Why I No Longer Read Celebrity Gossip

celebrity gossipAs much as it is possible, I try to avoid celebrity gossip in my daily life. Which, if you’ve ever tried to do, is getting increasingly difficult. I’ll be driving along, listening to the radio or a morning show and then, BOOM! Some stupid story about some minor celebrity is teased before I have a chance to change the station.

Or, I’ll be minding my own business, trying to read the news and BLAM, a headline about some celebrity interferes and I am tempted to click and find out just what did so and so do to piss off so and so. Or even worse! I read the headline and now, I will forever know that Kimye had a kid and named her North. This will now prevent some vital information that I will need during the pending zombie apocalypse from adequately anchoring in my brain. Thanks, Huffington Post, for your hard hitting news.

This is not to criticize you if you happen to enjoy celebrity gossip. I mean, it is interesting. That’s why there is a $3 billion dollar industry built around stalking people and their poor children. Hapa Papa reads The Superficial at least once a week (he says because it’s funny, but I think he just wants to see pictures of hot women) and says he can’t help but know about celebrities because his Yahoo! homepage shows him a TON of celebrity stories. Celebrity news is practically ubiquitous, so I totally understand if a person gives in and reads it.

Besides, this post isn’t to lambaste you if you happen to read celebrity gossip. It’s about why I stopped reading it.

A few years ago, I used to read Perez Hilton and The Superficial everyday. I would read The National Enquirer, look forward to going places with lobbies so I could read their free issues of People or Us Weekly or whatever. (I refused to actually pay money for these things.) In fact, I would often refresh the gossip sites 10-15 times a day (more than I did my Facebook!). It got so bad that I decided to give up celebrity gossip for Lent. But after Lent, I immediately went back to my old ways and read ALL the back issues (starting immediately with Ash Wednesday and didn’t stop until I was all caught up through Easter). Kinda ruined the whole point of Lent, no?

One day, though, I realized that I knew more about celebrity lives than my own friends who I actually knew. And really, celebrities are more like fictional people instead of real people because half of the stuff we read is likely fabricated anyway – and no way a true reflection of their actual lives. But it was a startling and depressing revelation. How could I possibly know more about people I didn’t know, didn’t have a chance of knowing, and probably wouldn’t care for if I did know them, than my own friends? Why was I spending so much of my time and energy learning about their likes, dislikes, activities, children’s names, etc. and not spending my time on pursuits that really mattered to me?

Once I realized this, I went cold turkey. I haven’t regretted a minute of it since.

Now, this doesn’t meant that I don’t occasionally give in and click on slideshows of celebrities without makeup or see pretty pictures of Oscar dresses, but for the most part, I avoid celebrity news. (That’s why when I do see these pictures, I don’t know over half of these “actresses.”) My life has been all the better for it.

Plus, this frees up much needed time to waste on truly important things such as stalking my “real” friends and refreshing Facebook a billion times a day. I know how to live, people. Don’t be jealous.

Fakebooking

In the past few months, I’ve seen several articles on The Huffington Post (which, let’s face it, has some quality control issues and is supremely left-leaning, but for the most part, I like their stuff) about the problem of “Fakebooking,” or presenting your life on Facebook in such a way as not to reflect reality and make other people feel bad.

The other day, a friend of mine posted an article on Facebook titled, We Need to Quit Telling Lies on Facebook, (she’s not the author of the piece) and I had enough. When I complained to Hapa Papa about the topic, he replied, “Stop. This is just too stupid. I don’t want to hear any more. People are idiots.”

Now, of course, please don’t think that I think you’re an idiot if you happen to fall prey to “Fakebooking” and its assorted ailments of envy, coveting, and feeling bad about yourself. (I may privately think you’re an idiot for other reasons, but not this reason.) In general, I think that’s symptomatic of being human and just seeing the surface of what other people want to project. I totally understand. Furthermore, I fall into this occasionally as well. Who hasn’t after seeing a particularly awesome picture of scrumptious food? Or happy, clean children? Or a beautiful beach view?

