two Tweets. I know that one Tweet is restricted to 140 characters. You can wallow in your self-righteous, tedious, boring little existences. You can make your children’s lives miserable, or your friends or spouse or strangers on the street. Leave me alone. Have I not Twitter-splained this enough?

And instead give me the trolls. Let them call me names. Describe the terrible fate I deserve. Finish off my family. Even refer to me as Aunty jee. I know how to deal with them. But what does one do with someone who cannot tell that a pun is a little bit of fun?

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. You can follow her on Twitter @ranjona

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