There seems to exist a subsection of pages and people on social media whose work it is to ridicule and scrutinise the personal lives of any person who can be called a public figure under the loosest definitions of the term. That would’ve been fine, except, some things are really none of our business.
Scrolling through my feed, I hold my breath anytime a female public figure announces her marriage, a bold new career move, or even states her opinion on a particular matter. Why? Because like the larger framework of the patriarchal society it is a product of, our social media too, has been disproportionately unkind to women.
When our entertainment intake consists of both movies and the lives of those who make it, lines start to blur on what we can critique and pass a judgement on and what we cannot. As young and smart consumers of media, it is up to us to think every time we come across something posted by a troll page.
How do we spot problematic content?
If a post tries to shame or embarrass a person for the decisions they have taken in their personal life, it is problematic content. Pointing out the number of marriages or relationships a person has had, what clothes a person chooses to wear, or how one chooses to organise their family life are the best examples of things we should not pass a judgement on.
Is the post digging up dirt on something this person did years ago to make fun of it now? Do any of the photos being circulated seem like they were taken without the intention of them circulating on social media? Then we have to refrain from liking or sharing such posts and tell our friends that this isn’t funny.
Why? Remember, these aren’t just unfunny memes or jokes. These are products of our patriarchy. These posts are working to shame and pressurise women into confirmative behaviour all masquerading under the pretence of it being a funny Facebook post. Every time we support such a post, we are enabling people to control women and their actions.
So can we never talk about celebrities? Of course we can. As critical media consumers, we must know how to talk about a person respectfully and the fine line between critiquing someone’s work and bashing them for their choices.