Twitter sometimes feels like a Superfund site for toxic psychic energy, where misogynists, racists, homophobes, and assorted bigots gleefully broadcast their hate and disturbingly graphic death threats are handed out over minor perceived sleights that in pre-Twitter days may have demanded, at the most extreme, a flipped bird. Over a weekend where the acts of a woman-hating mass murderer and a hashtag meant to convert the situation into a teachable moment provoked outrageously misogynistic responses on social media that confirmed just how near the mainstream some of his views were, that feeling was particularly acute.
But even at its worst, Twitter still has its redeeming moments. Like this:
What if everyone just replied to every awful dude tweet with Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun” and nothing else ever?
— John Gary (@johngary) May 26, 2014
This is a wonderful idea on a lot of levels. The most obvious one is the fact that “Ain’t It Fun” is an invigorating blast of spirited bubblegum that throws off enough positive energy to blast away the deposits of spiritual grime that accumulate on social networks and maybe make you forget for three minutes and 47 seconds that people are just so, so horrible. The interplay between the funky rhythm section and the melody’s frisky New Wave crackle makes it sound like a song that could have been released any time since 1980 or so, with a good chance that it would have charted at any point along the way. (It’s currently at number 12 after 12 weeks on the Hot 100.)
Even better, responding to awful dudes with “Ain’t It Fun” could not only negate their awful-dude energy, but it could actually make them less awful. The lyrics, by front woman Hayley Williams, who’s no stranger to the Internet’s more toxic aspects, are directed at the kind of poisonously selfish person who will do things like lash out with hate speech and death threats online whenever their myopic worldview is challenged in the least bit. The song has a pointed but ultimately constructive message: stop being a baby, get over yourself, and start acting like a civilized human being. “So what are you gonna do,” she asks again and again, “When the world don’t orbit around you?” It’s a simple but profound directive, and an inspiring cry of sanity in a world that can sometimes seem overrun with psychopaths.