If you have just clicked this to hear more about the Jay Z and Solange rift that recently exploded all over the Internet, then you have come to the right place but for reasons that may differ from your expectations (but keep reading). Before we begin, ask yourself, “Why did I click this and what drew me to it?” This is exactly the point RapRehab’s Sebastien Elkoubymakes with his recent excellent piece analyzing “gossip and celebrity worship,”what draws us to these subjects, and how the behavior has grafted our society as a whole.
Our days are filled with obligation–work, school, family, friends–and our rapid shift to a world filled with instant gratification is a product of our increasingly limited pockets of time for ourselves. When we come across stolen moments of pleasure, how do we fill them? Streaming videos, memes, apps, the latest in celebrity discourse and, of course, the hot new song of the minute.
As Elkouby states in his article, “[w]e crave distractions. Stories about people like Donald Sterling, Mimi Faust, Chris Brown, Cliven Bundy, and the Carters/Knowles give us a temporary escape from our own boring lives. Many of us spend 8 or more hours a day at a job we hate, working with people we can’t stand, making less than what we need, to start all over again the following day. And out of nowhere comes a story that instantaneously takes us away from endless spreadsheets, bossy supervisors, and grueling staff meetings. Our cell phones and computers are patiently waiting, a magical portal to an exciting world of superstars, fame, drama, and anything else to make us forget our tedious daily routine.”
We invest into this perpetually refreshing “feed.” We share, comment, re-tweet and open dialogue with others looking to escape. And then with a click, we are back in the Matrix of real life. Our phones and iPads shimmer with a blank stare. The fantasy world we visited sits still like a well-behaved hound on the other side of the darkness, ready to deliver the next story with the next slide of our fingers. But is there something bigger that we are missing? How long have we been living in this virtual world and how is it affecting us in reality?
Elkouby suggests that we channel our energies toward loftier objectives. “Rather than posting countless Facebook comments about Donald Sterling’s racist rants, can that same fire be used to advocate for racial justice…even if only within our own circles? Instead of tweeting how outraged we are about Mimi Faust’s sex tape, can we do a better job of monitoring the sexually degrading entertainment our kids are exposed to? Can we spend more time developing healthier relationships with our loved ones than we do trying to figure out why Jay Z and Solange don’t get along?”
If we are regularly using the limited amount of time we have everyday to engage with the latest celebrity gossip, it’s a safe bet that critical societal problems will go unresolved amidst all this seemingly useless discourse. Elkouby’s ultimate concern is that our “quality of life is rapidly decreasing” amidst the endless distractions. This premise is worthy of more than just a few clicks of consideration…but it does not allow for the totality of our needs as people.
It’s okay to click on celebrity news. It’s okay to eat junk food. It’s okay to escape the rigamarole of every day life. Sometimes. Like any good nutrition plan, the keys to good health (physical and mental) are balance and moderation. We all need moments where we indulge ourselves. By contrast, there also are times where we need to strive for greatness, in ourselves and others. Sometimes, the best way to move past life’s ennuis is to face them full on and change the life circumstance that is causing them in the first place. Build that business you’ve been considering. Lose that weight you’ve wanted to shed. Make that song that makes people’s lives better. Follow that dream…
Maybe next time you see another Jay Z and Solange-related post, you won’t click it. Or maybe you will. If you do, just remember to balance the scale when the opportunity arises.
Spotted at Ambrosia for heads