140, not out

Virat Kohli wrote 2016’s most influential tweet — and helped social media keep it real.

By: Editorial | Published: December 8, 2016 12:01 am

Virat Kohli is cricket’s Golden Boy but he hasn’t rested on his game’s laurels. Apart from breaking records on the pitch through the year, Virat has also broken a record online — with over 39,000 retweets, his social media post on Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma has been awarded “Golden Tweet” of 2016. Virat’s tweet isn’t about the lifestyles of the rich and famous, describing the perfection of a Bahamas beach or the sweet treats of a Ritz high tea. Instead, after repeated — and increasingly nasty — online attacks on Anushka, blaming her whenever Virat got run out on the pitch, he finally exploded with: “Shame on people for trolling Anushka non-stop. Have some compassion. She has always only given me positivity.”

This very human short story of our times — strong feelings expressed in just 140 characters — had a happy ending. The misogynists backed off, the applause grew. Women across the board face up to misogynistic taunts throughout their lives. For once, a man shouldered some of the hate, throwing it right back. Other top tweets of 2016, outlined by Twitter analysis, also give cause for hope. Topics that went viral had a wide arc, from discussions on demonetisation to Indian women winning Olympic medals, JNU’s turmoil to the mellifluous duet between Chris Martin and A.R. Rahman at the Coldplay concert.

Tweets swung from the beautiful to the gritty. Even Delhi’s pollution trended, concerned citizens circulating pictures of the thick greyness that suddenly covered their lives. But when it came to social freedoms, Indians joyously expressed more than 50 shades of grey. They lashed out, with anger, hilarity and hard fact, at all forms of domination and bullying, from bans on food to censorship of films, intolerance on culture to misogyny. On the last, of course, Virat Kohli’s tweet won the year, his 140 characters of outrage becoming as memorable as some of his moments on the pitch.

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