Online rants and clickbait can just ruin your day
This morning, I fell down a rabbit hole.
Not literally, although that would be all sorts of awesome if it was an Alice-esque rabbit hole that led to a world of adventure and strange possibilities. Yes, that would be all right. No, this rabbit hole was not nearly as fun, not at all adventurous and it just kind of made me angry. Because even though I normally avoid reading about stuff I never wanted to know, sometimes you can’t help but look.
Despite your better judgment, even though you know it’s a clickbait trap, you click anyway, unleashing a Pandora’s box of virtual poison that will eat up the better part of your day. Yeah, that was my morning.
You might think the worst stories out there are the ones that foodshame (as in the shaming of food). Like, the ones that make you question eating that cupcake or putting down that cookie, not because they’re unhealthily full of delicious sugar, because obviously we can and do overlook that aspect.
But if someone told me my slice of cake was crawling with invisible bugs, I’d push it away, possibly rethinking cake forever. And what kind of life is that?
So this morning when I came across a Fox News headline that read, “Gross study reveals blowing out birthday candles increases cake bacteria by 1,400 per cent” I clicked on it. Even though I knew I shouldn’t, even though I know that studies come and go but cake is forever, even though I understood that reading the story might permanently change my opinion of the dear, sweet, fluffy pastry.
I’ll save you some time: all the info you need is in the headline. OK fine, the study was out of Clemson University, the amount of bacteria varies from person to person, blah blah blah. I suppose the results aren’t that shocking when you think about it, but can we safely chalk this one up to “information I never needed to know.” Right?
So as bad as that one is, the more terrible, more horrible, more verybad shaming is that of Rihanna. I’m sure we can all agree that the beautiful, talented, wealthy globe-trotting pop star, the one who is reputedly dating a billionaire, hangs out on yachts and such, needs little of our sympathy. But the current terrible, horrible, very-bad online conversation about Rihanna is about her weight, her size, and it speaks more about us than it does about her.
Some observers, probably the same ones who jump to the conclusion that Celebrity X is pregnant because she happened to be photographed from an unflattering angle after dinner, are commenting that Rihanna has gained weight. I hated even writing that sentence because the last thing I want is to give voice to online haters and trolls, but I think it’s important that we have this conversation.
Now for the record, I haven’t noticed that in any Rihanna photos I’ve seen of late, nor would I care, even if she had. Because Lord, heavens no! Gain weight? Can it be? Is there a greater sin for a female, especially a celebrity, especially a musician? Remember how cruel people were to Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera? As if any of these critiquing armchair quarterbacks have a fraction of the talent Lady Gaga has in one of her toe corns.
But that’s beside the point. Let’s have a look at Leonardo DiCaprio as an example. When was the last time you saw any online chatter about how much his appearance has changed from his Titanic days to now? And would it be a fair comparison anyway? No. People grow up, they get older, their faces and bodies change. It’s a fact of life. Yet women are expected to stay high school size and smoothness our entire lives.
This isn’t new, of course, and I don’t see it changing any time soon. But we women talk a big game about gender equality and gender pay — Women Unite! — and then turn around, jump into these comments sections and shred each other to pieces.
ALL of the blog posts and comments I read about Rihanna this morning were from women. Good job, ladies! How do we expect to be taken seriously, to be given the same opportunities and pay as our male counterparts if we’re preoccupied with tearing each other down? Over WEIGHT, for God’s sake.
Don’t kid yourself into believing the Rihanna situation isn’t representative of how we treat each other in general or how we’re perceived. The woman who defends her views that Rihanna has for sure gained weight then takes that attitude and point of view into work, into school, into the rest of the world.
Why is anyone’s weight important? Why do we care?
So that was my morning. And now I’m all riled up and am heading into work.
See how these things carry into real life?
Rihanna speaks to a reporter after a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris last week. The singer is the Global Ambassador for the Global Partnership for Education and the subject of nasty online comments.