Magazine and newspaper headlines have been bemoaning celebrity deaths of 2016. Whether the rate of death for celebrities was actually higher than usual is still up for debate.
Truth is, I do not know if the numbers are higher but until we have actual figures I will speculate. It is my thought that the seemingly high rate stem from the personas of those who passed versus the actual rate.
Nonetheless, it struck me that a high number of persons are expressing deep grief and sadness. There seems to be cohort in our communities who are in actual mourning.
I loved George Michael just like the next person of my generation.
And I can run through a rendition of Careless Whisper which may make you cry but I do not feel any deep pain at his death.
The mourning which has been ongoing for much of 2016 has completely not entered my soul. At most, I feel the loss from the place in my mind where I mourn death for persons outside my circle of family and friends.
For celebrities there may also be a little extra feeling but strictly from the perspective of the loss to the art form. Whitney Houston is the closest I have come to actually feeling the loss of a celebrity.
But the only celebrity who I have ever mourned is Whitney Houston. She had a special place in my mind and soul and the story of her life left me with great empathy and sadness.
I understand the need to mourn ones favourite celebrity. What baffles me though is how that trumps the deaths from all the crisis in the world. Also, how can the death of every star have such a wide impact on the same set of people?
Could it be that widespread celebrity mourning is a reflection of the depth of empathy possessed by some people? That thought led me to carry out a mini study among a few of my social media connections.
I randomly selected seven of my friends/followers on Facebook and Twitter. Those chosen seemed most affected by the celebrity deaths of 2016. They are based in four countries and span the age range twenty-six to forty-nine years.
Each are all degree holders and have families. I reread their posts about the deaths of celebrities in 2016. Following that I perused their social media pages in a more in-depth manner.
I wanted to find evidence that they are more emphatic than my other social media connections. There were no such indications. At this point in the investigation I wasn’t sure what to think. Are these people just celebrity junkies?
As human beings do we feel more for celebrities because of the glamour and glitter? Does any of this reflect the need for a greater depth to our existence? For these questions I do not have an answer but I have an additional question:
Why does it seem easier to feel for those in the limelight than it is to feel for the average Joe?
Along with the mourning about celebrity deaths in 2016 I also note the high number of outcries about the year itself. There are many posts within my social media feeds referring to how much sadness the year brought on a global scale.
Many wanted to see the back of that wretched leap year to start afresh in 2017. Not to be the Scrooge of New Year but may I just remind us that the year was awful because of us.
As human beings we are losing our ability to care, to empathize and to love without expectation. 2017 will be the same as 2016 unless we see a shift in the way we act, react and plan for our future.
If we keep crying and bemoaning only the deaths of celebrities while ordinary folks die then a happy world will only exist in fairy tales.
The writer is a development consultant as well as owner and operator of Forrest Jackson Relocation Services.