Things Only Idiots Say After a Celebrity Dies

When a celebrity dies, it’s okay to grieve. Of course, this probably indicates that you had some kind of parasocial relationship with this person (since they probably didn’t know who you were), but they could mean something to you, even if those around you seem do not understand this. Generally, people want to be helpful and kind when someone they love is mourning the death of another person, but when it comes to celebrities, they might think your grief is too dramatic and therefore sound like a real asshole.

Let’s discuss how not to be the person when someone you love is mourning the death of a musician they never even saw in concert.

First, understand why people are upset

Bradley Bond, Associate Professor and Chair of Communication Studies at the University of San Diego, explores parasocial relationships, media representation, and the grief of celebrities and fictional characters. He told Lifehacker that parasocial relationships are perfectly healthy, so it makes sense that people mourn when a celebrity they feel attached to dies.

The loss of a celebrity’s presence in your life – whether it was voluntarily because they did something offensive, or unwittingly because they died – is known as a “parasocial break.” Research, he says, shows that in these cases, a person with a parasocial relationship with a public figure goes through stages of grief similar to what they would experience if they lost a real friend.

This is why when your loved one shows great grief over a beloved child star, you should not say the following:

“Why are you sad? You didn’t even know them.

It may seem like not knowing someone makes it impossible for you to be nervous when they die, but it actually has the opposite effect: when you don’t know someone, but you see them on the cover of magazines or in movies, they take on a peculiar look. mythical status.

“Celebrities represent elements of our collective consciousness,” said Brooke Sproul, clinical director and founder of My LA Therapy . “When icons fall, it can shatter our comfortable delusions of safety… It can bring to the surface fears of our own mortality and the mortality of others in our lives. This grief we feel is often a symbolic processing of death as a concept.

“Were they that famous? I don’t know who they were.”

You will often see this response in B-tier actors and actresses, comedians, and underground rap artists. It doesn’t matter if you knew who was who; their work was valuable to others.

“Not the obituary I wanted to read today.

This phrase often appears on Twitter after the death of a celebrity or politician. To be clear, there’s nothing more asshole than using the death of a public figure to make it clear that you wish someone else – maybe on the other side of the political aisle or in a different category of celebrity – would die instead.

The principle “if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all” still applies when you say something ambiguous, supposedly “good” about the deceased.

“Why wasn’t there this level of protest when [another famous person] died?”

“We tend to develop social-emotional bonds with people we find authentic, who we find socially attractive, and who are similar to us in some ways,” Bond said. “I think that explains pretty easily why we don’t have the same emotional response to every celebrity’s death across the board because we have different levels of social or emotional involvement.”

He noted that much of the research on parasocial relationships contrasts them with interpersonal relationships—because they are similar—and just as no one will have the same reaction when any two friends die, they cannot be expected to have the same reaction when someone else. two public figures die.

“What’s the difference? They were just [reality TV star/comedian/social media influencer/whatever].”

This one pops up when, say, a Vine star or a reality TV contestant dies. You can also see a version of this where a celebrity dies in a way that critics see as undignified or otherwise unworthy of respect. This is unnecessarily rude and dismissive. When you die, pray that no one will say, “Who cares? They were just an accountant with 732 Twitter followers. They shouldn’t have been driving in poor visibility.”

What to say instead

Bond offered to reassure the person that it is okay to feel what they are feeling, and encourage them to “think nostalgically” by recounting some of their favorite memories of the deceased person.

“The first step for that is confirmation, and maybe even more so in this case, because … [with] the death of a celebrity, we may feel like it’s not justified, but we’re still going through it,” Bond said.

Ask what you can do to help them feel better, but remember to check.

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