Editor’s Note: This story includes mention of sexual violence.
Often while scrolling on social media, it’s easy to get sucked into a hole of celebrity drama. Whether it is a well-known celebrity or an upcoming star, it can be addicting to engulf oneself into the lives of others.
I am also guilty of obsessing over celebrities, and it can be a harmful habit. It creates a false tie to the celebrity and a warped perception of one’s relationship to said celebrity. While this connection to a celebrity could be comforting for some, this relationship can come crashing down once the celebrity ruins their idealized image.
English musician Alexander O’Connor, known as Rex Orange County, was recently charged with six counts of sexual assault. Sometime after seeing this news, I was scrolling on TikTok and was surprised to see people were mourning O’Connor. There are thousands of videos about him with comments like “he was my favorite person” or “I can’t believe this.” The fixation on him as a celebrity was so strong that people ignored the real victims of his alleged crimes and made it about themselves.
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Some of O’Connor’s fans seemed to have lost empathy and awareness when posting these videos. All I could think while scrolling was “what would one of the victims be feeling if they were reading these messages?” Fans seem to be perfectly comfortable with it.
People become consumed by celebrity drama and treat them in a way they would never treat an ordinary person. In this case, attaching too strongly to a celebrity became dangerous. O’Connor’s fans were so invested in his celebrity persona that they forgot he was a real person, fully capable of doing something wrong.
Additionally, it can alter one’s sense of self. It is part of the celebrity’s job to present a put-together, perfect version of themselves on the internet. We tell ourselves if I had that much money, that beauty, that fame, I too would be happy. In reality, the majority of idolized celebrities are not even happy themselves.
When getting looped into the feed of celebrity photos, it is important to remind yourself these are real people too. It is easy to adore others and be critical of yourself, but celebrities have imperfections, just like everyone else.
Celebrities may seem to be distant figures, but plenty of IU students are exposed to fame. IU athletes like Trey Galloway and Jalen Hood-Schifino have both amassed a following of over 20,000 on Instagram. While they mostly receive positivity on the internet, these two students are still vulnerable to criticism every day. One mistake in a game could leave them subject to negative comments from internet users who may have never touched a basketball.
Celebrity drama can be an escape from one’s own life for some. It is easier to worry about what a famous actor is doing rather than what is going on in your life. This can be good in moderation, but it is still necessary to face your own issues.
Although it can be fun and an entertaining outlet to dive into the drama of your favorite celebrity every now and then, make sure you remain aware of and present in the real world.
Lainee Kirk (she/her) is a freshman studying journalism.
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