When I first started dealing with my addiction, I was careful with who I told about it initially. As I told people, it was interesting to see and experience the immediate reactions and later responses. People were really happy for me and a number of them were inspired to make changes in their own lives. Some people became more intrigued in the addiction story, the dark side of me. They wanted to know more about it, and their actions conveyed hope that I wouldn’t break free too quickly from addiction. Why? They didn’t feel as bad about their own issues if I was still in the midst of my own addiction. It was a source of entertainment for them. Because I had been so open and vulnerable to people, to friends, I was hesitant at first to pull away from the friendship. I didn’t want to lose someone who I thought was a friend who had appeared to stick with me after I shared about my addiction. The individuals hadn’t responded negatively, and their motivations weren’t entirely clear at first. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I valued that previous connection and friendship over breaking free from addiction.
So, terrorism in Norway and Amy Winehouse…
I believe the first news I saw about the terrorist bombing in Norway was from a journalist, Richard Deitsch, that primarily deals with sports. Usually, news like that dominates my Twitter feed, but there wasn’t much about it. Later, the reports came in about the kids being shot, and Richard was on top of it. A few more people, journalists, were tweeting a few things. I followed a twitter user who was live tweeting, in English, the reports about the bombings and shootings from Norway. Not really anyone else was talking about it, on Twitter, though.
The more I read about the bombings and shootings in Norway, the more horrific it seemed. I tweeted out something about it because it seemed really bad. The response? Nothing. Generally speaking, people’s tweets were about everything else but Norway.*
*To be fair, I also tweeted about my Harry Potter blog post and Captain America.
And as the horror began to unfold about the evil that took place with this domestic terrorist murdering kids in cold blood, it was shocking. I had posted status updates on some of the Christ Community Church Facebook Pages, and no one responded. Usually, a tragedy happens and I try remind people to pray on the Facebook Page. People will usually “like” the status update and comment. No response from 1,600+ Facebook Fans with what happened in Norway.
Is that to blame anyone? I don’t know. Rather, it’s showing how such a massacre went under the radar. I think about monumental events that happen around the world, and here in America, and how a number of people go to Twitter and Facebook to share and comment about those events. The terrorism in Norway was monumental in reality, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell by people’s responses on social media.
The next day more news came out about the terror in Norway. It was bad, but it was quickly drowned out by the news of Amy Winehouse’s death. I had received a breaking news notification about it and got on Twitter. Immediately, there were people tweeting their condolences, shock, sadness, love and everything else for Amy. In one sense, it wasn’t surprising to see such an outpouring on Twitter. It seems that even when a D-List celebrity dies that a huge swath of people go to social media and let everyone know how they were the biggest fan of that celebrity. They’ll talk about how that celebrity impacted their life in a big way.
I read some of the updates from people and thought, “Really?!” Was it really shocking that Amy Winehouse died young? After what we’ve witnessed from her the past five years, and how she has indulged in drugs, alcohol and risky behavior? Her last concert she couldn’t even make it to the end, and was booed off the stage, because her performance was so bad. Was it sad that she died? No, I think what was sad is how her life wasted away these past few years and she wasn’t able to use her talents more. Even more sad is that she had been gone for awhile. Some people followed her more for her antics that got her on TMZ, and other gossip publications, than for her music.
I’m thinking all this, and reading over and over, on social media, how tragic and shocking it is that Amy died. At the same time, I’m thinking why there wasn’t this outpouring over the tragedy that struck in Norway the day before. You have scores of kids gunned down mercilessly, a government building bombed, and it doesn’t compare to a known addict who died of an alleged overdose. I’m upset.
I wasn’t the only one thinking this, as a handful of other people started to tweet similar sentiments in response to Amy’s death. I retweeted one of the first tweets I saw on the matter, and instantly a conversation started between myself and others* about the whole thing.
The news about Amy Winehouse was embraced by people, while the news from Norway was met with indifference by most.
