It’s a strange feeling, waking up in the morning to discover you’ve become an internet hate figure. Today, My Chemical Romance fans took to Twitter to voice their outrage at my cover feature in the current issue of NME (it's print-only, not online, sorry).
Members of the self-anointed “MCRmy” called me a “diddle-headed twat”, threatened to shoot me and “eat my soul”. Someone set up a Twitter account, @ihatelukelewis. Distressingly, unforgivably, one of them said I had a big forehead. “Be prepared,” wrote one would-be emo assassin. “Because we WILL attack.” Another threatened to zap me with his raygun.
Naturally, I was quaking with fear at the prospect at this imaginary rampage - though part of me enjoyed being the target of such frothing hatred. At one point I visited Twitterfall and watched the insults cascade in real time. It was quite hypnotic.
The cause of all this venom? I’d been mildly catty about the guitarist Ray Toro, said he had “doughy love-handles”, a comment that – according to some Twitter vigilantes - is likely to encourage anorexia.
My Chemical Romance: Ray Toro far right
Why did I mention his weight? I don’t know, why mention a musician’s hair, or clothes, or the watch on his wrist? When writing a feature you seek out any human detail that will stop the whole thing reading like a press release. And I was concerned about that, because the piece had otherwise been eye-bulging in its praise for the band.
Yes, praise. I called their new record ‘Danger Days…’ “thrilling”, “immersive”, the “most full-throttle album released this year”. I spent several hundred words examining the album’s appeal, teasing out its themes. Reading it back I was worried I’d been too enthusiastic, come across as a fanboy rather than a journalist.
But the haterz evidently didn’t read that bit. They were so enraged by the “doughy” jibe, the rest of the feature – the bits where I raved about the band - just evaporated in their minds. Either that, or they just hadn’t read it.
That’s the thing about internet hate campaigns – after something’s been retweeted a few times, it becomes unbuckled from reality and the whole thing spirals off into an alternate, hate-filled dimension where everyone’s a monstrous bellend.
This is a problem, because right now we could do with a bit of moderation. In a world where a man can be prosecuted for telling a joke on Twitter, perhaps it’s time the internet as a whole took a deep breath, counted to ten, and asked themselves: is it really worth getting worked up about?