On­line rants and click­bait can just ruin your day

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - SH­ERYL NADLER Sh­eryl@sh­eryl­nadler.com

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.

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