In the age of social media, it’s nothing new. Heck, we see it with cable news in general. When Charlie Sheen was melting down earlier in the year it was the news story du jour for a week, until it became played out and pop culture and news moved on to the next thing to drive ratings. People were moved by the devastation in Japan, until something else took its place. People were moved by the devastation in Joplin, MO, until something else took its place.
Of course, if people were moved by the other disasters, why weren’t they moved by what transpired in Norway? Was it due to a lack of video from it?
I know better, but it still makes me upset that the lead news item for most over the weekend was Amy Winehouse’s death.
It also makes me upset to see Amy lose her battle with addiction. And, I can understand why her death was the lead news item.
Remember my opener to this post? Some people like watching people descend and/or battle with the dark side of life. For those of us that have had to fight our way out of addiction, it can be difficult identifying friends. You’re trying to get your thoughts in a positive place and retrain your brain to not always go to whatever coping mechanism you use to go to for help. In the midst of that, you’re looking at your friendships and trying to decipher which ones are healthy. I felt like it almost took me a year, after coming clean, to fully know who had my best interests in mind. And, to know, who wanted to be my “friend” because my addiction story was curious and interesting. Who wanted to be my “friend” solely to get info to gossip about to others. Who wanted to be my “friend” in hopes that I’d stay on the fringes of addiction, and idolatry, for their own benefit. I was trying to identify healthy and harmful friendships and either pour into them or let them end.
It’s hard trying to sort all that out. For Amy, I’m sure it was hard trying to sort all that out in a few weeks of rehab. It was hard to try and sort that all out while people document your every move and broadcast it to the world. Celebrities already have to deal with people pulling at them from all directions for their own selfish purposes. If they’re trying to kick a habit, they want people in their life they can trust. It’s hard to figure out. An almost impossible task for a celebrity to get clean and know who has their best interests at heart.
So, I can understand why the news of Amy’s death skyrocketed amongst people. It’s news, it’s tragic and then there’s the morbid fascination for some.
What am I trying to say? I don’t know.
Seventeen years ago, Kurt Cobain committed suicide. When the news broke, a friend and I went downtown to the Old Market. We went to one of my hangouts, Dirt Cheap Records, and talked with others about the news. My friend and I then wandered around awhile just talking about it and life. We were seniors, and it was a surreal moment.
I had been a fan of Nirvana for a few years, and while they weren’t my favorite band they were seminal in my life. It’s funny, before they broke onto the scene I was considered an outsider. Then, they hit big and in varying circles I was considered cool because I was an outsider. I wrestled with what that meant, and in trying to figure out how I was suppose to be in life now.
When Kurt died, I was affected. I didn’t know how entirely, but I was. It’s why I was meandering around the Old Market that Friday night in April of 1994.
People don’t meander around anymore trying to process an event like a celebrity death, they talk about it on social media. I shouldn’t be so hard about the outpouring for Amy. I just thought we’d do the same for the terrorist events in Norway.
I hope we all continue to pray for the victims’ families of those that suffered in the Norway terrorist attacks. I hope we continue to pray for those in Japan, and Joplin, that are enduing the aftermath of those areas’ devastations. I hope we can help/serve in some direct capacity. I hope, locally, that the constant news about the flood doesn’t make us indifferent to the people who are in desperate need.
I hope that we aren’t entertained by celebrities destructive behaviors. I hope that we would want the best for them, and would even pray they could kick their addictions. I hope that we don’t engage in schadenfreude at their struggles, because that could be us easily.*
*It’s a fine line in being grateful for justice, and someone reaping the consequences of their actions, and finding joy in the downfall. I haven’t always been good at this.
I hope Amy’s death can cause someone to get treatment for their own self-destructive addiction. I hope her death is known more for just a spike in sales of her music.
I hope we deal with reality and not turn a blind eye to evil because we just don’t want to deal with it.