Wednesday 22 January 2020

Thought Picnic: Avoiding creepy headlines of misfortune

Creepy headlines
I cannot help but notice a kind of headline that appears after news stories culled from the web as related material, interesting topics, or as a result of dastardly algorithms.
The one that got me writing this blog along with others similar in nature was:
Where [Famous footballer] Lives At [Age] Will Make You Especially Sad.
Add to that others like:
What [Celebrity] looks like today will amaze you.
Remember [Celebrity Picture]? Take A Deep Breath Before You See What They Look Like Now.
What [Celebrity] is worth today shocked his family.
[Celebrity] who starred in [Film, Drama, SitCom], now works an everyday job.
Now, none of these headlines or the stories behind them interest me, but the topics cannot be ignored because someone is making money on the backs of the possible misfortunes of others. I say this because these links are almost always sponsored by third-party outfits unconnected to the original news site.
Purveyors of misfortune
For one reason or the other, this type of news sells, it almost reads like a kind of inverted snootiness where the reader is invited to revel in the misfortune of another in some sort of disconnected Schadenfreude, a glee that derives from comparing one's lack of luck to the failing luck of another to give you a good feeling in your bad place.
I cannot fully appreciate why this kind of unnecessarily vile gossip masquerading as news and offered as kind of moral tale of the ephemeral nature of wealth, health and fame is one that attracts so much attention, for there is no particularly good intention for publishing this stuff apart from its easy appeal to the innate busybody complex we all possess to varying degrees, yet, exercise some restraint to refusing to allow this tendency to define us.
Celebrate better things
Naturally, I am all for celebrating the rise and success of good people and much as some might fall on hard times, I take no pleasure in poking fun at them. In the cases where the situation or circumstance was completely out of their control, I would hope to commiserate and where I can help, I will.
We also have a tendency to stupidity and foolishness, we find ourselves doing incomprehensibly absurd, reprehensible, criminal, or idiotic stuff. In those things the greater battle is in getting to the point of accepting our prime responsibility for the situation and then moving on to forgiving ourselves, whilst opening the scope for recovery, recuperation and restoration.
There is enough suffering in the world for each episode of the life of an individual, my hope is that we all find more pleasure in celebrating the successes, the triumphs, the victories, the recoveries and the wonderful stories of those near and far, whilst resisting the urge to click of those sponsored links to misfortune, as it diminishes us as much as the subject has been diminished too.

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