I’d like to see an end to all unprovoked online attacks on any of us, but this is an informal continuation of thought from this post, about certain female celebrities and the varying degrees of public scorn they’ve recently received. Having said that, I’d like to take a step back and urge you to question why you or anyone would take to the internet to insult a celebrity to begin with.
There are true internet trolls who crave a sort of sick attention, but there are also a number of otherwise psychologically sound people who still see fit to use their social media pages to call certain celebrities names and tear down every superficial element of their appearance that they can. I’m not talking about opinions on an entertainer’s output, or criticism of a publicly stated stance on social justice or public issues. I’m talking about the day-in, day-out barrage of insults that so many people hand out on the internet like candy on Halloween.
The internet has brought us closer together, but the downside of everyone having a voice is that everyone has a voice. Please understand the dichotomy of you tweeting a celebrity or leaving an Instagram comment saying some heinous shit under the disclaimer of “Oh, they’ll never see it” or “They’re famous why would they be bothered replying to me anyway so I can say what I want” or whatever other justification one makes in their mind, while using a potentially direct method of communication. “Oh, they’re in the public eye, this is part of the deal.” “They wanted to be famous, this is what they asked for.” Eff that noise.
This crap adds up. Do you think celebrities exist in a world without the internet? There are certainly different levels of isolation and removal from the day to day chores of peasantry such as physically posting one’s own pics to Instagram (after applying the appropriate filters of course), but anyone who thinks their internet vitriol is magically tidied up somehow for celebs by their Oompa Loompas of the world wide web is sorely mistaken. There are managers and family members and assistants who may filter, but humans who have acquired fame don’t suddenly log off forever.
Have you ever been a Twitter trending topic? Have you ever had a hashtag campaign against you? I have, and I’m just an actress/writer who’s done some stuff but is not at all “famous.” Once, I sat with an extremely famous friend as she took a quick glance at YouTube comments under a video of hers and was reduced to tears. She qualifies as a rich, famous, STAR. She doesn’t obsess over the amateur commentariat; the video was up on someone’s screen in a private home. But when she had her first number one song, Billboard didn’t come through and surgically remove her emotions and her sensitivity.
For some people, it’s difficult to have empathy for people who seem to have “more” than us. I’m asking you to try.
We are all human. I implore you to just imagine what it feels like to read some of the things that you’re typing before you hit “post” or “enter.” And guess what? In varying degrees, we’re all in the public eye now. You could be Mr. Joe Schmoe with a few Twitter followers but if you tweet something some producer finds clever with the right hashtag at the right time you could wake up to find your words on a national morning news show. Get enough retweets or say something controversial enough on Facebook and you become the news. I grant you that such fleeting major media shoutouts are not the same as living life as a “public figure,” but media is changing the way it works every day. The spectrum is narrowing, so watch your mouth with the “public figure” defense because if you attack someone in a public forum and then cry foul, you could hear the same thing in response.
If you have a legitimate critique, bring it. And as anyone who’s seen me clap back knows, if someone comes at you first, I believe one has the right to defend themselves if they so choose. But I suggest that you challenge yourself to respond or make your point without calling someone ugly or telling them to go die in a fire.
Do you really think that your insult will be the cleverest and the most special and catapult you into the spotlight? That you’ll drop the quippiest quip and your personal darkness will get a little brighter? It won’t. Do better with your bandwith.
I would never be so tedious as to drop the platitude that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Sometimes not-so-nice things need to be said. There will always be someone ready to read someone else to ashes, and occasionally it’ll be me doing the reading. However, I’m asking you to not come at people unprovoked and to not come for anyone’s appearance or take cheap personal shots.
If you don’t actually know someone and your feelings are not based on a personal human connection, familial relation, friendship, passing acquaintanceship, or anything of the like, and they haven’t done something to offend you, why is their name even in your mouth? Do you feel special because you said a celebrity’s name or typed it on social media? What’s that like?
How about you try and put some more good into the world. If a singer, actor, pop star, or whatever, has your fandom, be a fan. Celebrate their work and what it means to you. But stay out of their hearts and wallets and personal lives, and if you do feel the urge to say something about someone’s looks, make like one of our most criticized and legendary entertainers of all time and start with the (wo)man in the mirror. Make that change.