The drama is over. As of February 1, Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa buried the hatchet, with Kanye taking to Twitter to confirm that the two have shared a “great convo” and it was “all positive.” (Bless us, everyone.) Which is fitting — as we all know, last week saw West unleash a 140-character (x 31) assault after he misunderstood a tweet by Khalifa, thinking the rapper was throwing shade at Kim K. Khalifa wasn’t (he was referencing a type of weed), and after Amber Rose clapped back to defend herself — since Kanye also dragged her into it — West apologized, deleted his rant, and sang the praises of peace, love, and positivity. Since then, he’s cool with Khalifa, Kim and Rose have Instagrammed photos of them hanging out together, and everything is wrapped up in a neat little package. What a time to be alive. I wish I could be someone who wasn’t bothered by any of this. I wish that during the great Kanye tantrum of 2016, I hadn’t been glued to my Twitter account, hadn’t neglected work and deadlines, and hadn’t thrown side-eye at anyone who dared act like they didn’t care. I wish I could be a person who, when a friend asked what the big deal was, could formulate an even, conscious thought instead of channeling my own brand of Kanye and waxing poetic about the day West didn’t want to be responsible for a water bottle. But I am not that person. I am a person who loves a good Twitter beef.
Let me be perfectly clear: I am the worst. I know this, because when Nicki Minaj responded to Taylor Swift’s tweets in the wake of last year’s MTV Music Video Award nominations, I was late to meet my friend for dinner. I just couldn’t break away from following the majesty of Minaj's call-out in real time. And when Zayn Malik and Calvin Harris got into a spat later that summer, I felt personally victimized by Malik's reference to Harris' hypothetical dentures, which I believed was a hugely middle school dig — especially when compared to Louis Tomlinson and Malik's brief feud alongside Naughty Boy, where Malik told Tomlinson to get a life (and the hearts of One Directioners broke accordingly). When Meek Mill accused Drake of using ghostwriters around the same time, we all became the living embodiment of the cringing-face emoji. When Britney responded to Iggy Azalea by referencing her own full schedule like the Twitter equivalent of a glorious hair toss, I felt like Julia Roberts watching Jena Malone confront her ex-boyfriend/bully in Stepmom.
But beefs are about more than the drama, which is why I think they’re so interesting. Fighting is easy. Anybody can do it. Most of us have been thrown into misunderstandings and disagreements and have lived the reality of how quickly a text message that says “k” can lead to meltdowns. But we are normals. We don’t have teams behind us to ensure we don’t misstep, we don’t have fame and glory (yet), and if we air our grievances about others in public (don’t do this), pop culture will not be altered. We will figure our shit out, block our enemies accordingly, and go bravely into the cold, dark night. Should we enter into a Twitter beef, Michael Scott has provided the perfect quote: Nobody cares. Still, when celebrities beef, we do care. And we care not because we want to see our beloved celebs up their dramatic ante, we care because this makes us relate to them. Ultimately, Twitter feuds are the fastest and simplest way to prove that stars really are just like us: flawed, irrational, not necessarily great with grammar, and human. Painfully, tragically human. And not even a perfectly orchestrated, casual paparazzi photo-op can convey the same message.
Humanness and relatability are especially key, since our current cultural climate can elevate a celebrity to a godlike status. Thanks to near-perfect social media presences, photoshopped Instagrams, and pre-approved statements, it can be hard for stars to falter or allude to anything other than perfection. We’ve watched our favorite artists create a mythology about who they are. We’ve aspired to be like the musicians, actors, and models we admire the most. Such is celebrity culture — it’s us, pressing our faces against the glass, hoping to see more than what they’re showing us.
Then, a sloppy Twitter feud smashes it. While caught up in the moment, we all channel the realest, most authentic parts of ourselves, so even the most polished celebrities slip to reveal who they really are. And that’s refreshing — emotions, freak outs, meltdowns, and enthusiasm are refreshing. The reason we keep telling ourselves that stars are like us is because we want them to be. We want to know that they get angry, say stupid things, and have to backtrack the way some of us had to after accidentally hitting “reply all.” We want to know that they’ve got backbones, comedic timing, or just don’t give a fuck. Basically, we want our celebrities to be interesting — and nothing is as interesting as the way a person acts when they’re in the middle of an argument. So while I’m not proud to follow and sanction celebrity Twitter beefs, I’ll still do it. Not just because they give me a break on afternoons while I should be working, but because they create a level playing field for all of us. I mean, sure, we may adore the shit out of So-And-So™, but you know what watching a human person act human does? It makes them seem human.