With celebrities and social media, nothing is sacred

Posted by Gina Pappas on June 5, 2013 |

I’m an online celebrity gossip junkie. I admit it. I like reading the dirt on the rich and famous. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that I find so interesting about their lives, but I’m regularly sucked into reading my favorite seedy gossip blogs. More money, more problems…right?

In spite of my love for celeb gossip, it’s something that often goes too far. Today’s questionable coverage centers around the daughter of the King of Pop, who was hospitalized early this morning in what even her family is confirming is a suicide attempt. (The fact that the family is commenting on the circumstances at all is an entirely different blog post…perhaps one better written by a psychiatrist). But even I, lover of all things celeb, have to turn away from the coverage. It just goes too far.

There’s a fine line between reporting the facts and respecting someone’s privacy. There are good arguments to be made on both sides, and of course I’m a believer in the First Amendment and all of the freedoms it affords. But do I need TMZ to show me photos of Ms. Jackson’s wrists with the caption, “Possible cutting scars?” That’s when it becomes salacious, seedy and something I truly feel uncomfortable reading.

When someone’s health is at stake and online gossipmongers are merely speculating, it’s time to take a step back and remember that we’re dealing with people. Some people, like this young girl, have been thrust into the spotlight without any intention on her part. She was born into it. Those who bring on the attention themselves through nude photos, private videos and the glamorization of drug use will receive – and deserve – far less sympathy from me.

In times of personal crisis, poor health and tragedy, it’s not about what generates the most traffic to your website – even if the story is compelling enough to spawn a million click-throughs. It’s about treating others the way you would like to be treated if you were on the opposite side of the table.

Social media requires heart. For everyone.




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