Late last night, comedian and writer Supriya Joshi (aka Supaarwoman) took to Instagram to speak candidly about the toll that online trolling and abuse has taken on her and her family. In the 15-minute video, which comes over a month after her last post on instagram, she speaks about how her pride at being featured in her first Netflix special this March—Ladies Up, also featuring Prashasti Singh, Kaneez Surka and Niveditha Prakasam—turned into anxiety and horror when meme pages started using a promotional clip from the show out of context in order to troll and attack her.
Putting on make-up as a way to distract herself as she talks, Joshi details how meme pages targeted her for days with memes about her weight, how “women aren’t funny”, and other examples of the misogynistic trolling that passes for wit in these online spaces. None of this is particularly new to Joshi, who is a veteran of the internet, but this time the trolling escalated to actual death threats. “It really made me wonder, for what reason,” she says. “It was pretty hurtful and all of this really weighed on me.”
She goes on to explain how this vicious trolling was happening at the same time that her father was being hospitalised, and how the combined stress and anxiety led her to, at one point, contemplate suicide. Joshi openly and honestly dissects her headspace at the time, and the dark thoughts that would pop up in her head.
“I’m very lucky to have a very good support system like my sister… and I have some very good friends who really came through for me,” she says. “[They] essentially told me ‘nothing in this life is worth taking your own.’ So I didn’t.”
At a time when online trolling and abuse has been weaponised for social and political point-scoring, Joshi’s honesty and vulnerability as she discusses their impact on her mental health is refreshing and important. As she mentions, “I think sometimes people forget that behind this screen is an actual human being… Imagine having to read hundreds of comments that tell you you suck, you’re not worth it, you should stop, and you should kill yourself. Constantly. Just imagine how that would feel.”
Watch the 15-minute video below, not just to appreciate Joshi’s eloquence and strength of will as she talks about the mental health issues she has struggled with because of trolling, but also for her on point make-up game.