I have been in a state of shock since I heard the devastating news of the death of Caroline Flack. Did I know her personally? No. But I felt that I knew her.
And therein lies the root of the problem.
With the advent of media, and in particular, the recent phenomenon of social media, we have immediate access to the public and private lives of people in our “celebrity culture”.
In fact is there such a thing as a “private” life anymore?
I had a very minor brush with celebrityville in 2016 when I was a leader on Operation Transformation. Before the programme started we were given a talk on coping with being in the public eye. First bit of information was to make sure our social media accounts were private. Secondly, tell all our family and friends not to respond to any trolls, even if they were leaping to our defence. And thirdly, DON’T GOOGLE YOURSELF!
I immediately responded by changing my name on all my accounts into Irish. Years later I was doing research for my postgrad project on “Teachers on trial by Social Media”. I logged into one site that was to help people find their teacher on social media and the first piece of advice was
“Look up your teacher’s name in Irish.”
After Op Tran was over I did look up news articles about our transformation. There were hundreds of comments congratulating me on my hard work and that it had paid off. There was one that said
“Jesus, she looks ten years older. Old women can’t afford to lose weight off their face.”
I was devastated. I never looked myself up online again.
But guess what? THAT is the only comment that I remember and can quote, four years later.
So I can only imagine what it is like to be receiving a barrage of hateful, hurtful and downright disgusting comments every day. How would any of us survive that?
And before you make the argument
“Well why put yourself in the public eye? Then you’re fair game.”
NO! YOU’RE NOT.
Everyone has a right to keep their public persona and their private life separate.
Neither am I saying that anyone can just do what they want. But if someone has an affair, cheats on their partner etc. then it is up to their family and friends to deal with it. If a person breaks the law then it is up to a court, judge or jury to decided on blame and consequences. It is NOT up to the media or keyboard warriors to take on the role of judge, jury and executioner.
And this doesn’t just apply to celebrities.
Every teacher can vouch for this. At our parent-teacher meetings, you might have 29 parents who are positive and 1 who slates you. Guess which one keeps you awake that night.
I’m not saying you haven’t a right to critise something that you feel is unfair or unjust. But there is a big difference between a constructive criticism and an insult.
And that applies to all walks of life.
So two things that I hope to take from this devastating event.
1) Realise that everyone is fighting their own inner battle with life. Be kind.
2) Tell people you love and appreciate them NOW. And that they’re doing a great job and winning at life.
Love ye all!