You might have been too busy gorging yourself with leftover turkey or trying to avoid your relatives by hiding in the back yard to have seen the epic Twitter fight between bad boy rapper Chris Brown and local comedian Jenny Johnson (she won the 2012 Web Awards Tweet of the Year). If so, you missed a doozy.
It all started when Johnson posted the tweet above in response to Brown. Johnson has never been shy about her loathing of Brown, but he hadn't responded until now. Her tweet set off a series of responses from both of them with the worst coming, not surprisingly, from Brown, who described all manner of disgusting sexual suggestions and bodily functions. It was quite a display -- he has since deleted his entire account.
In watching the descent into madness and the ensuing response from the online (and offline) media, there are lessons to be learned. Here are five of them.
5. The 24-second news cycle is both friend and enemy.
News travels extremely fast online. For Johnson, follower count (she already had over 200,000) and notoriety continued to grow just through a simple interaction online with a famous person. For Brown, he added yet another black mark to his already badly tarnished image, unless being a dirtbag, girlfriend abuser is what he was going for. Once the news got out of the fight, news sources picked up the story and ran with it. Most likely, it will be forgotten within a few weeks, only to show up on year-end lists, but as Christopher Plummer said in The Insider, "Fame has a fifteen minute half-life, infamy lasts a little longer."
4. Deleting your account/tweets is dumb.
How many times have celebrities "accidentally" tweeted naked photos or direct messages, only to remove them within seconds and still find them posted all over the Web? Then there is the "I'm going to take my ball and go home" method, which usually lasts a couple weeks before the person is back online like nothing happened. If you screw up and do something stupid on Twitter, just admit it and move on. Sure, if it's a super-offensive tweet, go ahead and remove it, but don't pretend it didn't happen and don't delete your account in a panic. Once it's out there, it will follow you around like luggage. May as well own it.
3. You can't say it's funny after the fact.
There are few things more annoying than someone saying (or posting) really incendiary crap and then when someone gets angry saying, "What? It was just a joke." Brown tried to pull that Jedi mind trick by saying Johnson should know how to take a joke. It is painfully obvious when a joke is a joke and when it isn't. "Why did the chicken cross the road?" is a joke. Threatening to shit on someone's retina (is that even possible?) is not.
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2. Hotheads should probably avoid the Internet in general, and Twitter specifically.
What are dudes like Brown doing on the Internet anyway? Anyone with a temper is going to be sent over the edge by online responses of any kind, but particularly the ones on Twitter where everyone knows who you are. It's one thing to go on massive vitriol-laden rant in the comments of a news story with a handle instead of a name. It's another to post your hate on social networks that can be traced back to you. Sometimes, it's better just to not participate and avoid the crazy your anger generates. Also, maybe take a class or something.
1. Replies can have an impact.
Johnson found out that you can become cyber famous (or more so in her case) in very short order with literally a few keystrokes. Having a famous or even a semi-famous person respond to a tweet can be heartwarming or it can be a disaster. You can thank someone for their great work and have them respond in an appreciative manner. You can also call them a "worthless piece of shit" as Johnson did and find yourself embroiled in a mini scandal and threatened with sharts from a lowlife like Brown. That's the power of the Internet.