Opinion: Why It’s In Our Best Interest To Care About Demi Lovato
If you’ve ever wanted a little taste of what being a celebrity is like, social media may be your testing ground. Can you truly deal?
It’s time to stop seeing headlines about celebrities succumbing to addiction, mental health, or pressure and shrugging it off like, “Eh, they had it coming anyway.” Why? Because for the first time in this lifetime, you’re a little more vulnerable to the same fate. Sure, your platform may not be as big as the reach of the Hollywood silver screen machine, or primetime television, or concert halls across the globe, but with that @ handle comes a glimpse of what life is like on the other side of your gallery seat. So take that gossipy observer hat off, and let’s talk a little bit about how you might want to think twice about eye-rolling your way past celebrity woes.
Granted, a lot of it can be overly dramatic. Hyped up by media. Constructed by a PR person looking for a little traction for their client. But more often than not, the age-old falling star syndrome is a genuine destiny for many famous people, and it’s been a guilty pleasure for even the most celebrity-aloof of us, seeded in a strange desire to see successful people take a tumble.
Perhaps it makes us feel better, knowing that nobody is perfect. Perhaps it affirms a narrative we’ve been nurturing that riches and fame come at a vicious price, and that’s the real reason why we’re not rich or famous. But the truth is that celebrities live in a strange world with warped expectations, and being on a public platform is a double-edged sword.
Social media can be a highlight reel, a journal, a (curated) backstage pass, or a communication line. It can be a decoy, a projection, an aspiration, or pure expression. It can be a business tool, an archive, a vision board, a community. Regardless of what you use it for, it subscribes to the same power and vulnerabilities of being “out there” that celebrities have learned to contend with for decades. Some good, some downright frightening.
So, in the words of Cardi B, “It’s not a threat, it’s a warning”: this isn’t going to be a feel-good list, so good-vibes hunters, read at your own discretion, but remember that ignorance is not necessarily bliss.
The dark side of going public
When you put yourself out there on social media, much like it is in the world of celebrities, there will be people (out there) unwittingly participating in crippling your self-esteem. You may encounter a kind of duality; living a life and upholding an image on social media, sometimes quite the opposite of what most of your days look like offline. Looking for likes? Audience affirmation is addicting, and soon, feeling the high of validation will require more. And more. And more. And what happens when it doesn’t come? What happens when you look at your own public persona, and the little hearts, and the comments, and the image you’re projecting, all feels rather empty inside?
Public, often faceless, support can only do so much when you’re dealing with internal lack. Public, often faceless, criticism can do so much to cause internal lack.
But what comes first, the issues or the fame? Does being in the public eye exacerbate existing mental health vulnerabilities, or does it create them?
Demi Lovato struggled rather publicly with addiction and depression, and chose to use her fame and platform to create awareness and dialogue about the realities of mental health and pressure. A relapse after a successful sobriety run recently placed her in hospital, triggering waves of shock and sadness throughout circles near and far. Not everyone is as candid as Demi, or as versed in the intricacies of using fame and voice to create a community and a sense of support.
So many people, especially the youth, are contending with a monster of a machine, ill-equipped to handle the potential pitfalls of having a public persona—there’s a reason child stars are most susceptible to addiction. See, social media can amplify your abundance, but also your voids. And when you begin to use social media to fill those voids, or you’re still on your self-development journey, you’re embarking on a very slippery slope. Without preparation, ample guidance, or a healthy support system, your little social media platform could potentially have similar effects on you that fame has on recognizable stars from Michael Jackson to Britney Spears.
Jim Carrey said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
I think everybody should learn from people like Jim Carrey, who have made it out of the figurative Truman Show alive, and save themselves the trouble.
I worry about you guys, and having been on both sides of this conversation, hope that you take stock of your strength, your mental health, and your habits, so that you can keep on living your best life, whether or not anyone else is looking.
Photo from @ddlovato