Behind the façade of fame: the toxicity of knowing too much

It’s a good day and I’m walking along, listening to my music when I get a notification. I look down to see if it’s a text from my sister, but it’s just four different news outlets reporting the divorce of Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen. Now listen, I’m not a big football fan, and certainly not a Tom Brady fan, nor do I keep up with Bündchen and the modeling industry. But when I’m going about my own business just to be stopped by a notification revealing the most hurtful and intimate details of two strangers’ lives, I can’t help but be sad for them.

I get it. Celebrities in this era of social media and idolization of public figures know what they are getting themselves into by having their lives under a microscope. Just as things are publicized when life is good, things will probably be doubly as publicized when things are bad. That’s just part of the game. But when every news source, reporting to millions of people who couldn’t even say they know the couple, is covering the nitty-gritty details of divorce, it is truly harmful to both celebrities and our society in general.

Most people have experienced the effects of divorce, whether themselves or being the child of divorce, and it’s painful. Regardless of circumstances, divorce can be devastating to both the direct parties involved and their families. When I get a notification pertaining to something so real and private to two strangers, yet I somehow am privy to that information, it seems invasive into their life.

The evolution of technology has allowed us to be intimately connected with people we don’t know through social media and the self-performative culture that comes with it. But if that means general audiences feel entitled to know everything about the lives of their idols, including the inside details of divorces, the boundaries of these parasocial relationships must be re-evaluated.

Regardless of how many followers, viewers or fans a person or couple has, the personal business of people should be just that — personal. The moment that people feel entitled to the private information of a person that they don’t know is when it has gone too far. Especially because people only portray themselves in a put-together, physically attractive and flattering light, yet that is not the actual reality of life. When there is something unattractive or bad about a star’s life, such as divorce, it is highly publicized and exploited because the perfect image is then taken down, fulfilling a perverted pleasure to see the perfect people of Hollywood at their worst.

It seems that celebrity culture of this day and age is taken advantage of because while they are open to sharing some parts of their lives, our society takes it upon itself to know everything, hence the paparazzi and TMZ culture. So-called celebrities are not viewed as human beings like the rest of us, which can become harmful because certain people are valued higher than others in our society for arbitrary reasons (I’m thinking of the Kardashians). This idolization can develop a social hierarchy because of this gossip culture which places these celebrities higher than “normal” people, but it doesn’t account for the humanity of those people. The Jenner-Kardashians’ entire brand is the exposure of their lives to the world for entertainment, but their fame is a double-edged sword in that their lives are no longer their own.

As tempting as it is to click on a drama-filled headline, I think that we should all take into consideration how damaging this reporting can be for the people behind the façade of fame. Maybe then news can be actual news, not the latest gossip in Hollywood, and we will stop feeling obligated to know every detail of strangers’ personal lives.