I’ve never really understood extreme hatred for famous people online. Okay, if they’re a transphobe, or homophobe, or any other kind of ‘phobe’ for that matter - dislike and contempt is rightly deserved, but to hate a man who seemingly just goes around with his guitar and then gets on with his life? I’ll never understand it.
I’m talking about Ed Sheeran and his world tour beginning in Ireland at the weekend. If you were to exist solely on the echo chamber of Twitter, you would think that Ed Sheeran is perhaps the most loathed artist out there.
There are so many Tweets from fans who absolutely loved last night's concert, but you still have those who express their abhorrence towards him online. In 2017, Sheeran quit Twitter, citing abuse from trolls as the reason for doing so. “The head-f*** for me has been trying to work out why people dislike me so much," he told The Sun. A quick search on his name on Twitter brings up some of these Tweets, but I can leave the worst for your imagination.
"I'd rather die of thirst than see that scare crow bait his guitar."
"Socialising would be the kind of thing he would do alright. He wouldn’t know a day’s work if it kicked him up his big British hole"
"I simply cannot believe THAT many people wanted to go and see Ed sheeran"
"He isn't even mediocre. In fact he's below mediocre - but perfect for a generation that lacks substance and quality."
"Steve Earle’s Galway Girl is the only song with this title that deserves to be in existence.
“That thing of Sheeran’s should be shot into space."
"He is also a knob and outdated"
It can be easy to reaffirm your ideas of contempt when you put it out in a space which you have curated, and due to the many algorithms at play, has been curated for you.
However, step away from the online world and into the real world, and the numbers don’t lie. Over 80,000 fans flocked to Croke Park to see Ed Sheeran perform on Saturday night, with 400,000 people expected to turn out for his concerts on the island of Ireland this week.
Of the 80,000 who turned up to Croker, many seemed to be teenage girls in flocks with their friends, or families where children were delighted to be at a concert for the first time in two years, if not at their very first concert. Why would anyone begrudge those two groups of people wanting to enjoy themselves, or at the artist providing the fun and entertainment? I went to the concert myself when my friend offered me a spare ticket and had a ball. I’m not a massive Ed fan but for sheer performance quality and raw singing ability it was out of this world. Looking at the pure enjoyment of those around me, and on Ed’s face itself, it’s hard to imagine masses of people online who would begrudge one man and his guitar so adamantly.
Scoffing at artists who have entered the mainstream is by no means a new phenomenon, and we’ve seen it with musicians heading to Croker before. The infamous Garthgate involving Garth Brooks and his concerts churned a lot of discussion on the aforementioned Twitter, with seemingly hordes of people angrily dismissing his popularity, and many claiming to ‘hate’ his music.
Am I a Garth Brooks fan? Not particularly, I don’t like country music. Do I go online at the first chance to rant about it? No, I’m not that weird. It’s not just in music where this applies. James Corden, once beloved by people as Smithy on Gavin and Stacey, is now discussed with venom online. Again, do I find James Corden hilarious, or even funny? Not really. Do I despise the man because of this? Again, no. Unless Corden or Sheeran are suddenly unveiled as racists or randomly attack my family, I have absolutely no reason to hate them.
Not liking things doesn’t mean you have to vent disgust on Twitter and wait feverishly for the likes and comments to come in. We’re all entitled to our opinions, but that doesn’t mean that we have to voice them at all times in any manner we deem acceptable. If I were to furiously type every negative thought I had onto social media platforms I would get nothing done. Laundry would build up, work emails go unanswered, and friends might start suggesting anger management classes – or perhaps a diary where I could just as easily let go of my thoughts without the eyes of potentially thousands of people peering in.
There’s always the risk that putting yourself out there will draw some criticism. Sometimes criticism can be good and encourages us to do better, but it’s criticism for the sake of wanting to criticise which serves no purpose to absolutely anyone, least of all the person spewing the hate.