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“You’d make a meme of our dead bodies”: why do we think it’s legit to be horrible to celebrities?

kk at balenciaga.jpg

If you want proof the internet is slowly dismantling our shared humanity, look no further than the comments on a Kim Kardashian article.

The news you’ve definitely heard by now about the 35-year-old being held at gunpoint in her Paris home was met with proud declarations of “publicity stunt,” “Lol”  and - of course - "who cares." Pre-8am on a Monday, it was a depressing rush of cynicism and stone-cold indifference to reports of a woman being tied up by gunmen in her home.

Aside from leaving Twitter, there's no choice but to waste eyeball time on incessant bilge spewed into our feeds and searches - and there was no ignoring the empathy deficit for Kardashian.

Chrissy Teigen, the straight-talking, funny-tweeting model-come-presenter stuck her head above the parapet to call out the reactions.

"You'd make a meme of our dead bodies to get retweets," she said. Yep, in Kardashian's case at least, that's probably about right.

This isn't about misspelled rants from anonymous egg accounts or the creatively named Facebook trolls who don't even fake a profile picture.

There's something about celebrities - particularly overt self-promoters like Kardashian - that hardens the most level-headed people.

From puritanical millennials bemoaning her expensive jewellery to the properly horrible suggestions that her attackers didn't go far enough, people are proud to be pitiless when it comes to flash showbiz types.

kim and kanye

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West arriving back in New York on Monday after the robbery in Paris

The marvels of 24/7 entertainment and digital social unity aside, it's a weird place to be. Ill-thought out opinions have always had a place down the pub - vociferous comments made in haste are taken at face value and the conversation moves on. On the internet they're planned, considered, committed to, thumbed in, submitted and stacked into a noxious feed of pointless negativity. 

Most adults know belittling people on the internet is not cool, but we get a free pass when it comes to the publicity-hungry ones like Kardashian and we happily take our hit. If it was Donald Trump who was tweeting unkind commentary about the mother-of-two's attack we'd probably make her our most cherished A-lister.

The five categories of social gloom-spreader we all fall into:

  • Cynical conspiracy theorists

Kim Kardashian staged this armed robbery for the publicity. Of course, those easy naked selfies haven't really been working for her up until now, have they?

There's always the ones who know what's really going on. They can see past the obvious story like no one else. News outlets? It's what they want you to believe. The journalists are being fooled or they're in on it. The police are probably in on it too. Nice payday for somebody, and so on.

  • Plain nasty

This is not your sexy-nasty or excellent-nasty it's the "they should have finished the job" nasty types. They're there, always. Probably occasionally nice people in real life, just happy to spread death wishes on the web.

  • Victim blamers

She should have had better security, she shouldn't have such expensive jewellery, she probably shouldn't have a bum to provoke amorous attackers.

  • First world problem-ers

Ah, that condescending catch-all. A brilliant observation appropriated as an aggressive conversation closer by those who want to appear superior and virtuous. "It's such a big problem having millions of pounds that will get repaid on insurance." Yes, the trauma of thinking you might be shot to death is totally eradicated by zeroes in the bank. "Why aren't you paying attention to more deserving news?" And where will that end? Should we go the whole hog and ban Bake Off too?

  • Not news-ers

Who cares? Kim who? This isn't news.

Deserving or not, Kim Kardashian is a celebrity, she is celebrated by millions of people. she has 84 million followers on Instagram alone. If any rich Fashion Week attendee had been tied up at gunpoint and had £9 million worth of jewellery stolen, it would be news in France at least - when it's someone with a high-profile and an undeniable influence on so many, how can it not be relevant?

  • Comic indifference

"Did she snapchat this?"

Cynical and snippy, but at least the stabs at satire occasionally offer more creative feedback.

Of course there were messages of sympathy for the reality star among the rest:

Whatever you think of Kardashian - even if you “nothing” her - surely it’s better to wade through messages of kindness and compassion than be bombarded with casual malevolence?​



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