The real impact of social media on celebrities

Emma Costigan

In 1997, the media had a hand in the gruesome death of Princess Diana. Twenty-three years later, social media has become one of the most powerful mediums for communication. Despite its considerable advantages, it has become particularly dangerous, allowing the general public to fuel its ruinous ways.

Its drastic evolution has brought with it a surge of negativity, particularly towards those who are in the public eye.

Surely, we owe a duty of care to these people whose job it is to entertain us. Instead, our society scrutinises them for not being as “perfect” as we initially perceived them to be.

Thousands of people have launched their careers through social media. Sophie Hinchcliffe, a social media influencer, receives a huge number of hate comments daily, while she’s just doing what she loves to do – cleaning. Speaking on her Instagram story, Sophie said “I never quite know what I do so wrong…I don’t deserve to be completely pulled apart.” This highlights the bizarre nature of these comments. There is no purpose to them, except the intention to be nasty.

In an interview with BBC Breakfast, Billie Eilish explained that she has stopped reading comments on her Instagram posts because “it was ruining my life, once again.” The singer (18) has been in the public eye since 2015. Imagine being 13-years-old and being subject to such emotional abuse, it’s obvious this kind of thing takes its toll on you.

Eilish has previously commented on her choice to constantly wear baggy outfits during her Calvin Klein ad. She said, “Nobody can have an opinion [on my body] because they haven’t seen what’s underneath.” The mentality that you need to conceal yourself against the world because of the disgusting comments that circulate is ridiculous. People shouldn’t be made to feel like this, famous or not.

On February 15th, the true, destructive nature of these hate comments led to the death of Love Island presenter, Caroline Flack. In recent months, Flack had been accused of the domestic abuse of her boyfriend, Lewis Burton. Headline upon headline appeared online shaming her, and dehumanising her. Thousands flocked to her social media platforms, particularly Instagram to express their disgust. Thousands of vicious attacks through meaningless words.

TV personality, Stacey Solomon shared her condolences through a heartfelt Instagram post saying  “Remember that there is a human in every picture, behind every story, every post, every headline, and every tv screen, a real person, taking it all in, the good and the bad.”

Yes, people in the public eye choose this way of life. However, this is not an excuse to harass them. On February 20th, Stormzy deleted both his Twitter and Instagram accounts, more than likely in an attempt to shield himself from cruelty. In sad reality, even those that limit their social media presence won’t really have escaped its immense power.

Social media breeds hatred. It breeds pain. How can we allow actions like these to happen? How many times does this need to happen before these “trolls” realise that it has happened too many times.

Emma Costigan 

Image Credit: Flickr