Rihanna likes to talk a lot of ish on Twitter — but she doesn’t usually start the fire. In an age where celebrities are connected and many of them control their own social media accounts they can see everything you tag them in without the usual PR team in the middle to cushion the blow — or hide the really bad stuff.
Recently, in response to a Tweet from CNN host Piers Morgan who suggested she should grow her hair back out after her VMAs appearance, she suggested he grow a [redacted reference to a piece of the male sexual anatomy]. And when fully lady Joan Rivers critiqued her relationship with Chris Brown, Rihanna was quick to Tweet back and call Rivers out.
It’s not just people who face Rihanna’s wrath. When MTV Tweeted that Rihanna might not want to get caught smoking possibly illegal substances at Coachella, she Tweeted back to inform them she ran out of f**** to give.
But here’s the thing: in all the gossip around Rihanna’s Twitter beefs, she doesn’t start or go looking for fights. She’s responding to Tweets she’s tagged in. It’s safe to say that Rihanna’s getting trolled.
A 2009 Stanford study may explain why people act like such trolls online, finding that people with relatively extreme opinions may be more willing to publicly share their views than those with more moderate views.
So extremely opinionated people, like Piers Morgan and Joan Rivers (along with every nutjob who creates a Twitter account), are more willing to share their thoughts on Rihanna not only with the entire Internet but with Rihanna herself. And the function of doing it on Twitter, where you only have 140 characters, makes the opinions seem that much more abrupt. Rihanna’s virile responses only feed the trolls.
The really crazy part: the study suggests that the more people see others expressing their opinions unabashedly, especially extreme opinions, the more normal the behavior becomes.
Take a lesson and keep yourself out of the beef: don’t Tweet anything about Rihanna you wouldn’t say to her face.
-Courtney E. Smith, CBS Local