Twitter had a happy ending to 2022. Andrew Tate, a sexist social media influencer, tried to provoke environmentalist activist Greta Thunberg, and failed. In a tweet, he asked Thunberg for her email address, so he could send her the complete list of his 33 cars. She replied: “email me at email@example.com.”
yes, please do enlighten me. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org https://t.co/V8geeVvEvg— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) December 28, 2022
Tate attempted a witty comeback, but failed again. His response to Thunberg is not that unexpected. While a normal person would be embarrassed enough to close their Twitter account, change their name and move to New Zealand, those who make a living from the attention economy, aren’t worried about “winning the fight” – being talked about is enough for them.
Tate doesn’t care that former NBA player Rex Chapman tweeted: “The magic of Twitter is you can wake up not knowing who Andrew Tate is and go to sleep laughing at his tiny pecker.” He may not even care that he has been compared to Milhouse’s father on The Simpsons. What he really wanted to do was to attract as much attention as possible in order to reach people who had no idea of his existence. All thanks to the contagious power of indignation. It’s likely that 999 of every 1,000 people who landed on his Twitter page thought his kicboxing macho image was a joke. But he was counting on getting through to the one in 1,000, and selling them one of his courses. It’s the Twitter version of trawling.
The magic of twitter is you can wake up not knowing who Andrew Tate is and go to sleep laughing at his tiny pecker.— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) December 28, 2022
Nobody expected what happened next. Just hours after the Twitter spat, Romanian police entered Tate’s house on the outskirts of Bucharest, and arrested him for his alleged involvement in a human trafficking ring that forced women to record pornographic material for subsequent distribution. He and three other suspects are facing sentences of several years in prison.
If Twitter was already gloating about Tate being shut down, the level of schadenfreude went off the scale after his arrest. Especially since it was alleged that authorities were able to track down Tate thanks to his video – posted in response to Thunberg’s tweet – that showed pizza boxes from a chain in the country. Before police denied the rumors, Thunberg quipped: “This is what happens when you don’t recycle.” The tweet has already received 3.5 million likes, making it the seventh-most liked tweet in the history of Twitter.
Tate’s story is reminiscent of Milo Yiannopoulos, who many lucky people will have forgotten. During Trump’s rise to power, the blogger was one of the star columnists of the American extreme right. He gained notoriety thanks to articles with headlines such as “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?” His jokes received so many laughs that he began to think that everything he said was hilarious – until it occurred to him in one interview to defend pedophilia. And that’s when those who had supported him began to claim they didn’t know anything about him. Now Yiannopoulos is almost forgotten – almost because he was the director of Kanye West’s 2024 presidential campaign for a few days.
But let’s not forget that Tate, Yiannopoulos and similar characters live to provoke and attract attention. Before responding to them on Twitter and giving them the notoriety they don’t deserve, it’s a good idea to count to 10 or get off the platform for a while. Especially since hardly anyone is as skilled as Greta Thunberg when it comes to making supposedly grown men throw tantrums.
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