When Anant Ambani got engaged recently, all of Indian social media, or at least most of them, rejoiced – not because they were happy for the couple, but because they knew they could count on the trolls to come out with tons and tons of memes and “funny” posts for weeks to come based on this single event. And of course, the trolls didn’t disappoint. How could they? I mean, how could they possibly pass up this amazingly unbelievable combo of troll-worthy material? Overweight person – check, partner who isn’t overweight – check, a weight loss journey that didn’t work out – check, kid of ultra-rich parents – check – certainly not an opportunity that trolls could afford to miss! How often do you get to come out with so many different kinds of jokes based on one person and one day of his life, right?! Bloody well done, trolls! And extremely well-received, every single one of you who reacted with a “Haha” and a “funny” comment of your own to add to the fun! You all receive a huge round of applause for showing the world just how pathetic our species can be!

With these forever-to-be-framed memes and posts, our people have cemented two strong beliefs that still run deep in our society.

1) A person with body issues, especially one who is overweight, is not worthy of being loved, and certainly not fit to be married.

I don’t endorse obesity or try to play down the ill-effects of obesity on one’s health. Nor do I brand any general talk around the dangers of obesity as body-shaming or as something against the essence of embracing oneself and one’s body. While it is important to embrace our body, there is nothing wrong in working towards making ourselves fit if our body poses a danger to health. However, it is not for others to comment on or give unsolicited advice on someone’s body, for the simple reason that it’s not your body; it’s theirs. If at all there is a medical concern, there would be doctors or people very close to them who can help them out, IF they need or seek help.

It’s not like the posts on social media were extra-positive when Anant Ambani lost his weight prior to the pandemic days. Except for the small section of sensible people who don’t spew negativity online, the rest went about their regular ways – making memes and bitching about his dad’s money that “bought him” his weight loss, and placing bets on how many months it would be before he became “the same old fatty”. And when he did gain back his weight and stopped making public appearances for a while, there was a sense of victory among the haters, the smirk and open laughter at being proven right.

By asking “Why else would this girl, who looks “normal and beautiful”, marry this guy, if not for his money?” our people were openly stating that if someone is overweight, they should stay single for the rest of their lives. Love, marriage – these are all for “normal people”. And you don’t have to be obese to fit into this box of people who should stay single forever. Anyone who is slightly overweight, dark-complexioned, doesn’t have “satisfactory looks” that align to conservative standards of beauty and good looks – you are all welcome to lock yourselves up in the box of single souls, spending your life despising yourselves for how you look and wishing you were dead. Yeah, that’s what our “culturally superior” society wants you to do. Isn’t that just amazing?

2) A person who is marrying someone rich is, for sure, marrying him/her for money – no question!

By coming out with and reacting happily to so many extra-offensive posts about how Anant’s fiancée, Radhika Merchant, who comes from an extremely wealthy family, is a gold digger, marrying Anant for the Ambani riches, the message from the social media crowd was simple – that there is absolutely no other reason someone would marry a rich guy, let alone an overweight guy. Love, a strong relationship with its foundation in childhood friendship –nah! It has to be money! Every time I see these kinds of posts, I wonder if it ever takes a toll on these two and if these posts would someday fan the flames of insecurity and eventually break them up. I sincerely hope not.

But this gold digger attribution doesn’t apply to Radhika Merchant alone. It applies to anyone who decides to be in a relationship with someone rich, no matter how famous or wealthy they are in their own terms. Right before Radhika, social media’s favourite new gold digger was none other than Sushmita Sen. Just imagine calling Sushmita Sen a gold digger for supposedly dating Lalit Modi – something he kept proclaiming to the world proudly (as if he had won the lottery), and something she kept mum about despite his online antics (as if she had made the biggest mistake of her life). Suddenly all the news sites started reinventing and rephrasing their headlines regarding her, by adding “millionaire Lalit Modi’s rumoured girlfriend”. Ancient news from 20 years ago suddenly became headlines again – “Meet the adopted daughters of millionaire Lalit Modi’s rumoured girlfriend, Sushmita Sen”. Yeah right! If you hadn’t added that bit, we would have been like “Sushmita who??” :-/ And people online had a field day, placing bets on how much she would “squeeze out of him” before leaving him for someone new.

Knowing how to mind one’s own business and not peep into others’ lives is definitely not a forte of our people (any people for that matter). What makes this peeping even more intolerable is the absolute sense of entitlement and surety with which they pass comments, cruel ones at that most often. And the best way to do that apparently is to coat those comments with a generous dose of what they call humour. That way, when someone calls them out for being callous and nosy, they can always say “Come on! Stop being a spoilsport and have a sense of humour!” Yeah, that definitely makes it all inoffensive and less likely to make vulnerable people want to kill themselves! Continue, for the sake of spreading joy to fellow halfwits! And do drop a tear online to show off your grief when someday, someone succumbs to this bullying completely and ends it. Or would that be another amazing opportunity to come out with even more wicked jokes?

Also published on Medium.