Celebrities have become more accessible than ever to fans and as a result, fan obsession has bled into online communication in a very public realm. What makes people think they have the right to abuse, demean or humiliate another person, let alone a public figure, on social media could probably earn theses amount of research yet it’s definitely become a worrying part of the fame cycle.
In 2015, Solange Knowles promptly clapped back at an Instagram user for calling her then-11 year old son ugly. When Robert Pattinson‘s relationship with FKA twigs became public, the latter became the subject of racial abuse from Twilight fans.
We all know what happened to designer Rachel Roy (and by mistake, celebrity chef Rachel Ray) when the BeyHive heard “Sorry” and took to socials – along with a flood of bee emojis on her channels, she and her teenage daughters were called whores (as well as other names).
Only months ago, when Justin Bieber appeared to be in a relationship with Lionel Richie‘s 18 year old daughter Sofia, comments from hurt fans even suggesting Richie should kill herself prompted the singer to delete his Instagram account entirely.
When Nicki Minaj met one of her idols, Lauryn Hill, and posted a video of the encounter on her Instagram, she was called fake and overdramatic for emotionally bowing down to the latter. The comment thread became less about the original post itself and more about the fans and trolls going head to head.
So where does this bizarre sense of infatuation and unfiltered horrible behaviour come from? Who is to blame?
You wouldn’t be able to quickly look up hashtags online to find out where they would be staying, nor would you have access to their private lives in the way we do now. A technological advancement that has closed the gap between fan/idol for sure, but it seems like the opportunity to be flies on the wall and observe candid moments via social media has definitely been taken for granted.
We remember what happened to Britney Spears in 2007. We saw how people treated Amy Winehouse in the public eye as she battled drug and alcohol addiction. Imagine if Instagram or Twitter were around back then?
In an age where everybody with a functioning camera phone can be a paparazzo, the idea of celebrity/music journalism has become less about quality and more about clickbait tabloid fodder and with fans having the idea that their idols in some way belong to them, we forget that these people are humans too. Selfies seem to be more important than actual conversations. Meeting your favourite band or actor is nothing if you don’t have proof of it actually happening first and foremost.
Instagram recently introduced the option to disable comments, notably after Taylor Swift became bombarded after being embroiled in the whole Kim Kardashian/Kanye West “Famous” drama. When Bieber deleted his Instagram after warning his fanbase against abusing Richie, his fans took it personally as if they were being unnecessarily punished.
If we’re willing to operate at a level where this type of behaviour is not only becoming the norm, but is accepted, then we not only deserve to be called out, but shut out too.