Luke Perry, Alex Trebek, J-Lo, and the Jonas Bros…
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Celebrities… Why do we Care?
This past week we mourned the loss of Luke Perry following his death caused by a stroke a few days prior. Toward the end of the week, we had feels for Alex Trebek who announced a stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Jennifer Lopez (J-Lo) and Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) got engaged over the weekend. And, if you haven’t already heard, the Jonas brothers are back together and released a catchy single.
According to PsychologyToday (2015), our ancestors had to cooperate with in-group members for survival and success. At the same time, in-group members were also their competition when it came to sharing of resources. Knowing who to trust and how to manage relationships helped with success. Modern media presents celebrities to us often and we (not all, but most) know a lot about the affairs of in-group members. This makes these celebrities present to us as being socially important. The celebrities we see frequently become as familiar to us, if not more so, than our neighbors. PsychologyToday (2015) notes that when we know intimate details about someone’s life, that person becomes important to us. Celebrities become the “friends” we have in common with others.
Nostalgia can also play a role as we mourn the loss of a celebrity. Thinking about the celebrity brings back memories of songs, movies, and other emotional experiences that involved that individual (PsychologyToday, 2016). Celebrity deaths also build empathy and provide opportunities for education and understanding related to addiction, depression, and other health issues.
We get exposed to celebrities on a frequent basis, whether we want to or not. Spending time on social media provides this exposure. At the same time, if celebrity gossip is an interest of yours or a conversation “go-to” when with others, you know even more about celebrities. This is why we mourn losses, have complicated emotional reactions to celebrity news, get excited to gossip about the next big celebrity wedding, and bounce along to the latest single on the radio following excitement that a family has recovered and moved on from in-family drama and relationship difficulties.
Know that it is ok to feel sad following a loss or other upsetting news about a celebrity. It is ok to experience a perk of excitement or interest in positive news from celebrities. As long as it’s not taking away from our social interactions with others, it can be healthy to enjoy celebrity gossip. If you’re spending hours mourning and/or turning away social interactions to spend more time online, then it is likely that there are other contributing factors and it will be helpful to seek medical help.
PsychologyToday.com. (2015). Why Caring About Celebrities can be Good for You. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/out-the-ooze/201503/why-caring-about-celebrities-can-be-good-you
PsychologyToday.com (2016). 3 Reasons We Mourn Celebrity Deaths. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/bouncing-back/201601/3-reasons-we-mourn-celebrity-deaths