Fat shaming. Slut shaming. Sexuality innuendos. When the Internet catches hold of a celebrity scandal, schoolyard jokes make Twitter timelines lunch hour in the cafeteria, and we all remember just how cruel that can be.
I studied journalism to be a journalist, not a troll. I refuse to participate.
Yesterday, the Internet had another field day when a photo surfaced of Kehlani apparently in bed with her ex-boyfriend, PARTYNEXTDOOR. The rising R&B singer had been previously linked to Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, and social media jumped to conclusions and fired up meme generators immediately.
Breaking up is tough, but just imagine when the entire Internet has opinions, places blame, and mocks your misery. In the clickbait era, both traditional and new media monitor the pulse of trending topics, and in almost autopilot, line up galleries, screenshot Instagram photos, and ask users to weigh in on every angle of celebrity life. Obituaries for some of the most troubled stars are already written, locked and loaded with just an update of date and place of death, to hit the Internet first when news breaks. It’s understood that some of this is just how journalism works, but at the core of its institution, journalists are taught to take the objective stance, and present the facts. Aside from satire, news outlets report, and not mock.
Kehlani has been part of the Twitter discussion for a while now. Just a week ago, she called out Game for his sexist comments. She’s only 20 years old. In the past, she’s revealed that she sometimes has to delete her social media accounts for the sake of her mental health, having negative feelings about her body, and her time in a group home. Artists especially use their music as a means of healing. Wounds are deeper than they appear, and can be reopened with a hashtag that causes undue damage.
The most problematic these days, for me personally, is Kanye West. His thoughts are labeled rants without a second glance, without any acknowledgment that he’s a human being behind the Twitter fingers, and that thoughts are valid. As an entertainer who contemplated suicide after the death of his mom, losing Kanye is something that would infuriate me. Not only because I’d lose one of the most talented artists of my generation, but I’d see those who mocked him in crisis flip the switch with Twitter tributes. We can’t live on autopilot. We can’t be part of the downfall.
We can’t drag someone one hour, and just flip the hashtag to #staystrong or at worst, #rip to be on the right side of the clickbait wave, the next. Life means more than that.
Journalism used to be a fly on the wall, and that’s the kind I hope we can get back to.
SOURCE: The Fader | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty