Yesterday, the critically lauded singer/songwriter David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69. By now, you’ve doubtlessly seen the news shared on social media more times than you can count. You might have even added a post of your own, complete with a YouTube music video or album cover. In the modern age of Facebook and Twitter, it seems everyone wants to be part of the grieving process. But how many of us are truly devastated fans? Or do we just want to be part of the cultural Zeitgeist?
Bowie picture from Shutterstock
I guess you could call this a pet peeve of mine. For the past 24 hours, roughly 80% of my Facebook feed has been filled with artwork, tributes and miniature eulogies for one Ziggy Stardust. On Twitter, the outpouring of grief is even worse. There’s just no way all of these people are genuinely broken by Bowie’s passing.
Some of them just wanted to be first with the news among their friends and followers. Others were fishing for Twitter hearts and Facebook likes. Some recognised that this death had cultural “cachet” and posted accordingly. The bottom line is that a lot of people are manufacturing sadness and loss for their own selfish reasons.
I don’t know why this irks me so much. In the grand scheme of things, posting a pretentious “RIP” about a celebrity you never cared about affects nobody…but it does highlight just how fake social media can make people. Personally, I think everyone should carefully assess how much a celebrity actually means to them before jumping on the grief bandwagon.
Ask yourself a few questions first: If it’s an actor, how many of their films have you seen and enjoyed? If it’s a singer, how many song lyrics do you have memorised? Did you ever see them in concert? When was the last time you mentioned the artist before their death, in any context?
If you come up short in these categories, you probably shouldn’t be changing your profile pic to the artist in question, as several of my friends have done. Deep down, you know you’re not being genuine and that’s a pretty bad quality to have.
I’m curious to see what other people think about this social media phenomenon — does it bug you too, or am I completely alone here? Discuss!