A bandwagon, or as I’d like to call it, Bhedchaal, is a successful or fashionable activity that attracts many people. And then there’s outrage culture, which means when people play the victim card and bend over backwards to be offended as much as possible when they aren’t. In the current landscape of the internet, these two have a close relationship with each other. And these two have brought nothing but trouble and harm to people.
Filthy Frank once said, “There have always been stupid people but the internet provides greater opportunity for stupidity to be expressed and paraded and with this day and age of the internet, ignorance is a choice and they’re still choosing ignorance.” I think this quote pretty much sums up everything that is going on in the online world.
If I talk about the Indian context, there are many examples of a bandwagon and outrage culture and how it affects society and the environment of the internet. But first, let me say there is only one incident where outrage culture has done the right thing: the Blitzchung Controversy. Video Game company Blizzard banned a Heartstone player named Blitzchung and two announcers for their support of the ongoing Hong Kong protest.
People were furious about the ban and went on Twitter to condemn Blizzard for its actions. Things have gone so bad that even the U.S. Congress got involved and criticised Blizzard’s move of bowing down to their Chinese political masters. Eventually, their suspension was reduced, but the damage was done and Blizzard became the most hated video game company in 2019.
And in 2020, during the George Floyd protest, they dared to talk about racism and democracy when they bowed down to a not so democratic Chinese Government to make some bucks.
That being said, this is the only time outrage culture worked. Most of the times, all it does is create more chaos alongside the Bhedchaal mentality. And that chaos has spiralled out of control at this point.
The PewDiePie vs T-Series feud is the perfect example of how outrage culture and Bhedchaal mixes up with patriotism. Popular YouTuber PewDiePie dissed T-Series because both channels were on their way to 100 million subscribers, criticised Ekta Kapoor and her terrible TV shows, terrible cartoons like Chota Bheem and Motu Patlu and at times joked about India. And PewDiePie fans went out of their way to attack Indians, which PewDiePie discouraged them from doing so.
But people who supported T-Series, especially the audience, started to attack PewDiePie and his fans in the name of patriotism. Indian Youtubers saw this as an opportunity to gain clout, fame and money and started making terrible roast videos and diss tracks about PewDiePie in the name of patriotism. Because PewDiePie made some jokes about India, people were outraged, even though they didn’t have to be.
His jokes were taken out of context and people took it personally to attack him and those who defended him. YouTubers like Saiman Says who supported PewDiePie received death threats because of his support for PewDiePie. They called him a Deshdrohi, even though they don’t know what the Sedition law is, i.e. Section 124A of IPC.
The feud eventually ended with the aftermath of Christchurch shooting because the shooter allegedly supported PewDiePie and the latter was forced to end it. Both channels eventually made it to 100 million subscribers.
Another example is Hindustani Bhau, who started as a meme and eventually became an internet sensation. He even got an entry into Bigg Boss even though he was kicked out soon. Hindustani Bhau then started abusing people, even as far as giving rape threats to women and girls in the name of patriotism. He was also abusing people from Pakistan and China, even though the Chinese don’t speak Hindi, nor do they have YouTube.
PapaOcus made a video about how people started to copy him and decided to join his bandwagon like Subham Mishra. They outrage over some joke about a historical figure that they pretend to hold most dear when in reality they want clout and content. When Mishra sent rape threats to Agrima because she joked about Shivaji Maharaj, he thought he was making content. However, people started calling him and Hindustani Bhau out because of how disgusting the threats were.
Mishra tried to justify his actions in his follow-up video and Hindustani Bhau’s initial support for him, which got him into trouble. The Vadodara Police eventually arrested him under IPC 294, 354(A), 504, 506, 506 and 509 and Section 67 of the IT Act 2009.
I’m going to say this, T-Series and Hindustani Bhau do not represent patriotism, and Subham Mishra does not represent Shivaji Maharaj. Patriotism has become an excuse for them to gain clout and rage at some jokes; the same goes for the people who join this toxic bandwagon.
When the YouTube vs Tik-Tok feud began in April 2020 because two Tik Tokers responded to some videos made by roasters on YouTube, it spiralled out of control and gave the roasters an excuse to milk off from the response and call out Tik-Tokers for their bad content. In all honesty, even before this feud, people were just crapping on Tik-Tok, 12 times in the name of roasting and they got offended just because some of the Tik-Tokers finally responded.
This made audiences outrage for the wrong reasons and roaster and the public joined the bandwagon crusade against Tik-Tok. Dhruv Rathee made a video about how this feud has given justification to use homophobic slurs against Tik-Tokers which undermine the progress made by the people of the LGBTQIA+ community. Shwetabh Gangwar also made a video about how the word chakka is very dangerous. Youtuber Yogi Baba explained that homophobic slurs should never be normalised because the societal perception of the LGBTQIA+ is still negative.
Sadly, people are just mimicking what their influencers do and they try to outrage on something they don’t understand.
The Sushant Singh Rajput incident was when outrage culture and bandwagon was at its worst. Following Sushant Singh Rajput’s tragic demise on 14 June, 2020, people were initially saddened by the young actor’s tragic death. However, his death was perverted by the TRP vultures and some people used his death to vent out their frustration against Bollywood.
People started making JFK like conspiracy theories in the name of justice and they found a scapegoat to outrage at — Rhea Chakraborty (Sushant’s girlfriend). She became the modern-day “communist pariah” in the digital age McCarthyism and she was harassed by both the media and people online. Because of this, the morality of this case was being questioned.
CaptainJamV says that people get together to hate on someone. This outrage against Rhea, and the people who jump the gun without understanding her situation, is sad. Her father, a retired army officer, was harassed by the same TRP vultures of TV media who pride themselves on supporting the army. And imagine if she does something to herself, who will be responsible for it? I know it’s going to be no one because they won’t take accountability.
This culture has gotten so toxic that it affects people physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically. And at times it just becomes too much for a person, like the case of Hana Kimura, a Japanese wrestler who committed suicide because she was harassed by people online over some fight in a reality show. Because of this, the internet is a cesspool and people are just trying to mindlessly follow what their influencers have to say and outrage on.
Twitter and YouTube are already a dystopia where people hate one another and little decency is left on those sites.
With the ongoing pandemic, people have a lot of free time left on their hands and sometimes it is used for the wrong reasons. People are very fickle. They boycotted Chinese products during the India-China Clash in June, and a few days later they bought the One Plus 8, a Chinese phone.
Not only is this outrage culture hypocritical and selective, just like Bollywood and Hollywood celebrities, but it is just plain stupid. And a recent incident regarding a comedian getting beaten up over his alleged jokes about religious deities shows the mob’s sheer depravity. I know everyone is entitled to their opinion under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, but Article 19(2) gives reasonable restrictions to the former to protect the sovereign’s position.
Unfortunately, these two articles are thrown out the window by outrage culture and Bhedchaal mentality. These two need to be stopped; otherwise, it will ruin both the internet and the country.