Hey jealousy

I was watching the Oscars last month and monitoring my Twitter feed - where every wag with a smartphone was spewing snark about the film fabularti - when it struck me that being famous must be really stressful.

Imagine the psychic turbulence of having so many people you don't know and never will commenting on your looks, clothes, talent, partner, children and/or (lack of) personality?

In many ways, getting trolled on Twitter or Facebook is a microcosm of the celebrity experience; having internet strangers pick you apart because of a photo, opinion or life statistic they've reacted poorly to.

And that's probably the nicer stuff that's thumbed into the ether by commenters and doesn't take into account the weird, obscene, threatening, pornographic and libellous speculation carelessly tossed out about folk who are better looking and richer than we are.

If we can offer prayers for the fallen on Anzac Day or commemorate 9/11, and these invocations matter - they supposedly impact somewhere out there in the cosmos - surely all this nasty energy has to stir the pond as well?

It makes me wonder how anybody can generate such certainty - let alone bitterness, hatred and contempt - about someone they've never sat down and talked to?

I'm sure if you've spent time in chat rooms, on blogs, Facebook, Twitter or the like, you've had to pause to consider singer Kamahl's famous lament: "Why are people so unkind?"

In many ways, getting trolled on Twitter or Facebook is a microcosm of the celebrity experience; having internet strangers pick you apart because of a photo, opinion or life statistic to which they've reacted poorly.

Don't worry, this is not another new-to-the-internet-whine about the hostility of the interwebs - I'm actually a decade-long veteran of making my living from the net, so I've observed and absorbed plenty of the venom that beads on people's fingertips when they divorce their identity from opinion.

What I'm more interested in is the complete lack of self-awareness of those who do it; they remind me of junkies yelling at the ticket seller at a train station.

Their dysfunction and self-loathing is sadly on show, then they try to straighten their VB singlet and pretend they're just on the way to work.

It fools no one.

I'm no cleanskin when it comes to slagging off the rich and fabulous, but I also know why I did it.

Usually it welled out of a place of envy that I didn't have what they had, and perhaps a frustration that I did not have the persistence, contacts or talent to get it.

In media, this envy usually comes down to "theirs is bigger than mine": that is, their profile.

So tweeters bitch about successful bloggers, bloggers about columnists, columnists about TV personalities and TV personalities about anyone getting paid more than them.

Show me someone who's sent 40,000 tweets and I'll show you an enraged nobody, pissed off that mainstream media hasn't recognised their genius.

An excellent online piece last month by journalist Claire Connelly interviewed three internet trolls and, not surprisingly, one said "it just makes me happy when I make someone angry".

Two reported being bullied at school, one was unemployed, another a student gamer - and all seemed seduced by what Connelly described as the "power of the weakling" bequeathed by the internet.

I understand only too well that we all can't be Richard Branson, Angelina Jolie or Michael Clarke - people I'm almost certain don't write shitty things about strangers online.

However, I also understand the first step to achieving any kind of personal acceptance and success is to acknowledge you're not Branson, Jolie or Clarke and be cool with it.

Suffice it to say, there are plenty of other ways to be happy in the world than being rich, famous or successful, but I'm pretty certain there's almost no way to be happy if you regularly get off on angering or hurting others.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.