But seriously? Multiple articles on the subject? It’s a new thing now? How fucking stupid.

Who really looks at someone’s Facebook statuses and thinks that is an accurate depiction of a person’s life? I mean, the site is called Facebook. Like, saving face or putting on your face, or whatever. It’s not called Realitybook. And who wants to read Realitybook anyway? I have enough of my own reality, thank you very much. Please let me escape into the allegedly happy lives of my friends and acquaintances.

If you want to have actual, real, deep friendships, Facebook is not the place for it. It can be the place for it, (and many of my friends on FB are Real and honest and awesome and I love them the more for it) but COME ON. If that is what you want, GO MEET YOUR FRIEND IN REAL LIFE. You know, at a restaurant or bar or house or cafe or wherever people who don’t have to constantly tow around small children congregate and enjoy scintillating, interruption-free conversation. Facebook is NOT that venue so get the fuck over it.

Too harsh?

Embarrassing Confession

As much as I would like to think I am a progressive person and would just naturally know injustice when I see it, I really don’t think that is so. Since Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman case have been in the news recently, I’ll use that as an example.

Here’s my horrible confession: the MAIN reason I feel so strongly about the injustice against Trayvon Martin is because I have one really, really, really good black male friend. Like so good, I consider him to be family. Of course, it’s not the ONLY reason I am angry and sad about the verdict, but when I’m honest with myself, it is the primary reason.

Why? Because all I can think about is, “What if this happened to my friend, PH? What if this happened to his future sons (who I will consider my nephews)?” I’ll tell you what. I would be devastated. Hateful. Full of Hulk Smash. Because racism would have killed someone I consider family.

That is the crux of my confession: that I am only this angry when someone connected to ME is hurt. Yes, even in all my profession of enlightenment, blah blah blah, it boils down to selfishness – YOU FUCK WITH MINE, I WILL FUCK YOU UP.

But this post isn’t about unpacking why I (and really, most humans) tend to defend and pick up causes that affect us personally. This is, strangely enough, turning into a post about why it’s important for us to have close friends who are very different from us. I don’t mean friends in the sense that you have black co-workers or know a gay person or have an atheist neighbor. I mean DEEP friendships where you know the other person almost as well as yourself. Where you consider them a part of you and if they are absent, you miss them like an arm or a leg.

And perhaps, now that I think about it,  it isn’t even necessary to have super deep friendships. It is often enough to have friendships where at the very least, you are aware of their pain and the issues that affect them and their lives. What I mean is, regardless of the depth of friendship, you have to be able to see them as a person – an individual. And when you hear of the injustices enacted against them (and everyone, regardless of race, sex, orientation, religion, etc. experiences injustice – they just may vary in severity and frequency), you feel as if it happened to you.

Ironically, it is because of Facebook that I feel as if I identify more and more with folks who are different than I am. Not because Facebook is the place where people are Real, but because a few brave friends are honest on that forum – and I admire them and respect them all the more for it. I freely confess that prior to seeing some very personal posts on Facebook, I only read about certain issues on blogs. Though the injustices bothered me, it didn’t really affect me.

But now, because I have friends on Facebook who share about the prejudices they face living in a poly family, or being LDS and deeply religious, or choosing not to have children, or being gay, I CARE. I care now, because when I see these issues at play in society at large, I no longer think of the oppressed as a mass of faceless people. I see them as my friends. By name. Who I know and care about.

That is why it is important to have REAL friends who are completely different than you. Groups become individuals. And granted, these individual friends do not owe you anything and are not by default, a spokesperson of any sort to you. But it makes it easier to identify and humanize groups who are almost alien to you and your core beliefs.

Come to think of it, until recently, I have tried to make my Facebook page as controversy free and inoffensive as possible. Mostly because I hate arguing “facts” (I am terrible at remembering facts and details that back up my arguments) and having people think negatively of me. (It may come as a shock to some of you since I seem as if I say whatever is on my mind. But that’s because most of that stuff, I don’t care about. I have relatively little shame in many areas.) I don’t think I want that anymore.

Facebook friends, you’ve been warned.